The Assassination of Don Tomás

Voices in Movement

Luis Hernández Navarro

Tomás Martínez Pinacho was preparing to eat something at Los Primos taqueria, in the municipality of Ánimas Trujano, Oaxaca, when a heavily armed commando shot him with a bullet. It was 6:30 pm on August 24th and he was returning from participating in a rally of 2,600 people in the state capital. His lifeless body was left sown to his chair.

The biography of don Tomás – as he was affectionately called by his comrades in the Sierra Sur – intersects with the social struggles of the district of Miahuatlán over the past 30 years. His trajectory was summarized in one word: struggle. He organized the Union of Poor Peasants; he managed better water services and garbage collection; he opposed the construction of the Cefereso in the municipality; he mobilized so that government resources would reach communities, agencies and ranches and not remain in the headwaters; he was re-elected as candidate for municipal president and for councilman; he supported the protests of democratic teachers against educational reform and in favor of public education, and he actively opposed open-pit mining.

He was born in Miahuatlán de Porfirio Díaz, on March 7, 1956, to a very humble family. His father was a farmer. As a child, Tomas supported his mother in selling tortillas at the center. He studied a few years of elementary school between 1965 and 1969, at the Leona Vicario School, and then migrated to Mexico City. In Naucalpan, State of Mexico, he continued his studies at the Manuel Avila Camacho night school and at the INEA. He sold food at the Teatro Blanquita. He worked in a grocery store until he returned to his hometown in 1990.

The attitude and commitment of democratic professor Germán Mendoza Nube, several times arrested and tortured for his participation in popular struggles, marked him definitely. Tomás told how, on one occasion when a comrade of Germán’s went to look for him because he had a difficulty, the teacher, in spite of having to move on a wheelchair, got up from bed, got on his chair and went to solve the problem. Germán’s attitude impacted Tomás. At that moment he said to himself: I have two hands, I have two feet. I return to my community and begin to fight for my companions, for the people.

That’s how he did it. Since then, Martínez Pinacho joined the Union of Poor Peasants and the Revolutionary People’s Front (FPR), in a struggle that only his murder stopped. He toured the communities, appointed the organization’s basic committees, collected the demands and needs of the populations, their agricultural conflicts.

Tomás actively participated as a councilman in the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO) in 2006, which demanded the resignation of Governor Ulises Ruiz. For this reason he was persecuted, harassed and forced into hiding.

In Oaxaca there are about 300 mining concessions, three of them in the Sierra Sur: in Suchixtepec, another in the Coatlanes and one very close to Miahuatlán, in communities of Zompantle and Ocote. Don Tomás played a central role in the resistance to open-pit mining in the region, with the engineer Bernardo Vázquez Sánchez, who was murdered on March 15, 2012, for opposing the Fortuna Silver Mines project in San José del Progreso. In 2018, after a work of information and organization in the communities that began in 2016, he promoted the formation of the Frente Regional de la Sierra Sur en Defensa del Territorio, los Recursos Naturales y la Libre Autodeterminación de los Pueblos, in rejection of mining, in which social organizations such as MULT, API-PUP, FPR, section 22-CNTE, MAS and Coordinadora de Comunidades de Loxicha also participated.

Unfortunately, events such as don Tomás’ murder are far from being an exception in this government. According to the organization Front Line Defenders, Mexico is the fourth most dangerous country in the world for human rights defenders. In 2019 alone, 24 activists, environmentalists and land defenders were murdered. In May, several organizations, including the German Coordination for Human Rights in Mexico, documented that at least 30 human rights defenders have been killed during López Obrador’s six-year term.

Son of a dyke and a farmer, simple and extremely humble, Tomás was always concerned about the people who came to see him and those who sought him out for some support. He was dismissed in Miahuatlán by his comrades, friends and family, in a massive public tribute, in the midst of endless rain, the explosion of rockets and inconsolable expressions of rage and mourning.

The crime of don Tomás left in the Sierra Sur a mixture of pain and commitment to keep his saga alive. In the words of his son José Alberto: I am in pain as my father, as my mentor, as my comrade in struggle, but the struggle of Tomás Martínez remains. The State thought that by killing him everything would end. It is the opposite. Tomás Martínez is revived in hundreds, in thousands who today are asking for justice together.

