Mexico Remembers 2006 Atenco Tragedy When Police Raped, Killed
Farmworkers from San Salvador Atenco commemorate 10 years since police violently attacked community.
On May 3 and May 4 of 2006, police displayed brutal violence killing two people, injuring 50 and raping 26 women, while also arresting 200.
In the first day of two days of events, members of the grassroots organizations People’s Front in Defence of the Land, or FPDT, as well as other residents of the semi-rural community of San Salvador Atenco, commemorated 10 years since police violently carried out a 10-hour operation that left more than 200 arrested, 50 injured, 2 dead and 26 women raped.
In the town square of San Salvador Atenco, the FPDT held a mass to remember the victims of the 3,000-member police operation ordered by then Mexico State Governor Enrique Peña Nieto, who is now the president, to detain members of the FPDT after they organized protests to defend local flower vendors facing evictions in early May of 2006.
“It was ugly and horrible, I was left with swelling around the brain, broken ribs, and later I had to hide in the community as they sought to arrest me,” Edan Espinoza, active member of the FPDT and victim to the excessive police violence carried out on both traffic days, told teleSUR.
Adan, as well as the other FPDT spokesperson, argued that the degree of violence displayed by the authorities was a sign of their disdain towards the community’s resistance to state sponsored public-private infrastructure projects, such as a 2001 decree by former President Vicente Fox to usurp the collectively owned lands — known as ejidos in Mexico — of San Salvador Atenco to build a new international airport.
“Although they have tried to enter our lands, including being accompanied by the army to build their projects, we are organized and implement our ‘uses and customs’ and communal practices to halt the project, to say enough!” said Marta Lopez, long-time member of the FPDT.
On Sept. 2, 2014, during his second state of the union speech, Peña Nieto, announced renewed plans to build a new and larger international airport on the federal lands adjacent to Salvador Atenco.
In fear of their lands being affected or the community being evicted in its entirety, 27 farmworkers from Atenco filed an injunction that was granted by the Ninth District Court in the State of Mexico last week that the initial highways and roads being built for the new airport project must be suspended until guarantee is given that this project will not directly affect the ejidal lands of the community.
While the community members of San Salvador Atenco continue to resist incursions on their land from urbanization or mega-projects they also say their activities to commemorate 10 years since the police repression is also to protest a recently approved Mexico State law.
Dubbed by activists as the Eruviel Law, named after the current state governor, Eruviel Avila, the law grants state authorities the use of lethal force, electrical discharges, and unrestricted discharges of aerosols or pepper sprays when the authorities consider a protest to be illegal or ‘dangerous’.
Many activists and members of the FPDT, believe the implementation of the law is to repress activists and social protest as well as to legitimate the unmeasured use of force by the authorities.
They believe the measure is being implemented now as protests against the construction of the airport near San Salvador Atenco increase, as well as other protests in other parts of the state where farmworkers or Indigenous communities seek to peacefully defend their territory from large scale infrastructure projects.