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Uncategorized Bay Area marches for Ayotzinapa, because it had to...

Bay Area marches for Ayotzinapa, because it had to

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Rain does little to dampen a protest march in support of missing Mexican students
Rain does little to dampen a protest march in support of missing Mexican students

 

By Caitlin Donohue

NOVEMBER 21, 2014 — If the people of Mexico needed proof that the rest of the world stood with them yesterday, they could look to Market Street in San Francisco. It was the international day of protest for the 43 Ayotzinapa Normal student activists who were disappeared in the Mexican state of Guerrero by rural law enforcement back in September – and also November 20, the anniversary of the start of the 1910 Mexican Revolution.

The San Francisco sky opened up over the hundreds of people marching through downtown,  a Mexico-worthy deluge of water, the likes of which the Bay Area rarely sees. The water hit marching protesters chanting, “Quien fue? La policia! Quien fue? El estado! (“Who was it? The police! Who was it? The state!”) But they barely seemed to flinch, reaching City Hall with enough numbers to take the grand building’s steps with protest signs and a puppet of President Enrique Nieto Peña, a likeness whose size paled only in comparison to the one that had been burned hours before in Mexico City’s central plaza.

After all, as one woman proclaimed at the open mic in Justin Herman Plaza that kicked the SF demonstration: “Can you imagine what would have happened in 1910 if a little rain had stopped them?”

Pictures of the disappeared adorn a protest banner
Pictures of the disappeared adorn a protest banner

In Mexico City the weather was more forgiving, allowing an estimated tens of thousands of citizens to meet at three points around the capital, forming marches that converged at the Zócalo, the historic center of the city. Once there, Ayotzinapa Normal students and family members of the disappeared 43 spoke. A gigantic effigy of Nieto was burned. The protests stayed peaceful until a small group of encapuchados, or masked demonstrators, began throwing Molotov cocktails at police officers. Elsewhere in the city, another conflict with the police was kicked off when protesters looked to block traffic to Benito Juarez International Airport. In the state of Sonora, protesters occupied Congress .

But as other voices explained at the SF rally – and the well-attended demonstration and march that happened earlier that day in Berkeley — the corruption and violence that has Mexican citizens rising up over Ayotzinapa are hardly problems restricted south of the border. Leaving aside the fact that many at yesterday’s march live in the Bay Area but are originally from Mexico, most speakers made the connection between Mexico’s drug violence and the United States’ arms financing and neocolonial interventionism in the Mexican economy. The United States cannot stand aside and watch Ayotzinapa happen, because it is our issue too.

“We believe an adequate immigration policy would be to tear down that goddamn wall,” cried out a speaker into a microphone in downtown’s Justin Herman Plaza. “Whether we’re gay, straight, feminist, student, worker – let’s remember that this is all the same battle,” asserted another. Later, when the demonstration turned into a march that led down Market Street to City Hall, the protesters paused to call attention to Senator Dianne Feinstein’s office. Protest organizers used bullhorns to shame Feinstein for her complicity in our government’s arms trafficking to Mexico.

Around 35 million people claiming Mexican descent live in our country (parts of which used to be within the Mexican borders, let’s not forget.) Our history of interventionism in the country is infamous. International trade policies like NAFTA destroyed many Mexicans’ ability to make a living without dependence on our international corporations. Our government has even admitted to selling guns to Mexican gangsters – like the ones who supposedly murdered the Ayotzinapa 43 — that were later used to slay citizens.

Mexican civic unrest, and malfunctions in democracy, should be traced in part to our country’s influence. The White House, tellingly, has remained totally mute on the matter of the disappeared student activists. Condemning the violence and collusion between government and drug traffickers may be too hypocritical for even Obama’s White House. US media is working hard to paint the current wave of protests in the most violent light possible – all the more reason to strengthen that border wall if the Mexicans are getting wild, right? (For a more accurate look at the majority of proceedings during the Mexico City demonstrations yesterday, look no further than Vice News’ raw footage of reporter Daniel Hernandez navigating the demonstration for 2.5 hours.)

We can only hope the people of the United States are too smart to fall for attempts to distance the struggle of the Mexican people from our own. We’re the ones consuming the drugs involved in our southerly neighbors’ bloodshed, and we’re the ones who elect US politicians that have a disproportionately large say in Mexico’s fate. Actions for Ayotzinapa have been tentatively planned for early December – keep in touch with local activist group Yo Soy 132 Bay Area to stay informed.

Tim Redmond
Tim Redmond has been a political and investigative reporter in San Francisco for more than 30 years. He spent much of that time as executive editor of the Bay Guardian. He is the founder of 48hills.

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  31. Thoughtful people read the articles without the need to post or even read the posts which are so often a waste of time in comparison.

  32. ” a Mexico-worthy deluge of water, the likes of which the Bay Area rarely sees. ”
    Actually, before the current drought, deluges of water during the Nov-Feb rainy season were extremely common!

  33. Well, Greg, I think we know your heart still lies in further-afield shores, and I feel sure that someone with your passion for revolution could achieve some more impact if you were in a smaller pond.

    But I’d characterize the level of interest in what happens in Mexico here as close to zero. The attitude in America is to build a wall and let them get on with it.

    Then again, maybe you could sell this as follows – if Mexico becomes a socialist paradise, maybe all the illegals will go home? Hey, it’s worth a shot.

  34. Well, when you’re making half the posts, you’re kinda skewing the results, no? Of course you didn’t turn this thread into a flame war… yet. I suppose you were waiting for me to post. You just have to scratch that itch.

    But let’s set all that aside and say you’re right. It’s still meaningless. Because if someone were to say that I could get either full progressive control of San Francisco, or a Bolivarean-style democratic revolution in Mexico -one or the other, but not both -well I love this city, but it would be no contest which I would choose.

    I don’t know what people care about -they probably care more about who wins some ball game. Regardless of what they care about, flipping Mexico would be a much bigger deal than flipping the Board of Supes.

  35. Interesting that there are just six posts on this topic, and yet 214 on the temporary appointment of an interim BofS president, and 47 on the utility of using flip-charts in meetings.

    That tells you what people here care about, and it’s not Mexico, evidently.

  36. I returned from Mexico late last night; where I was all week.
    On Thursday, the 20th, it was supposed to be a holiday celebrating the Revolution of 1910. It’s usually a joyous occasion with parades across the country. This year, the Mexican Government cancelled all festivities as they were afraid of demonstrations.
    Well, those happened yesterday, across the Republic. The TV channels all went to split-screens with [Mexican President] EPN, sweating bullets on the right, giving the tired old speech that justice would be served, and on the left side, scenes of the massive demonstrations in at least 10 cities.
    It’s my belief that good may come out of this tragedy. Mexican society is so pissed off at their government, on all levels, that I believe the political will now exists to to tackle official corruption head on.

  37. Middle class wages? Try poverty wages. Mexico’s wages are amongst the lowest in the world. Why do you think multinational companies built maquiladoras? Not to pay “middle class wages”. Even by Mexican standards those are not middle class wages. And you’ve forgotten to mention farmers who have been driven off their land as American corn floods Mexico.

  38. Tad, it’s not unusual for the far left and the far right to find common ground in opposing multi-national agreements and organizations. Both want autonomy from meddling overseers.

    In Europe, opposition to a nation being in the EU typically is from both the far-left and the far-right. While indepenance movements, such as we are currently seeing in Scotland and Catalonia, are similarly supported by the non-moderates of either hue.

  39. Massacres a Way of Life by Karen Melander-Magoon

    Ayotzinalpa
    Echoes of
    Tlateloloco
    Echoes of
    Ferguson and Gaza
    Police massacre students
    Yesterday perhaps more than forty-three
    Some graves are found
    The disappeared
    Disappeared students
    Are dead now
    Dead to their families and friends
    Dead forever
    Forty-six years ago
    October, 1968
    Tlatelolco
    Five hundred students slaughtered
    Why?
    Do we not breed enough violence>
    Can we not breed peace?
    Narco state
    Drug state
    Poverty partners
    Drugs and money
    Police and power
    Racism and guns
    Forty thousand Zapatistas
    Marched through Chiapas
    Two years before
    For those murdered
    In Tlateloloco
    By police
    Last week
    Thousands marched
    Through Ferguson, Missouri
    Yelling, “Don’t shoot”
    In honor of a young Michael Brown
    Always to be remembered
    Killed for no reason
    Killed by his protectors
    Killed by police
    Ferguson, Ayotzinalpa, Tlatelolco
    Gaza, like Kristallnacht in Berlin
    Innocence betrayed
    Sharpeville in South Africa
    Schools, streets, open plazas
    Africa to India, Brazil to Missouri
    To Ayzinalpa, Mexico
    Police break the bonds
    Of protection of the people
    Police become enemies
    Enemies of the people
    Militarized police
    An oxymoron
    Militarized police
    Blur the distinction
    Between civil states
    And police states
    Militarized police
    Blur the distinction
    Between violence
    And innocence
    Police are protectors
    Not perpetrators
    Protectors
    Of human rights
    Not protectors
    Of militarized
    Police

  40. “International trade policies like NAFTA destroyed many Mexicans’ ability to make a living…”

    Interesting that the far right (Tea Party) and the far left both despise NAFTA.

    Mexicans earning middle-class wages at Nissan and Ford plants, Mexicans employed at maquiladora plants and Mexican truck drivers are quite pleased with the economy freedoms that NAFTA brings.

    For a good history of political corruption in Mexico, see ‘La Capital’ by Jonathan Kandall. An oligarchy of landed gentry and government bureaucrats has run Mexican into the ground for centuries. NAFTA is a game-changer.

    “Tierra y liberad!

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