EN/ES/DE/FR – ‘On the tightrope: Contributions and considerations from and for the anarchic combat’ – Letter by imprisoned anarchist comrade Francisco Solar

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On July 24, 2020, the anarchist comrades Monica Caballero and Francisco Solar were arrested. Francisco is accused of sending package bombs against the 54th police station and against the former Minister of the Interior, Rodrigo Hinzpeter, in July 2019, in an action claimed by “Seditious Accomplices/Fraction for Revenge“. While both are also accused of the double explosive attack against the Tánica building in the wealthy neighborhood of Vitacura on February 27, 2020, during the middle of the uprising in Chile, which was an action claimed by “Armed Affinities in Revolt“.

Both comrades are known not only for this case of repression, they have faced different repressive operations in Chile and Spain previously, but they are also known in the different environments of struggle, being active in publications, demonstrations, radio programs and initiatives against power.

On the tightrope: Contributions and considerations from and for the anarchic combat.

This text aims to contribute to the development and deepening of the informal anarchic combat, taking into consideration the increasingly specialized technological advances of control and surveillance of the population in general and, specially, of those who venture to rebel against what is established.

It arises from the need to bash the power harder and constantly in order to create cracks that can keep on growing.

It comes as no surprise to anyone

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Kill Franco!

Stuart Christie recounts the anti-Fascist resistance in post war Spain, including his own attempt to assassinate the dictator Francisco Franco.

Stuart Christie, the Eternal Young Rebel Always in the Fight for Life, by Xavier Montanyà

Kate Sharpley Library.

Stuart Christie was born in Glasgow in 1946, too late to enlist in the International Brigades and go off and fight alongside the Spanish republicans in the 1936-39 war. As a child, though, he befriended some Scottish miners who had fought with the International Brigades in that faraway war that he was to take so closely to his heart. A war for ideals that were and are universal. He used to listen in wonder to the tales they used to tell. Taking a pride in them. Such conversations moulded his sensibility to life and struggle.

He did not know it yet, but Stuart would later be ready to carry on with their fight. He would try to complete his friends’ task in Spain. From then on, that was to be his mission and his life. A commitment to the struggle that would be deployed across many fronts. Internationalist, revolutionary antifascist activism, direct action and history, publishing and investigative journalism. Stuart Christie was the real thing, a free man.

As he was to put it in the first volume of his memoirs The Christie File: Part 1, 1946-1964: My Granny Made Me An Anarchist (2002), his granny

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Mr Wu no longer has a laundry … by Mal Content.

Pondering the controversy over ‘patriotic’ songs:

‘Land of hope and glory’ is an awful dirge and anyone who claims this as part of their culture is a bit of a muppet. ‘Rule Brittania’ is only slightly more interesting, part of a long-forgotten opera about King Alfred the great, who founded the British navy. Its political message is against Scottish secession, as one who thinks Wessex should never have gone into England, I disagree.

Some years ago, for reasons that escape me now, the BBC invited the public to nominate tunes that summed up “Englishness”, or may be it was “Britishness”, I forget. My submission was ‘Mr Wu’s a Window Cleaner Now’ by the late George Formby. Formby’s irrepressible character sums up the values commonly espoused by the English Working Class: irreverent, gregarious, hard-working, resourceful, he’s never going to give up. He also represents the diverse ethnic make up of our class, even in Formby’s day.

There is a sub-text that illuminates the dark side of Englishness. Aggressively Working Class entertainer Formby, who managed to get himself deported from South Africa for defying racial segregation (it was actually Beryl Formby who told the National Party leader to “piss off”) nevertheless manages to reproduce the racial stereotypes of his day. The cheeky, womanising Mr Wu is simultaneously “one of us” and “the other”.

A real-life Mr Wu would have lived through the ‘yellow peril’ era of the early Twentieth Century, like his Jewish and Irish neighbours in the East End he would have had to take care of himself extremely well just to hold his ground. He’s still in Limehouse in 1942, when he crops up as an air-raid warden, so undoubtedly he would have fought at Cable Street in 1936, against the cops, against the law. By 1944 he’s a fighter pilot.

Maybe he went to Spain?

“He used to iron jackets,

now he’s shooting fascists,

cos’ Mr Wu’s a Brigadista now”

Or something. Next time you’re feeling ‘patriotic’ big up Mr Wu, East End Working Class hero.

Red and Black Telly roundup.







Octavio Alberola says goodbye to Stuart Christie

Octavio Alberola at Kate Sharpley Library.

Octavio Alberola, who was in charge of Defensa Interior and was a close friend of Stuart’s has left us this farewell message to his friend.

Stuart Christie, comrade and friend

The news of Stuart Christie’s death arrived by phone halfway through yesterday afternoon from comrade René after he asked if I had heard the bad news and after I quizzed him brusquely: Who’s dead? I could tell from his tone of voice that it must have been somebody close who had passed away.

René’s answer stopped me in my tracks, because even though Stuart had told me a week before that the cancer had left him still hoarse and that the findings of his medical tests were none too encouraging, it never at any moment occurred to me that he would be taken so quickly. I am surrounded by several male and female comrades – more or less of my own age – who are in none too rude health and at my age (due to turn 93 shortly) the thought that one’s days are numbered is just “normal”.

But in Stuart’s case, how could this be when he was eighteen years my junior? Besides, we had both been working on joint projects and both had been determined to plough ahead with our battles with the world of authority and exploitation.

To me, his death represents not just the loss of a comrade and friend but an end to long years collaborating on joint actions and initiatives designed to expose the injustices of the world in which we live and the fight for a fairer, freer world. A world that is possible for all of us who have not given up on wishing and trying to work towards a consistent practice of active, internationalist revolutionary solidarity.

We have known many years of brotherly relations ever since our first meeting back in August 1964 and up until 2020, without interruption. Half a century of our lives in tandem, one way or another, working on behalf of a common cause, heedless of borders. That struggle, though centred on the Spanish people’s political and social vagaries, initially under the Franco dictatorship and later under this phoney democracy spawned by the Transition/Transaction, has at all times carried the imprint of an internationalist revolutionary outlook.

The evidence of that, in Stuart’s case, was the time he spent behind bars in Spain and England, and in the case of Brenda his partner, in Germany and, in the cases of Ariane and myself, in Belgium and France. Experiences that bear witness to struggles that knew no borders as we knew that a characteristic of freedom is that it is the right of every man and woman.

So how could I not feel impelled to remember it now that our fraternization with Stuart has ended with his death? As well as with the death just a few days ago of the German comrade Doris Ensinger, the partner of Luis Andrés Edo, with whom Stuart shared some of his prison experiences and with whom he rubbed shoulders in their struggles; obviously, speaking for myself, the loss of Doris in a way represented the final ending of my fraternization-in-struggle with Luis. A finale that started some years back with Luis’s own death.

The fact is that in the case of Doris’s death too I was stopped in my tracks, startled by the news of her demise communicated to me by Manel, as barely a week earlier she had sent Tomás and me an email to let us know that she had been abruptly recalled to the hospital and undergone a transplant operation … But was now back home and feeling well …

Meaning that yet again I am brought face to face with the tenuousness of our existence and the need to preserve the memory of what we strove to be and do, to the very death.

Perpignan, 17 August 2020

Octavio Alberola

From RojoyNegro_Digital el Mar, 18/08/20; 15:02 http://rojoynegro.info/articulo/memoria/octavio-alberola-se-despide-stuart-christie

Translated by: Paul Sharkey.

Obituary: Stuart Christie (1946-2020)

Anarchist Communist Group.

We mourn the loss of our anarchist comrade Stuart Christie who died on August 15th. It was thanks to people like Stuart Christie and Albert Meltzer that British anarchism began to break with the liberal, quietist, gradualist and “non-violent” outlook that had pervaded it since the end of the Second World War. They sought to return it to its radical roots, back to a revolutionary working class anarchism that had first emerged with the First International.

Joining the Anarchist Federation in Glasgow in 1962, Stuart became involved in the anti- nuclear bombs movement, at first with the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and then with the more radical direct-actionist wing of the anti-bomb movement, the Direct Action Committee and its successor the Committee of 100.

Stuart made contact with the action groups of the exiled Spanish anarchist movement, organised around Internal Defence (DI) and involving militants of long standing like Octavio Alberola and Luis Andres Edo. As such he was arrested in Spain in 1964 and charged with the possession of explosives. These were intended for an attempt on Franco’s life and he was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment. Thanks to a continuing international campaign he was freed after 3 years.

