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The Movement of the 400 Pueblos of Veracruz

When Your Body Is Your Only Weapon
  • Also available as: Perfect Bound Softcover
  • Published: March 2009
  • Format: Casebound Hardcover(Color)
  • Pages: 88
  • Size: 8.5x11
  • ISBN: 9781441503664
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Just how far would you go to seek justice? Would you be willing to defy authority and social convention in the most provocative way possible? What might you possibly bring yourself to do once, briefly, and what forever remains off limits as unthinkable? Could you push yourself a little bit farther if you had lost everything and had nothing more to lose?

Before answering, consider the case of the Movement of 400 Pueblos of Veracruz. To protest the 1992 seizure of their land and seek its return, they demonstrated naked daily in Mexico City, often three times a day, for six and a half years starting in the spring of 2002. Using their only weapon—their naked bodies—these poor, mostly indigenous peasants (campesinos) from the State of Veracruz finally prevailed in recovering their land late in 2008.

Documented in this book is a unique eyewitness account of the climatic events of the seventh and final year of protests. It is an amazing true tale of unbelievable courage and fortitude in the face of seemingly impossible odds. No whining, no complaining, no blaming; just extreme direct action to right the wrong done against them while maintaining their pride and dignity.

Where others would not even try, they refused to back down in the face of a long series of intransigent government officials. Undaunted by cold rain and the curious stares of strangers, they conducted the most extreme and relentless daily mass naked protest in history—year after year—until they achieved their goal. Showing that they have nothing more to lose and nothing to hide, they danced naked in the streets to shame the government into hearing their claim. Written with the cooperation of members of the Movement, it is a sympathetic tribute to brave people, featuring never-to-be-seen-again scenes of raw defiance and boldness.

While the book is primarily pictorial, a historical background to the land dispute is provided, including the events concurrent with the 2008 demonstrations, up to the death of the government’s chief negotiator and the subsequent final resolution. To illustrate their harsh life, the demonstrators’ encampment, since removed, is portrayed. Emphasis, however, is placed on documenting the two series of persistent demonstrations conducted in 2008, as witnessed and photographed by the author. First are the boisterous mass protests held for hours at a time, at peak traffic, on the widest street in Mexico City, Paseo de la Reforma. This is followed by the completely uninhibited demonstrations on Avenida Insurgentes Centro that daily filled the block-long “stage” in front of the Monument to the Mother with hundreds of defiant naked dancing protestors.

ForeWord Clarion Review:

Four Stars (out of Five)

Publc demonstrations are commonplace in the Mexico City, but nude and scantily clad protesters wearing politician’s faces emblazoned across loincloths are startling anywhere on earth, especially in a nation where modesty and Catholic mores are the norm. This sensitive and interesting photo essay on the 400 Pueblos members explains how a bunch of poor farmers ended up dancing and passing out literature to passersby while naked or nearly so.

In 1992, the residents of several villages in the state of Veracruz who had farmed public lands for a decade were abruptly ordered to move by the local authorities. Twice a year for the next ten years, the farm families, organized as the 400 Pueblos Movement, traveled to the Mexican capital and lived in tent villages between daily protests on the elegant, shop-lined Paseo de la Reforma. In 2002, the same Veracruz Governor who had ordered the removal of the pueblos from their lands was elected to the Federal Senate. To increase the pressure on the central government, the protesters decided to use their only remaining resource, their own bodies, to get attention for their cause. Unti

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