[News] Wave of Anarchist Bombings Strikes Mexico

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Tue Oct 6 13:41:10 EDT 2009



http://www.counterpunch.org/ross10062009.html

October 6, 2009


"Our Fires Illuminate the Night"


Wave of Anarchist Bombings Strikes Mexico

By JOHN ROSS

Mexico City

An unprecedented wave of anarchist bombings here 
and in provincial capitals has Mexican security 
forces on red alert. Beginning September 1st, 
bombs have gone off once or twice a week 
regularly as clockwork, taking out windows and 
ATMs at five banks, torching two auto showrooms 
and several U.S. fast-food franchises plus an 
upscale boutique in the chic Polanco district of 
this conflictive capital. In each case, the 
Anarchist "A" has been spray-painted on nearby 
walls along with slogans supporting animal 
liberation demands to stop prison construction, 
and calls for the demise of capitalism.

The serial bombings are the first to strike 
Mexico City since November 2006 when radicals 
took out a chunk of the nation's highest 
electoral tribunal, blew a foreign-owned bank, 
and scorched an auditorium in the 
scrupulously-guarded compound of the once and 
future ruling PRI party. The 2006 attacks came in 
the wake of a fraud-marred presidential election 
and federal police suppression of a popular 
uprising in the southern state of Oaxaca and were 
claimed by five armed groups, most prominently 
the Democratic Revolutionary Tendency, a 
split-off from the Marxist-Leninist Popular 
Revolutionary Army (EPR) which itself bombed a 
Sears outlet in Oaxaca City in 2006 and PEMEX 
pipelines in central Mexico in 2007.

Anarchist cells that claim to have perpetrated 
the recent explosions take pains to distance 
themselves from the Marxist bombers.

In vindicating a September 25th blast at a 
Banamex branch in the rural Milpa Alta delegation 
(borough) of Mexico City during which the rebels 
claim a half million pesos were immolated, "The 
Subversive Alliance For The Liberation Of The 
Earth, The Animals, & The Humans" (in that order) 
charged that the U.S.-owned bank promoted 
"torture, destruction, and slavery. "Our motives 
are to stop these bastards and let them know that we are not playing games."

Bank video cameras captured the images of three 
hooded and black-clad young bombers. On October 
1st, 22 year-old Ramses Villareal, a student 
activist, was arrested by federal police and 
charged with "terrorism" in connection with 
bombings at several of the banks. He was released 
the next day after violent protests by young anarchists in Mexico City.

The September 25th Banamex blast was not the 
first time the bank has been targeted by 
"terrorist" bombs. In August 2001, heavy duty 
fireworks broke out windows in a "cristalazo" at 
three southern Mexico City branches to protest 
the sale of Banamex, Mexico's oldest bank, to 
Citigroup, the New York-based banking group that 
has been so devastated by the financial melt-down 
that it recently put Banamex back up for sale.

The 2001 bombing was attributed to the 
little-known Armed Revolutionary Front of the 
People (FARP.) Three brothers, students at the 
UNAM, and the sons of EPR founder Francisco 
Cerezo (not his real name) were subsequently 
imprisoned on "terrorism" charges - the attacks 
took place just days before the terrorist 
assaults on New York and Washington purportedly 
carried out by Osama Bin Laden's Al-Qaeda group. 
The Cerezo brothers were imprisoned for eight 
years and have only recently been released from federal lockup.

The September bombings and associated property 
damage also singled out Mexico City and 
Guadalajara offices of the European bio-tech 
titan Novartis that, along with Monsanto, bears 
responsibility for spreading genetically modified 
seed throughout Mexico's corn-growing belt and 
contaminating native species of maiz. Auto 
showrooms in the two cities were also on the 
business end of Molotov cocktails September 18th 
and 26th - seven luxury automobiles including a 
Hummer were torched at Auto Nova in Guadalajara.

