Activist killed during presidential inauguration


Violent clashes surrounded the inauguration of Mexico's new president, Enrique Pena Nieto, on 1st December. One activist of the #YoSoy132 movement was killed when hit by a tear-gas canister.

Carlos Valdivia, from Oaxaca, was seriously injured after being hit by a tear-gas canister and later died in hospital. There are also reports of more than 20 people in hospital. Photos show a lifeless Carlos being carried by his comrades on a barrier used as a makeshift stretcher.

The new president, Enrique Pena Nieto, was the governor of the State of Mexico from 2005–2011. He is responsible for the death of protesters in Atenco in 2006, when he ordered state and federal police forces to quash opposition to the construction of a new international airport. Human rights groups have charged the police with numerous rapes during those raids.

During the presidential race this year, Peña Nieto was challenged at a candidate's meeting at a university by students over the raids saying that "Atenco is not forgotten". After the event, prominent media outlets and politicians dismissed the attendees' reaction, saying that they had been "smuggled in" by contending parties, and were not really students. In response, 131 students who had attended the event posted a video on YouTube showing their student IDs and expressing discontent with the media reporting of the event. When people began expressing solidarity with the students by tweeting "I'm the 132nd student", the name "#YoSoy132" was coined.

The movement has held protests outside TV stations and nation-wide protests against Peña Nieto.

The elections were held on 1st July and Peña Nieto was declared the winner. However, there have been widespread accusations of electoral fraud. On July 27 protesters set up a 24 hour blockade around the main Televisa studios in Mexico City. On August 30 protesters gathered outside the offices of the Electoral Tribunal of the Federal Judiciary as the Magistrates declared that the claims made by the left-wing coalition were "unfounded" and were therefore rejected. Last week's inauguration saw big protests and clashes between protesters and police.

Many ((i))ndymedia readers will be familiar with the Zapatista movement in southern Mexico. The EZLN - the Zapatista Army of National Liberation - is an indigenous organisation that rose up on 1st January 1994, the day the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) came into effect. Their goal has been the creation of autonomous indigenous communities across Chiapas, but also wider societal change in Mexico. But there are also many other conflicts across Mexico that are probably less known outside of Mexico. The 2006 Oaxaca uprising was followed closely by activists around the world. A teachers' strike led to a city-occupation that was violently quashed by the army. One of the people who died on the barricades was ((i))ndymedia activist Brad Will.

The PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party), which ruled Mexico for 71 years between 1929 and 2000 and now just got back into power, will again face opposition from civil society for its right-wing policies. With huge inequality between rich and poor, a crippled economy, landless indigenous communities and huge social movements capable of mobilising millions, social change is inevitable in Mexico.

Carlos Valdivia - presente!

Further reading: Huffington Post | YoSoy132 | Mexican Elections

Photos: 1 | 2 | 3


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