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Strength in Resistance: In Memory of Mariano Abarca

Blog posts are the work of individual contributors, reflecting their thoughts, opinions and research.
Mariano Abarca's tomb in Chicomuselo, Chiapas. PHOTO: Jon Treat, SURCO.
Mariano Abarca's tomb in Chicomuselo, Chiapas. PHOTO: Jon Treat, SURCO.
Myrna Montejo Abarca. PHOTO: Jon Treat, SURCO.
Myrna Montejo Abarca. PHOTO: Jon Treat, SURCO.
José Luis Abarca. PHOTO: Jon Treat, SURCO.
José Luis Abarca. PHOTO: Jon Treat, SURCO.

Night falls. Today was an important day. 

Actions took place across Canada, in the U.S. and in Trinidad in solidarity and support of the Unist'ot'en and Wet'suwet'en people who issued a no tresspass feather last week, evicting contractors for Pacific Trails Pipelines off of their lands, lands which were never ceded or given away or sold through treaty or otherwise. This struggle, against natural gas pipelines, against all pipelines and toxic industry, comes from the grassroots, not from NGOs or anywhere else. Today, the power to mobilize across the country, at a community level in support of community struggles, was manifest. 

Today also marked the three year anniversary of the murder of Mariano Abarca Roblero in Chicomuselo, Chiapas.

Mariano was killed for his principled, peaceful opposition to Calgary-based Blackfire Exploration. The man spent days and weeks on end holding down a blockade against the company, preventing their trucks from travelling through the urban centre. Sometimes, he would sit out there alone, blocking the road. Many times, he didn't find the support he sought from his neighbours. But Mariano stayed out there, stayed active, even after he was beaten, even after he was threatened with death, even after he was imprisoned on trumped up charges, he refused to bend, choosing to stay in jail rather than accept conditions that would prevent him from carrying on.

"The only thing that was left for them to do to my father was kill him," said José Luis Abarca, Mariano's second son, as he stood over his father's grave last week. The family's sense of loss is tangible. Like every other "anti-mining" activist I've met, Mariano was so much more. He was a community organizer, a father of four, a husband and son, someone who helped folks out in their time of need. He ran a restaurant, organized an annual running race, and loved his pueblo

"They took my husband away from me, and my life changed forever," Myrna Montejo Abarca, Mariano's widow, told a delegation from Canada and the US gathered under a large Totopoze tree in her backyard. The family is still seeking justice for Mariano's murder, and while things have calmed down and they are no longer under 24 hour police surveillance, life is not easy. "I am so proud of him, because he fought the government and the company, and he was a good father for my children," said Myrna.

After Mariano was murdered, José Luis was on the run, evading attempts by the state to capture him and imprison him. He visited Canada to speak out about his father's assassination. Today, José Luis is taking up his father's role. A month ago, he started a new organization, the Mariano Abarca Environmental Foundation, which exists to protect the trees and rivers of Chicomuselo but also, according to José Luis, help out folks in need with legal and economic support. 

They killed Mariano, but his spirit is alive.

"We're very happy about my father's accomplishments," said Mariano's eldest son, also named Mariano, as he held his baby son, born without a paternal grandfather. "He was really involved in other activities, we feel happy and so proud of him because he taught us and allowed us to study."

The Abarca family continues to grow. A another new baby was born just a few weeks ago. 

On the mining front, things are quiet. Blackfire's mine was closed shortly after Abarca's murder and hasn't been reopened, though I was told rumors of an eventual re-opening swirl around from time to time. The intellectual authors of his assassination continue to enjoy total impunity, flying desks in Calgary and northern Mexico. José Luis made clear if the company tries to come back, they will again face resistance.

Today was an important day. A day to remember and resist. And tomorrow is another day.

Images by Jonathon Treat, SURCO.


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A very important element,

A very important element, resistance, discussed and told in a very good style, it was a really sad incident and we all should take lessons and should stand against the wrong...

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