An Internet page documenting the Guadalajara 
bombing included communiqués from Jeffrey Luers 
AKA "Free", who is serving ten years in Oregon 
for burning up 21 SUVs on a Portland lot. "Free" 
is accused by the FBI of being an associate of 
the Earth Liberation Front, eco-"terrorists" that 
the U.S. Justice Department has elevated to the 
top of the Terrorist Hit Parade, alongside Bin 
Laden. The initials "ELF" were reportedly 
spray-painted on the burnt-out showroom walls.

Messages from the bombers were posted to the 
Total Liberation website 
(www.liberaciontotal.entodaspartes.net) that is 
dedicated to "the dissolution of civilization" 
and serves as an international bulletin board for 
notices of similar sabotage by anarchist cells 
around the world such as the U.S. "Burn Down The 
Jails!", Latin American autonomous cells of the 
Animal Liberation Front - an ELF offshoot, and 
the Greek anarchist movement that ravaged Athens this summer.

"Our fire illuminates the night!" waxed poetic 
one anonymous Mexican anarchist interviewed on 
the Total Liberation site. "We have lost all fear 
of spending the rest of our days in prison", 
perhaps a reference to the Cerezo brothers and 
Ramsis Villareal. Groups claiming bombings and 
other successful acts of sabotage take fanciful 
names infused with poetry, bravado, and black 
humor: "Luddites Against the Domestication of 
Wildlife", "Espana Signus Francescos" (thought to 
be a reference to San Francisco of Assisi, the 
patron saint of animals), and "Autonomous Cells 
of the Immediate Revolution - Praxides G. Guerrero."

The historically obscure Guerrero was the first 
anarchist to fall in the landmark 1910-1919 
Mexican revolution whose centennial will be 
marked in 2010. Praxides G. Guerrero was felled 
by a "bala ciega" (literally "blind bullet") 
during a guerrilla raid on Janus Chihuahua in May 
1910, six months before Francisco Madero 
officially called for the overthrow of dictator 
Porfirio Diaz in November of that year to launch the Mexican revolution.

Only 28 years old on the day of his death, 
Guerrero was a young partisan of anarchist 
superstars Ricardo and Enrique Flores Magon. 
"Praxides translated the theory of anarchism into 
practical action," writes anarchist historian 
Dave Poole. In a recent e-mail, John Mason Hart, 
author of the definitive study "Anarchism & The 
Mexican Working Class", concluded that if 
Guerrero had survived, the Mexican revolution 
would have looked more like the contemporary 
neo-Zapatista rebellion in Chiapas than the 
fratricidal bucket of blood it became.

As a writer, Praxides G. Guerrero's prose has all 
the impact of an anarchist bomb. In "Blow!", the 
revolutionary imagines himself as the wind: "I 
steal into palaces and factories, I blow through 
prisons and caress the infancy prostituted by 
Justice, I force my way into army barracks and 
see in them an academy of assassination, I am the breath of the revolution
"

It hardly seems a coincidence that modern-day 
anarchists struck in September, "the patriotic 
month" when Mexicans celebrate the declaration of 
their independence from Spain in 1810, the 
bicentennial of which, along with the centennial 
of the Mexican Revolution, is on deck in 2010. 
President Felipe Calderon has budgeted billions 
of pesos to mark the twin centennials even as 
Mexico is mired in a bottomless recession that 
has driven millions of workers into the streets. 
Ironically, the Calderon government has 
reportedly contracted a Hollywood production 
outfit with the very anarchist brand-name 
"Autonomy" for $60,000,000 USD to mount 
centennial "spectaculars" - in 2008, "Autonomy" 
staged the spectacular pageant that opened the Beijing Olympics.

In invoking Praxides G. Guerrero's hallowed name, 
anarchist bombers appear to be celebrating the 
vital role their ideological forbearers played in 
the Mexican revolution, the first great uprising 
of the landless in the Americas and an immediate 
precursor of the Russian revolution.

Anarchism in Mexico dates back to the first days 
of the republic when in 1824, North American 
followers of the Welsh utopian socialist Robert 
Owen unsuccessfully sought to establish colonies 
along the border in Chihuahua. In the 1860s, 
anarchism doing business as "mutualism" (i.e. 
working class solidarity) took root in the 
burgeoning Mexican labor movement - mutualism's 
most significant representation was the House of 
The World Worker (Casa de Obrero Mundial") that 
flourished during the early days of the revolution.

As the Mexican revolution crested at the turn 
into the 20th century, anarchism gained an early 
foothold. Ricardo and Enrique Flores Magon's 
newspaper "Regeneracion" ("Regeneration") was 
passed from hand to hand and widely read by those 
who sought the dictator's overthrow. Repeatedly 
imprisoned by Porfirio Diaz, Ricardo and Enrique 
fled to the U.S. where they clandestinely 
continued to publish "Regeneracion." The 
anarchist duo was pursued by both Diaz's agents 
and U.S. immigration authorities and forced to 
flee from city to city (San Antonio, Los Angeles, 
S. Louis.) Imprisoned for violating the 1917 
version of the Patriot Act, Ricardo Flores Magon 
died in Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary in 1922 
under mysterious circumstances that suggest he 
was strangled by prison guards for flying a 
Mexican flag in his cell. A century after the 
Mexican revolution, a handful of campesino 
organizations in the Flores Magones' native state 
of Oaxaca continue to incorporate the brothers' names in their struggles.

During their ill-fated sojourn north of the 
border, the Magones forged links to U.S. 
anarchists. The IWW - the Industrial Workers of 
the World or Wobblies - which preached anarchism 
on the street corners of the American west, are 
said to have been the organizing force behind the 
miners' strike in the great Cananea copper pit in 
Sonora during which a score of workers were 
massacred by the Arizona Rangers - Cananea is 
considered the seedbed of the Mexican labor 
movement. The celebrated Chicago anarchist 
Voltairine de Cleyre contributed to Regeneracion 
and raised bail money for the Flores Magones. In 
1911, Joe Hill, the renowned Wobbly organizer and 
bard, rode with the Magonistas in a failed 
expedition to liberate Baja California.

Despite their margination from the revolutionary 
mainstream, Magonistas fought in the armies of 
Emiliano Zapata, Francisco Villa, and Venustiano 
Carranza although they were often singled out as 
troublemakers and executed by revolutionary firing squads.

The anarchist flame in Mexico would never have 
survived without the solidarity of Spanish 
exiles. Spanish anarchists played a critical role 
in the formation of the House of the World Worker 
and after the Spanish Civil War (1936-9) 
anarchist fighters and thinkers were offered 
sanctuary from Franco's fascist hordes in Mexico. 
Spanish anarchists founded the Social 
Reconstruction Library in downtown Mexico City, 
an invaluable repository of anarchist archives.

The Zapatista rebellion in Chiapas in 1994 
signaled the second coming of Mexican anarchism. 
The EZLN's rejection of dependence on the "mal 
gobierno" (bad government) and its insistence on 
collective action and the creation of autonomous 
zones in the southeast of that highly-indigenous 
state inspired collectives of young anarchists, 
often clustered around the National Autonomous 
University or UNAM. Anarchist activists spurred 
the 1999-2000 strike against a tuition hike at 
the National University. Ski-masked, so-called 
"ultras" with tags like "El Mosh", "El Gato", and 
"The Devil" drove the student struggle to 
sectarian excess and a clampdown by the federal 
police that resulted in 700 arrests.

The uproar at the 1999 Seattle conclave of the 
World Trade Organization was the first explosion 
of the anti-globalization movement in which 
anarchists would play a pivotal role. Black clad 
youth basked in the media spotlight in Seattle 
but property damage against franchise chains like 
Niketown by the self-named "Black Bloc" 
purportedly animated by the writings of U.S. 
anarchist guru John Zerzan, offended mainstream 
anti-globalization groups like Global Exchange 
whose founder, Medea Benjamin called for their 
arrest. The Seattle uprising was first plotted at 
a 1996 anti-globalization forum staged by the 
Zapatistas on the fringes of the Lacandon jungle.

The death of Black Blocker Carlo Giuliani under 
the guns of the police at the 2001 Genoa Italy 
G-8 summit had deep scratch in the Zapatista zone 
where a clinic has been named for the anarchist 
martyr at Oventic, the rebels' most public 
outpost - the Giuliani family has contributed an ambulance.

