Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

September 23, 2021

Zapatistas Support Resistance to Mega Highway in Austria

Zapatistas find and exchange with resistance to a mega highway project in Austria

Posted by: BERNARDO September 21, 2021 in Affected Environmental , Covergencia Free Media , International 

Vienna, September 21, 2021.

On the morning of Saturday, September 18, a Zapatista delegation had for the first time a public meeting with a resistance that, below and to the left, is facing the bad government in this Unruly Lands. It happened in a camp in Lobau, on the outskirts of Vienna, with an impressive infrastructure - with a kitchen, dining rooms, information points and some thirty tents - set up to protect a unique ecosystem in what is one of the great centers of the capitalist hydra that, in its desire for unbridled and infinite growth, swallows mountains, plains, rivers and swamps to replace them with metropolises, cement deserts, agro-industries, mines and a myriad of mega-projects that sow death where there was life before.

Around 60 Zapatistas, men and women, met with young people and environmentalists who, with the broad support of the local population, have resisted since August the Austrian government's plans to build a highway in the middle of the largest natural reserve near the capital. , a protected area since 1978 and part of the Danube-Auen National Park since 1996.

In a first exchange, the participants in the camp tell the Zapatistas the history of the place, the megaproject and why they defend this unique landscape that remains ecologically intact not only in the city, but throughout Central Europe. The area is home to 800 species of plants, as well as 100 species of breeding birds, more than fifty species of mammals, reptiles and amphibians and 67 species of fish.

Between speeches and questions, resistance strategies to defend the territory are discussed: pacifism, civil disobedience, occupation and violence are discussed. Local activists explain that the entire movement in Lobau is peaceful, and that this is a fundamental condition for maintaining the broad support of the neighborhood. Although most of the young people spend the night in the camp, the neighbors have collaborated and helped, for example by letting the young campers bathe in their homes.

An agreement was even reached with the police so that, if the protest is not violent, they will notify the occupants one day in advance in the event of an eviction order.

If this is strange for those who come from a geography of southern Europe and live daily with images of police repressing and violently beating the defenseless population, we cannot imagine how strange it will be for those who come from Mexico, where violence is on the horizon. order of the day and the police is one more force of repression and gratuitous violence.

"What if you don't go?" The Zapatistas ask.

They explain that, faced with an eviction order, if they do not agree to leave on their own, they are detained for 24 hours and released again, without charge. In other words, "nothing happens and we go back to camp."

"It's as if I told you 'I'm going to break your mother', and you answer 'no, don't do it', and then I don't do it anymore," said Sub Moisés, surprised, asking them later if this type of action really has results. . The truth is that, since the occupation in Lobau began, the construction of the highway and its access roads have come to a standstill.


After a good hour in which both movements got to know each other and exchanged ideas and impressions about the resistance, the rest of the camp was introduced to them. From there they go to a second busy place, about a 15-minute walk away: the site where all the machinery is. There, the Zapatistas and the others present divided into two groups and were shown the two camps, smaller than the main one, that had been installed in the place.

It was in one of these camps that they all gathered in front of a tower built by the protesters to record a video in support of the resistance in Lobau.

Until suddenly it started to rain heavily and dozens of people had to take refuge under a long tarp, which did not prevent most of those present from getting soaked.

At that moment, most of the Zapatista comrades decided to return to their lodgings. A group of Zapatista women housed in the Frauenzentrum (Women's Center) decided to stay in Lobau while they waited for the food to which they had been invited.

During this time of waiting there was another moment of discussion and exchange, this time more informal, in which the comrades shared the history of the Zapatista movement since 1986, the preparation of the 1994 uprising, and the role of health and education promoters. , with special emphasis on the participation of women throughout the process. Alcohol consumption in the communities, which is a problem in the Zapatista movement, was also addressed.

A comrade present told us that “the Zapatistas come to give hope, they inspire us with everything they have already managed to build in Chiapas. They are a true mobile library. By way of conclusion, the Zapatistas stressed that they are currently a peaceful movement and that they are reluctant to take up arms despite provocations.

The Lobau area, in the Danube-Auen National Park, is what remains of a huge wetland ecosystem that stretched along the banks of the Danube, destroyed in the process of earthworks for the expansion and industrialization of the Austrian capital in the late 19th century. It was then in this very special place that the encounters between the Zapatistas and the movements and resistances of Insubordinate Europe began, the main objective of this first chapter of the Journey through Life. It was also in this National Park where, in 1984, one of the greatest resistance processes in the recent history of Austria took place.

The project to build a hydroelectric power station at the eastern end of the park sparked a wave of protests that culminated, in December of that year, with the occupation of the place that the machines were preparing to destroy. On December 8, 8,000 people demonstrated at the site and a few hundred began a permanent occupation of the space, forcing the work to be suspended. On December 19, a contingent of 800 police officers began a violent intervention to expel the approximately 3,000 protesters who remained at the scene. The clashes left dozens of people injured and sparked a wave of outrage in Vienna, where 40,000 people demonstrated that same night. Fearing a revolt, the government announced a couple of days later the suspension of the works, and at the beginning of January the Supreme Court announced the prohibition of any work in the area. The occupation ended and months later the project was definitively abandoned.

This historic struggle is remembered as one of the most important moments in Austria's democratic process, and the first time that civil disobedience was widely accepted as a strategy to assert the will of the people against the intentions of the bad government. Since that year, practically every mega-project in Austria has faced some kind of popular movement. In 1996 the construction of a hydroelectric power station in Lambach was delayed by an occupation, and in 2003 a similar project for the Lobau area was also halted after a symbolic occupation of the site.

Audios (excerpts):
1. Compañera talks about the construction of autonomy

2. Compañeras explain the participation of women in Zapatismo

3. Subcomandante Moisés explains why the Journey through Life

4. Emilia, from Fridays for Future, explains the struggle


Instagram: Fridays For Future Vienna XRWien Lobau Bleibt Lobauesetzen Rettet Die Lobau

Note and images from Free Media in Vienna, originally published in Portuguese at

Video source: @_lukasdbeck Lukas David Beck:

#LaGiraZapatistaVa # TravesíaPorLaVida #EZLN #FAZ # LaExtemporánea #OurLuchaEsPorLaVida #EuropaZapatista #SlumilKajxemkop #EZLNenViena #EZLNinWien #LobauBleibt

No comments: