“Impossible just takes a little bit longer”: Demián Revart reports on the decision of the indigenous Suc-Tuc community in the Hopelchén municipality of Campeche, Mexico, to declare autonomous self-government, following their struggles against biotech multinational Monsanto as well as the Mexican state.
Translation by Isaac Rosas
“Impossible takes just a little bit longer”
-Someone said it. Today it is replicated in the walls (from the street and from Facebook)-
Towards a panorama where we put the reflectors
The current capitalistic order dictates the images of the world -and information- at their convenience. The alternatives that many seek before the global deterioration and that media dictatorship that prevents more people from knowing them is also centralized in vanguards, in historical resistances, leaving in the background other proposals that emerge, even more solid than those.
The work routine -and the study– is not referred to the exploitation of our time, energy and opportunities to perform other activities that do not fall into the monotony, in the “I wish I were not here”, it also subtracts panorama to our understand-the-space, to see other geographies, to the possibility of intertwining subject to subject, cause to cause. It is not impossible to leave our spheres.
While the main topics are still the #NoAlGasolinazo, Trump’s presidency, Obama’s hypocrisy in his last speech, etc., a Mayan community far from the metropolis has become a new banner of that speech that is repeated over and over to the point of fatigue -and as that New Year’s diet that we propose ever- is seldom put into practice: it is time to get organized!
In the municipality of Hopelchén in Campeche, the community of San Francisco Suc-Tuc has decided to be governed by uses and customs. What does this mean? On January 9, 10 and 11, after a days of historic deliberative assemblies, the people elected an autonomous Council of Government and three representatives who will serve as treasurer, secretary and sheriff, all of them decentralized and revocable for the administration that arises in future assemblies, a radical difference from what was set in the old constitutional order.
Now, they will see to the autonomous management of the territory and the social life in pursuit of the common interests, and no longer for what the local government has always transformed into business and profit of a few.
From the silenced humiliation to “the solution is in our voice”
Suc-Tuc is a relatively small communal territory that is crossed by the Campeche-Holpechén-Bolonchén highway, modernized in the middle of 2015. Its main source of income is consolidated in apiculture and agriculture, mainly in the production of creole corn. As for the population, the majority is of Mayan descent and 80% still speak the native language, there are other groups such as some Guatemalan families that have joined the locality (representing 2% of the population at the most). Official figures estimate an approximate 1179 inhabitants, although they say that “we are only 653 registered.”
There are more factors to consider for reading this territory. Since their immigration to Mexico in 1922, some groups of Mennonites inhabit the countryside of Campeche, demographic phenomenon that in time would mark a clear racial and privilege segregation between the productive majority (indigenous and mestizo) and the minority (Mennonite), this last one supported by the state organs.
The awakening for the self-management and a new lifestyle in Suc-Tuc has its first course of action in the fact that the government granted to Monsanto Company -with the support of SAGARPA and SEMARNAT-, 253,000 hectares for the production of genetically modified soybeans and other products on June 6, 2012. Among the most benefited mainstays by this juicy and illegal business, Mennonite families and sub-companies were found associated to this ecocide monopoly of transgenics who installed their machineries to begin to plant, and at the same time caused immense deforestation that was translated into serious problems of production for beekeepers (out of 10-15 drums produced daily, the amount dropped to 2-3).
The struggle was sudden in those years and people were instructed in the challenge of spontaneity. “When we knew and heard about transgenics, which we did not know what it was either, we already had them here. Then, through our organization, we started to know what transgenics are, what damage they do and who brings them. Then we became alert and also saw the effects that they were doing to beekeeping”  says Jose Luis, Mayan peasant and activist about this first precedent of organization.
