Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Tepoztlán and Movements for Autonomy in México

A Narconews report on a community's response to "a building project that would’ve turned communal lands into a golf course. When the people of Tepoztlán found out about the plan, they expulsed the mayor and the police and barricaded all entrances to the town. During the eight months that followed, Tepoztlán organized its own community police and elected an autonomous government, free of political parties.


After eight months of autonomy, in April 1996, the police killed a local campesino, Marcos Olmedo, near the spot where Emiliano Zapata was shot exactly 76 years earlier. The man’s death was followed by the cancellation of the construction plan. The townspeople, exhausted and mourning but also pleased with their victory, gradually allowed the police and political parties to return to Tepoztlán.

Tepoztlán’s struggle is not the only of its kind. The eviction of the golf course marked a renaissance of resistance movements in the state of Morelos. During the almost 17 years that have passed since Tepoztlán first declared itself a free town, autonomous municipalities have popped up in different parts of the state. They have an impressive track record of winning most of their battles, but those victories have often been, like the one in Tepoztlán, tinged with sadness: many of the movements have failed to bridge the gaping class divisions that characterize Mexican society. Many times autonomy has lasted only a fleeting moment."

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