Returning to Britain he re-founded the Anarchist Black Cross with Albert Meltzer, which acted as a support organisation for prisoners internationally. Its bulletin transformed itself into Black Flag, a paper advocating revolutionary class struggle anarchism.

Stuart Christie co-wrote The Floodgates of Anarchy with Meltzer in 1970, which further popularised class struggle anarchism. He strongly believed in the power of the printed word and founded Cienfuegos Press and Cienfuegos Press Review. He was also involved in the setting up in the Centro Iberica and International Libertarian Centre in London with the Spanish militant Miguel Garcia.

In 1972 he and other defendants were acquitted in the Angry Brigade trial. In 1974 he moved to Orkney and edited a local radical paper there, the Free-Winged Eagle. In 1981 he moved to Hastings and set up the Anarchist Film Channel in 2006. He also produced a three-volume autobiography which was then condensed into a bestselling paperback Granny Made Me an Anarchist in 2004. In addition, Stuart brought out his history of the Federacion Anarquista Iberica, We, The Anarchists! And re-published Jose Peirats’ three volume history of the Spanish anarchist movement, continuing his publication and distribution of books and films through his Christie Books.

Stuart did much to popularise class struggle anarchism, and his importance to the movement in Britain cannot be underestimated. He was definitely “on the side of the angels”. However, it would be false to say that there were no differences with the current in British anarchism which has culminated in the Anarchist Communist Group. He was suspicious of specific anarchist organisations, preferring an approach of ad hoc organisation and networks of affinity groups. As a result, he was to characterise the Organisation of Revolutionary Anarchists as “semi-Trotskyist”. Similarly, he gained entrance for the Franco-German militant Daniel Cohn-Bendit, with whom he shared similar organisational views, to the congress in Carrara in Italy of the International of Anarchist Federations. Cohn-Bendit promptly denounced the Cuban anarchists present as agents of the CIA for daring to criticise the Castro regime. As Stuart was to write himself: “He had no proof whatsoever for this accusation…” Well, now Cohn-Bendit is a reformist politician, which speaks for itself. Stuart thought that the existing anarchist federations were sclerotic, oligarchic and bureaucratic and indeed there was some truth in this, with people like Federica Montseny and Germinal Esgleas of the exiled CNT-FAI, always opposed to militant direct action, carrying out bureaucratic manoeuvres at the congress. However, there were also present many long-term anarchist communist militants like Alfonso Failla, Mario Mantovani and Umberto Marzocchi. Was it the right decision to abandon the Congress and set up an informal one at the beach nearby as Stuart and others did? The Congress represented a clash between different generations, but it also represented a clash between spontaneism and organisation. Certainly, one of the positive things that came out of the informal congress was the idea to set up Anarchist Black Crosses in different countries, but looking back was it not a good idea to develop better relations with the best of the militants of previous generations?

Despite these fraternal criticisms, we appreciate the many beneficial influences that Stuart had on British anarchism, not least the creation of the ABC, Black Flag, and his consistent publishing efforts. Stuart was a comrade of great charm, warmth, humour and a wide and expansive culture. He will be sorely missed. We extend our condolences to his daughter and granddaughters.

Message from the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Southampton – protest tomorrow.

Dear All

I hope you are well and not wilting in the heat. Thank you to everyone who supported Glyn, Jon and Sally on their Big Ride for Palestine. They raised £300 for the Middle East Children’s Alliance and the money will be targeted for children’s Play equipment in Gaza.

Stop Arming Israel Campaign -HSBC Bank Town Centre- 22nd August

Southampton PSC will be Campaigning outside HSBC Bank in the town centre, Above Bar Street on 22nd August from 10.30 am -12.30. Please come and add your voice. We will be asking people to sign a petition asking the UK Government to place a two way arms embargo on Israel.

According to the Campaign against the Arms Trade, between 2014-2018 the UK provided export licenses for the export of military equipment to Israel worth £364 million.

HSBC bank invests in and provides financial services to, companies such as BAE Systems and Raytheon that provide arms to Israel.HSBC also invests in Caterpillar, a company that provides armed bulldozers that Israel uses to destroy Palestinian homes.

Please come and get involved in this campaign.

We will have flags and placards. We will be respecting social distancing guidelines and we advise that you wear a face covering.

We look forward to seeing you.

Warm Regards Cathryn Spiller (Secretary Southampton PSC)

Remember to follow us on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/southamptonpsc

Red and Black Telly roundup.