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.

Kill Franco!

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

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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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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.

Stuart Christie 1946-2020: anarchist, antifascist, publisher and educator

Stuart Christie passed away on the 15th August 2020, the anniversary of the day in 1964 that the Spanish state announced the capture of two ‘terrorists’ in an attempt (one of many) on the life of the fascist dictator Francisco Franco. He will be sorely missed.

Short biography by John Patten here.

Bella Caledonia

If you would like to share your own memories of Stuart for a more comprehensive biography contact KSL, BM Hurricane, London  WC1N 3XX. or e -mail:

info@katesharpleylibrary.net

His work on the historiography of the anarchist movement and the Spanish Civil War can be sampled here:

https://christiebooks.co.uk

his anarchist film archive:

https://christiebooks.co.uk/anarchist-film-archive

If you would like to help carry on Stuart’s work paypal to:

christie@btclick.com

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Government announces plans to build four more mega-prisons.

corporate watch

On Sunday 28th June 2020, the British Government announced plans to build four new prisons. This article gives an update on the Prison Estates Transformation Programme – the state’s programme to create more than 10,000 prison places. This programme was the topic of Corporate Watch’s Prison Island report about prison expansion in England, Wales and Scotland published in 2018.

Summary

  • One new prison is planned for the North-West of England
  • Two new prisons are planned in the South-East of England
  • The announcement includes the already-in-process mega-prison at the site next to HMP Full Sutton in East Yorkshire.
  • Two previously announced prisons are also in the midst of construction in Wellingborough and Leicestershire.
  • If all the prisons are successfully built, a total of 13,360 new prison places will have been created, massively expanding the prison system.
  • The government has been boasting about its plans to create 10,000 new prison places since 2016, however, has only created 206 new places in the last four years.
  • Resistance to prison expansion and government bureaucracy have significantly delayed the programme.

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J.K. Rowling and The Chamber of Terfdom.

I’m going to be 27 by the time 2020 comes to a close and as someone who is firmly in the millennial category, the whole universe of Harry Potter has been a fixture in both my childhood and my adult life. As a kid I remember my dad taking time out from his taxi driving job on a Friday night so he could join the queues at my hometown’s sole bookshop to be one of the first to obtain the new Harry Potter book.

The first time I remember going to the cinema was in 2001 to see the first Harry Potter film and I remember my excitement to see the story on the big screen as a seven year old boy shivering outside the tiny, two screen cinema that was in the big town about a half hour’s drive from our house. I remember how magical it was to escape into that world and I remember the messages of overcoming adversity resonating with my young self, being the only boy in the class with cerebral palsy and having to wear brightly coloured leg splints and having daily sessions of physiotherapy.

In my teenage years, I retreated away from this world and dove full throttle into the worlds of Edgar Allan Poe, H.P Lovecraft, B-movies, The Rocky Horror Picture Show and 1980s slasher horror films. I believe these campy, macabre worlds were probably linked to the love my childhood self had for the kitchy, campy, creepy world of Harry Potter. As I approached my twenties and got diagnosed with a bipolar spectrum disorder, the world of my childhood provided much needed comfort at a time where I was experiencing frequent episodes of depression and psychosis whilst trying to complete a degree in English and live on my own for the very first time. Even during the current COVID-19 pandemic, one of my coping mechanisms at the beginning of lockdown was to watch a Harry Potter film on Saturday night by candlelight whilst eating Chinese takeaway.

All of this means that I was deeply disappointed by Rowling’s recent tweets that parroted the TERF talking points about “sex-based rights” and her absolute revulsion against the term “people who menstruate”. The damaging implications of sex essentialism have been documented on this blog and many others and I shall not repeat those same points. However, it says a lot that the world’s first billionaire author decides to use her time during a global pandemic and an uprising against state-sanctioned racism to further marginalise and vilify one of the most oppressed groups of people on this planet.

As a response to the criticism and fury she received on Twitter from trans people, queer people and their allies, she decided to write a 3,600 word essay on her blog. I’m not going to link it here because I do not wish to befoul this blog with transphobic rhetoric but it’s very easy to find if you want to read it; although, I would advise that it is very intense and it will probably be quite an upsetting read. I cried tears of rage reading it and I cried for the trans youth that I work with as a youth worker for a local LGBTQ+ charity.

In the essay, Rowling provides a narrative of her life in the early 1990s before Harry Potter exploded into our cultural consciousness. She frankly and openly talks about being a survivor of severe domestic and sexual abuse. As a sexual abuse survivor, I empathise with her and I do hope that she has been able to access the support needed to be able to process the trauma she has experienced.

The question that remains, however, is why did she choose this moment to speak about it? It plays into the unfounded, deeply bigoted caricature of trans women being men who just want to pose as women so they can sexually assault women in public bathrooms. When we look at the reality, we see that in the 21 countries which have introduced self-ID for trans people to change their birth certificates, none have reported an increase in sex crimes as a result. We can also look at several US States, the most notable being North Carolina, where bathroom bills were introduced and we see an increase in assaults being perpetrated against trans people in bathrooms and an increase in those same assaults against cisgender people who present in a gender nonconforming manner.