Mexican black blockers went into action at the 
2003 WTO fiasco in the luxury port of Cancun. 
Armed with Molotov cocktails, shopping carts 
filled with rocks, and home-made battering rams, 
the anarchos threatened to storm police 
barricades but spontaneous peace-making by 
indigenous women protestors helped avoid 
bloodshed and the black-clad militants decided to 
burn down a local pizza parlor instead.

Bloodshed was on the agenda at a 2004 
Ibero-American summit in Guadalajara when then 
Governor Francisco Ramirez Acuna (now president 
of the lower house of the Mexican congress) 
unleashed his robocops on an anti-globalization 
rally. Young anarchists were beaten into the 
sidewalk like so many baby harp seals and dragged 
off to gaol where police torture continued for 
weeks. Several block blockers were held for 
nearly a year despite the outcry from the international human rights community.

Anarchist collectives in Mexico City are not 
universally unruly. La Karakola, a collective 
that swears allegiance to Zapatismo and 
non-violence, would just as soon dance as toss 
rocks at the cops. Anarcho "squats" take over 
abandoned buildings - the "okupas" modeled on 
those run by Barcelona activists pop up in 
unlikely neighborhoods such as the squat house 
under the towering Torre Mayor, an 88-story 
skyscraper on swanky Reforma boulevard.

Punky anarchist fashion - black clothes, studded 
leather jackets, piercings, exotic hairstyles, 
and a written language in which "k's" replace 
"c's", is popular with dissident big city youth 
and on display Saturday mornings at the Chopo 
Bazaar and evenings at the Alicia Forum where 
punk meets anarchism. But most anarcho 
"fashionistas" are not bombers - it's a struggle 
to slip a ski mask over a Mohawk.

2006 seems to be the year that anarcho fury at 
the destruction of the planet took wings - the 
earliest postings on the Total Liberation page 
date from then. The first actions were little 
publicized and dismissed by police and the media 
as vandalism - destruction of pay phones 
installed by Telmex, owned by tycoon Carlos Slim, 
the richest man in Latin America, is a popular 
sport. Sabotage peaked in 2008 when 129 actions 
were recorded, most of them non-violent such as 
the liberation of slaughter house-bound chickens 
and the reconfiguration of bull ring signage 
transforming the Toluca Plaza de Torros into a "Plaza of Torturers."

One exception was the torching of a leather expo 
in Leon Guanajuato, the shoe and boot capital of 
Mexico. On October 2nd, the 40th anniversary of 
the 1968 student massacre, fast food franchises 
were Molotov-ed in the capital's old quarter and 
13 anarchists arrested. Fake bombs were 
subsequently planted at MacDonald's, KTC, and 
Burger King in ten provincial cities.

The September wave of bombings was a defiant step 
upwards but not by much - the "bombs" were 
primitively fashioned from butane tanks used by 
plumbers to solder pipes and detonated by bottle 
rockets. All bombings occurred during early 
morning hours to avoid human casualties although 
some stray dogs and cats may have been singed.

Despite the lack of lethal intent, the bombings 
have riveted the attentions of numerous security 
forces, particularly the CISEN, Mexico's lead 
intelligence agency which is reportedly spread 
thin trying to keep tabs on plans by clandestine 
guerrilla bands ranging from the Zapatistas to 
the EPR to foment armed uprising during the 100th 
birthday party of the Mexican revolution to which 
all Mexicans, regardless of ideological persuasion, have been invited.

John Ross' monstrous "El Monstruo - Dread & 
Redemption In Mexico City" will hit the streets 
in November (to read raving reviews from the 
likes of Mike Davis and Jeremy Scahill go to 
www.nationbooks.org.) Ross will be traveling 
Gringolandia much of 2009-2010 with "El Monstruo" 
and his new Haymarket title "Iraqigirl", the 
diary of a teenager growing up under U.S. 
occupation. If you have a venue for presentations 
he would like to talk to you at <mailto:johnross at igc.org>johnross at igc.org




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