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Atenco leaders sentenced for kidnapping

7 May 2007

Bill Weinberg posted yesterday on the WW4 Report:


Three campesino leaders from San Salvador Atenco were each sentenced to 67 years and six months in prison on charges of kidnapping May 5. The sentences come almost exactly a year after a violent clash between Atenco residents and Mexican state and federal police troops. Ignacio del Valle, Felipe Alvarez and Héctor Galindo, leaders of the People’s Front in Defense of the Land (FPDT), have five days to appeal the verdict. The charges are related to incidents in February and April 2006, when FPDT members allegedly held State of Mexico officials captive. Although the leaders were arrested in the aftermath of the May 2006 violence, the judge said his decision was based solely upon “the kidnapping and illegal detention of the state officials.” (El Universal, May 6)

Campesinos from San Salvador Atenco organized the FPDT in 2002 to oppose the confiscation of village lands for construction of a new airport for Mexico City. The project was cancelled following a campaign of protests which sometimes included the detainment of officials the FPDT said were illegally on village lands.

(full article at

Atenco was the proposed site for a new Mexico City airport. The locals were never consulted, and a buyout plan for the Ejito San Salvador Atenco led to very noisy and visable protests in the Capital and the creation of a “municipio libre” (basically, the township declared independence from the state… think of a tenants’ strike on a large scale… and you won’t find the municipio in your Guia Roji. It’s not part of the State of Mexico, so… on the Guia Roji map of Mexico City and the surrounding parts of the states, Plato 61, is blank.).

It’s perfectly legal to set up a municipio libre, and there is a whole body of Mexican and Spanish legal history behind them Cortés, as soon as he landed in Veracruz, organized a city council before they built any shelters. Cortés invaded Mexico with a couple of lawyers in tow… and had been to law school himself. As a free commune, the conquistadors could claim they were independent of the Cuban governor, and — conveniently — “elect” Cortés as head of the local militia. Venustiano Carranza, for all his faults, was not a bad scholar. He was a student of the Mexican constitution of 1857, and based the legitimacy of the Constitutionalist uprising against Huerta’s 1912 coup on the rights of municipio libres — the Constitutionalists claimed loyalty to the Mexican state, not the particular administration, which they claimed (rightly) was illegal.

So, San Salvador Atenco — in something of a “Mexican standoff” with the State of Mexico — went its own way until last May. It’s still confusing, but a “perfect storm” of election organizers, Zapatistas and attempts by local authorities to “punish” the non-conforming commune by dislodging flower sellers from Texcoco markets led to the uprising that finally led the feds, and the State, to crack down. The Supreme Court agreed to look into human rights and political abuses from stemming from the police over-reaction, but these particular kidnapping charges stem from incidents leading up to the May, 2006 “Flower War”.

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