It is also important to consider that one of the “leaders” of the TERF movement, the increasingly irrelevant and deplorable former Labour Party hack that is Linda Bellos is actually on film saying that she would beat up a trans woman if she happened to be in the same bathroom as her. Approximately every 72 hours, a trans person is murdered somewhere in the world because of their gender identity and by playing into myths and caricatures, JK Rowling has put those people at increased risk.

Rowling also moves onto the topic of incels. Incels, for the record, are men who believe that they are owed the right to sex just because they happen to be male. They are angry that women choose not to sleep with them and several incels have gone on to commit murders of those women. They also harbour a hatred for the men that they see as stealing their opportunities to pursue the women that they wish to sleep with. Elliot Rodger murdered six people in California back in 2014 as “retribution” for his lack of sexual experience and activity.

In 2018, Alek Minassian murdered 10 people in a vehicle-ramming attack in downtown Toronto to instigate an “incel rebellion” and had written several internet posts praising Elliot Rodger. Many incels look at the Ecole Polytechnique massacre of 1989 as a positive thing and something to be inspired by. In this massacre, Marc Lepine burst into an engineering class, forced the men and women in the room to stand on opposite sides and shoot all six women there. He then rampaged for a further twenty minutes, killing eight more women before killing himself. His motive was to “fight feminism”.

Rowling will be acutely aware of how horrific these events are and how the state does not take violence against women seriously enough. Again, we have to question her motives around bringing up these issues in this particular moment. It is morally abhorrent and repugnant of her and her supporters to link trans people and their allies to incels. I’m a cisgender man but I stand with trans people who are just trying to live their lives as their authentic selves and be recognised as such. We are not murdering women to further this cause and we are not terrorists. We simply believe in human rights and in bodily autonomy. She should be ashamed of herself for insinuating that there is anything linking us to the incels and it proves that her interpretation of feminism is fundamentally and objectively wrong.

The final part of her essay I wish to address is where she talks about “Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria” (ROGD). ROGD is a pseudoscientific term used by the TERFs and their allies to try and explain away the large increase of young people seeking help and support with their gender identity. They like to blame a plethora of things for this which include but are not limited to; Japanese anime, tumblr, YouTube and autism. There is a link between being autistic and being transgender but that link is being actively researched by experts in the fields of neuroscience, neuropsychology and cognitive psychology and will probably take a long time to come to any semblance of a conclusion. On the other hand, ROGD has seemingly been invented in a chat room on Mumsnet.

As a youth worker who is directly working with these young people, I can confidently say that ROGD is baseless and unfounded. Young people have access to the internet and they are able to learn about gender outside of a Eurocentric viewpoint. Young people have always explored their gender identity but it is only now that they have the tools and the vocabulary to be able to do so fully. Do I think that every single one of my young people who identify as transgender is going to end up transitioning as an adult? Possibly, possibly not. In spite of that, it is important that young people are able to access the support and guidance that they need whilst exploring their gender identity.

They need compassionate and empathic people around them especially as 80% of trans young people will self harm and about half will attempt suicide. These young people are very vulnerable in a world where transgender people are treated as though they are the lowest class of citizen and by using ROGD as an excuse to explain all this away, Rowling and her allies are creating moral panic reminiscent of the moral panic around gay men in the 1980s and 1990s. It is this kind of language that causes governments to enact legislation like Section 28 that will damage a whole generation of young people.

I do not believe that JK Rowling is an inherently hateful person because a hateful person could not have written the Harry Potter series which is essentially an antifascist parable; despite its use of questionable antisemitic and racial stereotypes. What I believe is, like many women who grew up in second wave feminism, JK Rowling is using her platform to try and stay relevant in a culture that has long since moved on. I also believe that she has possibly been radicalised by the likes of Linda Bellos and Graham Lineham on Twitter. Rowling does not need to indulge in this desperate attempt to remain culturally relevant as Harry Potter has become a permanent and ubiquitous fixture of popular culture. People come from around the world just to have their pictures taken at Kings Cross Station where they’ve set up the entrance to Platform nine and three-quarters.

Rowling has often tried to pander to us LGBTQ+ folks, wildly announcing that certain characters in the series are LGBTQ+ when no hint of that was given in the original stories. It is this that makes her latest outbursts beyond offensive. She has used our community to make money and royalties for herself whilst throwing the most vulnerable people in our community under the Hogwarts Express.

I still love those stories of my childhood and I am taking relative comfort in Barthes’ The Death of the Author to take some sort of ownership of those stories and to separate them from a woman I once admired. Her following is large but the loudest voices in that following are the minority and many of the actors who brought those stories to life have expressed their unequivocal support for transgender people. We will win this fight and we must stand in solidarity with our trans siblings, always.

It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities”

– Albus Dumbeldore

Paul Haw