Although illegal crops and these occurrences happened in the neighboring communities of Suc-Tuc (located in the center of Campeche and on the border with Yucatan), it was the process of chemical irrigation by light aircrafts the cause of direct damage in the public land was seen. Health has also been at risk. In August of 2016, several investigations of the Center of Ecology, Fisheries and Oceanography of the Gulf of Mexico (EPOMEX) of the Autonomous University of Campeche came to light, confirming the presence of glyphosate in the Hopelchén ground water, as well as in the blood and urine of women and children of Ich Ek, Suc-Tuc, San Juan Bautista Sacabchén and Crucero San Luis, where Mennonite producers have used for years that herbicide, considered as a deadly carcinogen .
Even though the distance between the labor privileges of these two groups is abysmal, there was no conflict that would lead to violence in the region.
The mind is prone to tracing a single course, monotonous, routine. It self eliminates the possible alternatives to living in a more accommodating and caring way, all due to the resignation and fear of raising awareness, negative feelings that are provoked by the labor exploitation and lack of opportunities in the countryside, provinces and -since the Colony- in the indigenous communities.
An uncertain future was the only certain thing for the people of Suc-Tuc. An unconscious empire cemented in “that’s the way we have to live and that’s how things will be”. I repeat: it was, in past tense.
And then … what caused Suc-Tuc to decide to self-determine and chart a new course? Let’s get to the recent facts. By the first days of December last year, the community attacked the initiative of meeting, discussing and deliberating from the suspicions of something that disturbed the majority – although in the first instance, directly affecting only a minority. Later, and with official documents at hand – obtained by some instances investigating the alleged “transparency” of government agencies, on Sunday, December 4, the population verified that the municipal commissioner Olivia Esther Ucán Chan was constricted in corruption; she diverted resources and falsified signatures on many legal documents corresponding to a scholarship program for youth in the community, parents reported the falsification of identities in those documents and, of course, that support never came to their hands.
People raised protests in the head of Hopelchén. On December 14, the assembly went to the city council to file the complaint where the commissioner is accused of fraud. From that demonstration, the municipality and the town government secretary, Javier Soberanis Acosta -a key figure in understanding the theater that the government has set up against the movement-, promised to convene a resolution meeting. However, they only let it go.
The agreed day was dated December 16. Cynically, no governmental authority came to the meeting, so, really angry, the villagers blocked the Campeche-Hopelchén highway at night. After three hours, three officials of the City Council arrived to discuss and it was agreed to “resolve the conflict” in an assembly in the Suc-Tuc police station. The first resolution number was the definitive dismissal of the commissioner. At the end of the night of December 17, when the agreement had been signed, and even someone was on the way to Ucán Chan’s house for her to sign his resignation, four trucks loaded with anti-riot specialists arrived. Armed with tear gas and batons, they entered the meeting place with verbal and psychological violence all the time, until they began to beat the few settlers who endured all day in the meeting; three of them were detained (Diego Armando Poot Pech, Jose Alfredo Poot Aguayo and Sergio Echazarreta Ucán). Outside the place, people who went to help the first beaten ones were rushed and thrown at rocks and tear gas; many cars windows and motorcycles were broken just because. People make responsible as intellectual actor of these events the governor of Campeche, Alejandro Moreno Cárdenas from PRI, accused of multiple repressions during his mandate since September 2015.
Witnesses who were in the meeting narrate that the PEP antiriot police (Policía Estatal Preventiva -State Preventive Police-), when entered, shouted threateningly “release the detainees!”, to this, the witnesses showed amazement, for the people of the government “were sat and even drinking soda”. And actually, the comptroller who served as a legal instance in the assembly accused the demonstrators of “illegal deprivation of freedom” and “obstruction of public roads,” fabricated felonies that are imputed to them today. As the last straw, the “attacked” denounced, literally: “I signed against my will, people held me back”.
Ka ‘Kuxtal Much’ Meyaj A.C. organization -which includes one of the prisoners- also testified to the facts in a virtual statement, stating that “(…) the community retreated, many sought refuge for not to be victims of the police beatings, however, others were more confronting when seeing that they were taking their friends or relatives, some could get free, but four people were taken to the police vans. Of these four people, one was returned to the community. The other three are in detention. One of these people is a member of our organization” .
