viernes, mayo 26, 2006

The Zapatista Other Campaign and the Netwar over Defining Atenco

Today on Narco News:

How a Horizontal Communications Network Unmasked Repression and Simulation by the Mexican State and Media

By Al Giordano
First of Two Parts
May 26, 2006

A suspension by the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN, in its Spanish initials) of its participation in what began as a journey throughout Mexico titled “the Other Campaign” has not stopped nor stalled the rollercoaster ride that so many, including this team of reporters, have been on since January. The atrocities of May 3 and 4 in San Salvador Atenco and Texcoco (and on the way to, and inside, the prisons of the state of Mexico) have ratcheted up the velocity of a movement and also the gravity of the forces that want it stopped.

But nothing stops nor slows the tumult: not assassination, not rape, not brutality, not mass media simulation, not censorship nor terror. Beginning on May 3, the Mexican State of Vicente Fox and his foreign sponsors attacked a concentration of Other Campaign adherents with every weapon and power in their hands. Three weeks later, they have failed: the opposition is still on its feet, drawing support from previously standoffish sectors (mainly those who had placed their faith in Mexico’s upcoming July 2nd “elections,” despite the country’s dark history of electoral fraud that is looming, again, in 2006), and the forces “from below and to the left” have won the battle over defining the story in what has been an apocalyptic media war (a Netwar, or Cyberwar, say the Pentagon analysts over at the Rand Corporation that study things “from above and to the right”).

The media war of the past three weeks has been over how the Atenco blow-up would be defined. In the early days, the mass media had the upper hand and greater firepower: they worked overtime to try and define the seminal moment in Atenco-Texcoco as an attack by hordes of machete-wielding hoi polloi — portrayed as dirty, smelly, anti-social, mercenary, and out of sync with the average citizen’s desire for peace and wellbeing — while their news anchors cheered the supposedly noble efforts by the government to restore law and order.

The mass media — the upper class’ most powerful weapon in the “class struggle” that is waged daily from above — deployed all the arms at their disposal. From their helicopters they filmed a violent confrontation between police and citizens over a battlefield known as the Lecheria-Texcoco highway. From their control rooms — enjoying unparalleled state-of-the-art technology and satellite support — they (selectively) broadcast the conflict live. From their privileged and elite access to the public airwaves, they bombarded the populace with gut-wrenching violent images. The nation was glued to the TV screen.

The atomic image shown over, and over, and over again by the media from above was that of a police officer captured, beaten, kicked in the balls, and dragged and kicked again by a dozen, maybe 20, individuals who were battling against the police for control of the highway. From the desks of the media bosses they wrote a script and repeated it all day and night, cheering on the State to go in there and, by any means necessary, kick some ass and avenge the attack on that cop, to put a stop to what they portrayed as the lumpen machete-sword horde.

But the forces from above made the same mistake they have made so many times before: they lied. They claimed that it had been a protestor’s firecracker that killed a 14-year-old boy. The autopsy later revealed that he was shot at point-blank range with a police bullet. They claimed that the police didn’t carry firearms. Later, photos began circulating of the cops aiming their guns. The mass media were able to hide the rest of the story only for a limited span of time. Within days their authoritarian script was in tatters. As in 1999, when the Mexican national network TV Azteca distorted the shooting death of one of its “reporters,” only for the facts to explode next in the network’s face when it was learned that their man was a narco-trafficker killed for not paying the bills on his cocaine habit, the Atenco story has now mutated into something else altogether.

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