Wal-Mart takeover behind attack on Mexican town
Published May 16, 2006 10:16 PM
Mexican police attacked flower vendors in San
Salvador Atenco on May 3 as the vendors tried to sell in their usual area, now a
future site of a Wal-Mart.
The government-initiated attack against the
group of flower producers and their supporters was actually a result of a rarely
seen collaboration among Mexico’s three leading political
parties—the PRI, the PAN and the PRD—which supported the municipal
president of Texcoco in his opinion that the vendors “looked
The truth, however, is that small-scale vendors were getting
in the way of plans for big foreign companies to take over this town as they
have so many others in Mexico and around the world.
The flower vendors
were occupying the space in the Texcoco market when they were assaulted by
police. The next day before dawn the vendors returned with supporters from the
town of Atenco to confront the police and reoccupy their space.
again responded with violence, this time using batons and tear gas.
3,000 federal police surrounded the town of Atenco. They were later joined by
state and local police. The troops proceeded to launch so much tear gas that the
town was engulfed in a cloud. Some protesters were then arrested while others
were able to escape and hide.
Police then went from house to house,
smashing windows, breaking down doors and arresting more people. During the
confrontation, police gunfire killed a 14-year-old boy and left Alexis Benhumea,
a 20-year-old economics student at the Autonomous university of Mexico UNAM, in
a coma after a teargas canister struck him in the left temple.
leaders of the People’s Front in Defense of the Land, or what is being
called the Atenco movement, have been incarcerated along with hundreds of their
supporters and are among the most brutally tortured. There are currently more
than 200 political prisoners—women, men and children—captive in
Atenco. There have been several reports that police have raped women. In
addition the town has been invaded and plundered.
In response to the
attacks, people throughout Mexico and the United States have held protests. The
Chiapas Center for Independent Media released a statement calling for a boycott
The CMI says Wal-Mart “is an unwelcome guest for many
Mexican intellectuals, artists, working people and activists. This is not the
first time Wal-Mart has encountered problems moving in on new territory.
[Atenco] is a reflection of growing outrage about Wal-Mart’s unethical
business practices, notorious union-busting and general disregard for the people
affected by their practices.”
The same could be said about all the
foreign-owned corporations that move their factories and stores across borders
freely, while thousands of people die each year trying to cross those same
borders. These people are trying to escape the economic conditions created by
imperialism. The people of Atenco are not alone. It is inevitable that workers
will continue to rise up and defend themselves. It is their right to do so, by
any means necessary, as long as they are confronted with a system where profits
come before people.
Articles copyright 1995-2012 Workers World.
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