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San Salvador Atenco is a rural town 100km from Mexico City. Since 2003 settlers have put up with the construction of an international airport that threatens to destroy the land where they live and work. The airport was thrust upon the people by the previous Federal government and was cancelled because the government had to recognize the rights of the settlers. The fight for the defense of the land and its inhabitants has been an example for those fighting for territory all over the world. Thus, the machete has become a symbol of the farmer’s movement.
In 2006 the people of Atenco were assaulted when the settlers drove the Zapatistas all around the country. On May 3rd, the government ambushed a demonstration and evicted a group of flower vendors and jailed dozens of others. This was especially disturbing to residence since say they had obtained permission to sell their flowers just two days before the incident.
In the evening, there was a confrontation between residents and the police officers who had beaten and arrested protesters earlier in the day. As the confrontation escalated the residents of Atenco forced the police from their town as a sign of their displeasure with the situation.
The next day the police reentered the city with federal reinforcements to stop the demonstrators and residents of San Salvador Atenco. Using excess force, the police attacked women sexually, and for the 23 people that remain prisoners, the penal process has been long and full of irregularities.
Several prisoners have been released, but the process continues from others. Those who are still imprisoned have been victimized in the prison system, suffering the full force of the penal system. Two of them, Ignacio of Valle and Felipe Alvarez have been given 64 years in prison and still face more charges.
Now that the demonstrations have subsided, the government has once again begun threatening to build an international airport.