That early climate of violence, lies and rage awakened even more the participation of the Suc-Tuc assembly. Roadblocks are hardened. The rallies outside the State Congress radicalize their tone. Under the slogan “we are not gang members, we are an indigenous community that demands justice” and “the government represses the people of Suc-Tuc”, more people attended the protests with the spirit of collaborating for the release of the 3 prisoners. Sergio, Diego and José Alfredo are currently in custody in the San Francisco Kobén Prison.
At the dialogue tables after 17 December, the authorities focused -magically!- on the replacement of the commissioner, very little was spoken of the three prisoners. Some of the arguments that the legal authorities use as rhetoric are that “there is no conclusive evidence, which is why they were not transferred to the penitentiary; they are given 3 months of preventive jail remand (…) by the 31st, –of March?! – will be back in their homes”.
In addition, the population learns that Ucán Chan is still sealing and validating documents from her home. Therefore, the message that the State will continue to ignore the petitions of the movement became rather a message of humiliation that found his last second of life. The community closes the curtain saying: “we are not going to continue going to the City to demonstrate, we will organize locally to choose our representatives and change course.”
It is worth not being pernicious, so it is very important to state that it would be too optimistic to give de facto the establishment of self-government, at least not at the moment, a concrete definition of what happens in Suc-Tuc is, as the title of this text, the majority decision of the community to conform and be governed by a communal self-government. The results and experiences will be the determining factors so that in the not so distant future it will be written everywhere that “Suc-Tuc is an autonomous community”.
Thus, we can sketch how the community process was conceived:
The call to elect its authorities by uses and customs was spread by voice to be held on January 9. However, the assembly was dissolved by the provocation of an agent infiltrated the PRI –extreme right wing party-, diverting the objectives that people already had well thought, causing in turn the assembly to be postponed for the next day.
On January 10 at night, Suc-Tuc elected the members of an autonomous Governing Council and three representatives who will serve as treasurer, secretary and a new commissioner, respectively. Almost at the end of this historic moment, Javier Soberanis made an appearance, with complete exasperation, intimidating and trying to revert the agreements reached.
The human rights defenders who make up the organization Caracol ODDH -partners and translators also in other instances of dialogue with the different levels of government-, spread in their social networks that “(…) even though every moment the secretary of the City Council tried to tell the villagers that it was not right to elect by usages and customs, “because in Campeche there is no community that governs this way” and to wait the times and electoral processes of the municipality, the villagers chose their Representatives and signed a memorandum of understanding, thus recognizing the new popular administration.” As a legal weapon -which left Soberanis with no arguments– they gave reading to the Articles 2 and 39 constitutional, current guidelines for popular election at any time.
The vote was an act of direct democracy based on the trustworthiness and mutual aid shown by both settlers and elected representatives. It is a new scheme without the direct/indirect participation of the political parties and that rests in a total horizontality.
On the morning of January 11, the people took the act of the new Governing Council to the head of Hopelchén. The meeting was not pleasant. In an interview with Tribuna Campeche, the villagers denounce that the City Council refused to remove the commissioner, textually, saying that “the most viable thing is that she renounces and makes things easier for the people”. What hope can we have that a person with so much power and a way of life resolved at the expense of the productive work of others renounce such overnight comforts? They were blamed with other words, arguing that “you have to wait until 2018 because you chose the commissioner … it is okay to organize, but your representative can only be civil, not commissary”.
If we analyze these statements we can say that … it’s irrefutable! the State seeks all the pieces of distraction-discursive confrontation to ‘gain time’ and prevent Suc-Tuc’s self-government from being consolidated and start to operate. Similarly, Caracol ODHH reports that “Soberanis did not want to receive the minutes because it was not “sealed” with the ex-commissioner’s seal, despite the fact that the act consists of signatures of the majority of the registered inhabitants of the community”, an excuse difficult to overcome under the scheme of legality, since the commissioner has not come to the public since the conflict that broke out in early December.
The definitive solidarity
To build a communal self-government does not symbolize a temporary exit, it’s a germ that works day by day, it is a political-organizational task that entails too much effort and vulnerability for those who integrate and support it. The State is hostile and will seek all ways to counteract the strength of the people of Suc Tuc, for example, the withdrawal of social programs, the scholarships -ironically, the spearhead of this movement-, police intimidation and even extreme decisions of violent repression as was observed in the early hours of December 17.
Solidarity must be urgent and DEFINING by Mexico and the world, both for the release of the prisoners and for avoiding the dismantling of the process.
That is why we say: texts should not hesitate only in information, give them a practical sense. Let’s replicate what happens in Suc-Tuc by voice, in the streets, on the internet, in all existing corners. Let’s be alert, light and place the reflectors – of which I wrote at the beginning of the article – where they are needed!
DEFINITIVE AND INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY WITH THE COMMUNITY OF SUC-TUC!
IMMEDIATE AND UNCONDITIONAL FREEDOM TO SERGIO, DIEGO AND JOSÉ ALFREDO, PRISONERS FOR FIGHTING FOR TRUTH AND SELF-DETERMINATION!
AUTONOMY IS LIFE, SUBJUGATION IS DEATH!
Critical notes and references:
 “Los mayas de Hopelchén resisten a la muerte de su maíz, sus abejas y su pensamiento” in Red en Defensa del Maíz, Gloria Muñoz Ramírez, March 8, 2014. http://redendefensadelmaiz.net/2015/09/opinion-mayas-de-hopelchen/#&panel1-9
 “Encuentran glifosato en manto freático, agua embotellada y orina de habitantes de Hopelchén”, La Jornada por Lorenzo Chim, August 30, 2016, p. 28. http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2016/08/30/estados/028n1est
 Entrevista a Leonardo Poot Pech, padre de Diego Armando Poot Pech, uno de los detenidos del 17 de diciembre. “Sin justicia e igualdad” en ¡Por esto!, Dignidad, identidad y soberanía, por Adrián Ferráez y Jorge Caamal, December 28, 2016. https://www.poresto.net/ver_nota.php?zona=yucatan&idSeccion=31&idTitulo=528645
 Ka’ Kuxtal Much’ Meyaj A.C “Indigenous organization in the sedes defense” is a originary Holpechén’s group that bet for “build like part of the Mayan people, educative, organizative and productive conditions for the good living of our communities. It has dedicated strongly to the awareness of the importance of facing the monopoly of the transgenic crop, winning legal protection against Monsanto. They have also organized the “Native Seeds Festival” since 2008, replicated in Iturbide, Dzibalchén, Suc-Tuc and other communities in Campeche and Yucatán.
 Ka’ Kuxtal Much’ Meyaj A.C. pronouncement about the repression ocurred in San Francisco Suctuc, December 18, 2016.
Publicación en Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kakuxtalmm/posts/1118146738283452
 Isn’t an assembly that discriminates, all contrary, cordially invites to “partisan brothers” to participate, but leaving aside the flags and the colors. Is logical, the remnants of the later society and its representative democracy are not eradicated from court, but with the majority participation in a new political diagram.
 7 “Que renuncie Comisaria Municipal de Suc-Tuc”, Tribuna Campeche, January 12, 2017. http://tribunacampeche.com/municipios/2017/01/12/renuncie-comisaria-municipal-suc-tuc/
 In interview with Caracol ODHH, they says that “policial presence is intermitent, such, there 1 or 2 patrols that are rounding in a sporadic way in Suc-Tuc”. Other causes that diminish the police presence are the territorial remoteness to the headwaters of Holpechén and Campeche, and the cowardly murder to blows, of Dennis Abraham Canché Trejo, agronomist engineer and neighbor of Bolonchén de Rejón on November 1, 2014, by state police.
Original text in spanish: