Puente Madera: radiating rebelliousness and new worlds

Raúl Zibechi

The second day of the caravan El Sur Resiste was much more than a ploughing of the road. In the ejido (communal) Puente Madera, the main resistances of Oaxaca came together, from those seeking to block mining to those denouncing wind farms, including the advance of monocultures and mega-enterprises that want to turn the Isthmus of Tehuantepec into a centre of capital accumulation, large-scale business and commodity flows pivoting on Asia.

The day began with a walk to El Pitayal, communal lands where the communities are supplied with timber, but where rabbits and other animals that are often hunted abound. This space is now coveted by the authorities who are pushing for a 360 hectare industrial estate to be built on the communal lands.

The huge march held a ceremony for Mother Earth in which trees were planted in a land that has been punished by drought or, as the communities say, by the multiple looting they suffer.

Upon returning from El Pitayal, international delegations sympathetic to Zapatismo (many received the Tour for Life in 2021) and community members attended the Political-Cultural Forum of Rebellions and Resistance, which consisted of three panels with equal participation of men and women, youth and adults, coordinated by people of diverse backgrounds from the Oaxatrans collective.

A heartfelt tribute to Marcelina Nolasco, deceased by Covid in January 2021, moved those who were her companions who highlighted the impulse she gave to education and her political proposal that they synthesised in a phrase that became common sense: «To defend the territory is also to set up one’s own projects». A slogan that overflew and gave content to the Forum, in the sense of complementing resistance with the creation of other worlds.

Members of the Asociación de Pueblos Indígenas del Istmo por la Defensa de la Tierra y el Territorio (APDIITT) took the floor, among them Santiago Alegría, who was forceful in criticising «the traitors who speak from behind, while we speak from the front». Regarding the 4T, he said that «this is one of the worst governments in the history of Mexico because even with Peña Nieto’s officials we were able to dialogue», in reference to the dismissive treatment they now receive.

Bettina Cruz’s detailed intervention reviewed the main projects of the trans-isthmus corridor, with a special focus on the 29 wind farms containing three thousand wind turbines that, at first glance, are imposed with the same forcefulness of monocultures. «They pay just 1% of the profits to the landowner, so only those who own more than 15 hectares have a significant annual income.

Cruz addressed the environmental damage that often goes unnoticed:

«The land dries up, the big trees disappear, and so do the bats, which are great pollinators. The generators spill oil that pollutes, but the worst thing is the loss of control of territory by the peasants, since the companies have to show a credential to gain access to their plots of land.

Contrary to official propaganda, poverty is growing in the isthmus, as is the control of organised crime. «They lied when they said that wind farms are to combat global warming, not just business,» said Cruz. He concluded by saying that «it is the land and the forest that give us life».

Community members from La Ventosa who rose up with stones and sticks against a Canadian mining company that was taking «their» hill from them spoke. Felipe Jiménez referred to the problems generated by mining in the east of the state: «It is always the south that resists; the south of our towns; the south of our states; the south of our continent».

Photo: Noticias de Abajo

He then explained that the inter-oceanic canal project is more than a hundred years old, with other names but always with extractivist objectives. He spoke of how the mapping of wind farms began in 2004 and that agribusiness has covered the land with mango and maguey monocultures.

«Our villages are contaminated, politically fractioned to the point that the assemblies are broken. These assemblies are central to our ways of life,» he explained, referring to how the federal and state governments are determined to do away with the organisations. Many concessions, he said, are hidden or disguised. His intervention was complemented by David Hernández, who assured that «the 4T is coming to dispossess us of the communities’ lands, but we are not afraid».

The Corridor is an integral project, not only to speed up the flow of goods between the two oceans, but it also has a powerful energy and technological dimension. «If the isthmus falls, other territories will fall behind us,» concluded the ejidal authority.

In the following panels, there were denunciations of repression in Oaxaca, and in the section on alternatives, young people presented educational projects, focusing on community education, agro-ecology and composting, and community chicken coops.

The participation of Father Francisco Vanderhoff, 84, who has been working with Zapotec and Mixe communities for 40 years, contributed his vision of cooperation between 46 communities and the 1,500 members of the organisation that produces and markets organic coffee. «You can’t change the system all at once,» he said. «Protesting without alternatives doesn’t go very far. And he said goodbye, encouraging resistance to the Corridor and the projects built by the people «from below».

The closing was special. The eight women who were in charge of the kitchen came to the front and bid farewell to the visitors amidst prolonged applause in a climate of deep emotion. Women from below, simple women are the ones who sustain resistance and nourish rebellions. Everywhere.


(communiqué by Guidxi Rucaalú, Community Assembly of Puente Madera and APIIDTT)

Today, on WORLD MOTHER EARTH DAY and 3 days before the start of the «Caravan and International Meeting, The South Resists 2023», which will begin its journey on Tuesday 25 April in the community of Pijijiapan – Tonalá, Chiapas. Over the course of 10 days, it will travel through various communities that are currently facing the onslaught of large-scale projects: Interoceanic Corridor of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec & Mayan Train; as well as one of its «informal» allies, organised crime.

The intention is to articulate our resistance so that together we can confront the intentions of Capital and the State to generate a landscape in accordance with the logic of endless accumulation, at the cost of the commodification and extermination of our territories and of us as the indigenous peoples that we are.

In light of this, we call on the community members, citizens, artisans, fishermen, peasants, workers, professionals, students, cultural promoters, women, men and dissidents of the region of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, to accompany us to the reception and the activities planned for the arrival of «The South Resists 2023 Caravan», which will arrive in the Indigenous Community of Binniza de Puente Madera, San Blas Atempa, on Wednesday 26 April 2023.

We will share reflections on the consequences of industrialisation, dispossession, plunder and accumulation of capital by companies, the government and organised crime at the cost of the ecological, social, political and economic bleeding of the peoples and territories where they are being imposed.

We will share the experiences that continue to germinate, grow and flourish, given the need to create awareness about the territory through solidarity economy, fair trade, agroecology, community education, traditional medicine, work with children and youth, let’s recognise our triumphs, efforts, alternatives and autonomies.

We are grateful for all the support provided by:

FRONT OF OAXACAN ORGANISATIONS – FORUM: Comite por la Defensa de los Derechos Indígenas-CODEDI, Union Campesina Indígena de Oaxaca, Emiliano Zapata-UCIO-EZ, Frente Indígena Zapoteco-FIZ, Organizaciones Indias por los Derechos Humanos en Oaxaca-OIDHO, Comité de Defensa de los Derechos de los Pueblos de Oaxaca-CODEPO, Comité de Defensa Ciudadana-CODECI, Movimiento Agrario Indígena Zapatista-MAIZ, Union Nacional de Trabajadores Agrícolas-UNTA, Corriente del Pueblo-SOL ROJO, Consejo para el Desarrollo Social de Santiago Amoltepec-CODESA, Consejo de Comunidades Indígenas de la Sierra Sur-COCISS, Colectivo por la memoria, la esperanza y la lucha-SALVADOR OLMOS GARCÍA, EDUCA OAXACA, OAXATRANS, MAZATECAS por la Libertad, Colectivo Liberación Ixtepecana, Prepa por Cooperar José Martí, UACO – Ixhuatán, BAI de San Mateo del Mar, UCIRI, Organización Comunitaria MonapaKuy, Guardianes del Mar, Una Mano para Oaxaca, CICC, Futuros Indígenas, Laboratorio Popular de Medios Libres, Red Universitaria Anticapitalista,  to the anarchist and solidarity individuals, who have supported us in this reception. THANK YOU.

We send a special greeting to compa @Marco Avv , for his upcoming personal and academic triumph, we thank him for his commitment to always be at the service of our community and organisation.


Down with all train stations. Stop the extermination or they will kill us too.

  • Guidxi Rucaalú
  • Community Assembly of Puente Madera
  • Assembly of Indigenous Peoples of the Isthmus in Defence of Land and Territory – APIIDTT


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