Simón Sedillo is an independent journalist and a documentary film maker. Sedillo has contributed to a growing archive of community based investigative research backed up by a wide variety of documentary films and articles. These diverse projects focus primarily on the effects of neoliberalism and militarism on indigenous communities, immigrant communities, and communities of color in the US and Mexico. Sedillo tours universities and community centers throughout the USA screening films and lecturing on political economy and geopolitics in Mexico and the USA.
Workshops and Films
This is a participatory workshop through which we define neoliberalism collectively, then make a list of institutions, industries, other entities, and global political and economic policies that make up the neoliberal military political economy. When we have time we wind down by analyzing how main stream media perpetuates a global neoliberal mindset.
Militarism and Paramilitarism:
Through a participatory discussion we will take a brief look at the history of the U.S Military’s role in an ongoing campaign against indigenous people with a particular focus on the USA and Mexico. We will dig in deeper into an ongoing military strategy to criminalize indigenous land tenure and identity in order to secure political and economic interests in the region as seen in the state of Oaxaca. Finally we will begin a discussion on the phenomenon of Narco-Paramilitarim, as seen in the State of Michoacan.
“Weapons Drugs and Slavery: Crime and Corruption in the US Political Economy”
We will take a collective look into the US political economy, corporate globalization, illegal banking practices, and US militarism. We will have a participatory discussion about crime and corruption in the US political economy and the effects of this on poor people everywhere. This discussion will identify the way in which several institutions and industries perpetrate society’s worst crimes while systematically oppressing and criminalizing communities of color, indigenous communities, and poor people in general. The presentation will also discuss indigenous strategies for community liberation and will propose a three point plan for “Hood Liberation”.
“El Factor Demarest” (The Demarest Factor) 55 min. 2010
This film is part of an ongoing investigation which has exposed US military mapping of communally owned indigenous land in the Southern Sierra of the state of Oaxaca, Mexico. The mapping took place under the auspices of the department of geography from Kansas University in Lawrence, Kansas in collaboration with the Foreign Military Studies Office (FMSO) at Fort Leavenworth, in Leavenworth, Kansas. The FMSO senior analyst Lieutenant Colonel Geoffrey B. Demarest (SOA GRADUATE) declares in several essays and texts that communal ownership of property, leads to crime and insurgency. The film irrefutably exposes an ongoing military strategy to criminalize indigenous land tenure and identity in order to secure political and economic interests in the region.
“Guarda Bosques” (Forest Keepers) 45 min. 2013
On April 15th 2011, when organized crime thugs teamed up with the logging industry and different government agencies to pillage precious and sacred forests at gun-point, the indigenous Purepecha community of Cheran, Michoacan, Mexico rose up with sticks, rocks, and bottle rockets against what can only be described as their local narco-government. Since then, they have taken the authorities offices, weapons, and pick-up trucks, ousted all political parties and all local and state police, and have re-established a traditional form of self-governance that includes its own council of elders, a community “police”, known as a “ronda”, and its own forest defense team, or forest keepers, known as the “Guarda Bosques.”
2012 Film Excerpt
Excerpts of Simon Sedillo discussing the Demarest Factor
on WBAI’s “Indigenous Voices” with Tiokasin Ghosthorse
Letters of Recommendation
To whom it may concern,
The Rebel Diaz Arts Collective wants to express our support and appreciation for the community defense work being done by Simon ‘el pinche simon’ Sedillo.
The Rebel Diaz Arts Collective is an autonomous, multimedia community arts space in the South Bronx, NY that aims to utilize culture, in particular Hip Hop, as a means for self-education, and self-empowerment. We aim to provide an alternative to the profit-driven mass media that imposes values destructive to our community.
Simon has been an active contributor to both the founding of our space and the ongoing political education workshops with young people- in particular young women of color- in our community. His workshops on Hood Liberation have provided our youth with a global perspective on the issues of poverty and institutional racism that plague our local neighborhoods. In turn, he has facilitated our youths’ understanding of methods of resistance and self-determination via culture, community organizing, and self-defense.
Sedillo’s workshops are invaluable not only for our young constituency, but also our collective leadership as we continue in the process of building an autonomous, liberated community space in the South Bronx.
We wholeheartedly support his workshop and research work, and consider it an invaluable asset to our struggle for the liberation of marginalized communities worldwide.
The Rebel Diaz Arts Collective
South Bronx, NY
Simon Sedillo is a superb classroom presenter. As a High School teacher who hosts several speakers a year I can honestly say that Simon is one of our favorites. He explains complex concepts such as neoliberalism, imperialism and capitalism in a way that makes sense to my students. He brings the world he lives in and in which he works right into the classroom and shares his experiences honestly and intelligently. His video work is impeccable and gives us insight into the reality which millions of people face all over the world. His lens is primarily Oaxaca, Mexico.
Simon speaks at a high level of intelligence but is able to include and engage my most struggling students. Through his video, classroom lecture and life stories, he makes the world a bigger place and opens it up to us in about an hour. He is a talented speaker and one I recommend highly. If you have classroom funds to bring ONE speaker to your class this year, host Simon Sedillo. You and your students will gain tremendous knowledge and insight. I have had Simon in the classroom for three years straight and always book him early when I know he is coming to town.
Jenn Laskin, M.S.
Humanities Teacher/ Reading Specialist
Renaissance High School
La Selva Beach, CA
Pajaro Valley Unified School District
It is with great pleasure that I write in support of Simón Sedillo. I have known Simón for about four years. He has spoken and shown films numerous times in my social problems and social movements classes. Simón is a creative and imaginative young film-maker and human rights activist whose films inform audiences about the self-determination struggles of indigenous youth in Oaxaca, Mexico, immigrants in the U.S. and young people of color in North American inner cities. In his movement work Sedillo conducts film-making workshops so that people in communities of struggle can document their own histories and lives and present their struggles from their own perspectives. As products of grassroots collaboration with a skilled film maker the videos convey a sense of authenticity as well as technical quality. The collectively made videos sparkle with drama and insight. They communicate the connections between “Third World” liberation struggles and our own. They speak to our common humanity. Before an audience Sedillo is charismatic and engaging. He is a global citizen and people connect with that. Student feedback from his class presentations is overwhelming positive; remarks such as, the best guest speaker in my four years of college are common. I am happy to recommend Simón.
Sociology, Anthropology, and Social Work
University Of Central Michigan
Simón Sedillo has been active in the campaign to close the School of the Americas (SOA/ WHINSEC) for many years. The School of the Americas (SOA) is a U.S.-Army military training school for Latin American militaries, located in Fort Benning, Georgia. Renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC) in 2001, the school has been producing death squad leaders and human rights abusers since 1946. Dubbed the “School of Assassins,” the SOA/WHINSEC is a school that is synonymous with torture and military repression around the world. Graduates of the school have a long history of participating in and orchestrating killings, rapes and the suppression of popular movements for social change.
Simón Sedillo’s contributions to the movement have been invaluable. Through his work in indigenous communities in Oaxaca, in immigrant communities in the US, and with youth of color across the US, he was able to bring a much-needed perspective to the work of SOA Watch. Simón has been part of the annual November Vigils at the gates of Fort Benning, where he spoke from the stage about the human rights situation in Mexico, screened films about resistance struggles, and gave numerous presentations about Militarization, Paramilitarism and Neoliberalism.
Simón Sedillo has been instrumental in starting much needed discussions and thought-processes among the members of SOA Watch. He has challenged the traditional understanding of Latin America Solidarity work and introduced new ways of thinking about existing power relationships within the solidarity movements. His approach has empowered voices that had been marginalized within SOA Watch and successfully initiated changes in the ways that SOA Watch events are being organized.
Sedillo shared some important experiences and perspective about popular community based resistance and the collective construction of horizontal networks of popular power within the movement through his participation in Presente, the newspaper of the movement to close the SOA (print-run of 80,000 copies per issue). His article “Standing With Those Who Fight for Themselves,” which he wrote for the Summer 2008 issue of Presente has become the second most popular article on the Presente webpage www.SOAW.org/presente
School of the Americas Watch (SOA Watch) greatly appreciates the continued cooperation with Simón Sedillo on projects in the future. His well thought ideas, his approach and his steadfast commitment to movement building, mutual aid and collaboration has been an asset for our organizing. Simón’s work is actively fostering equal exchanges and relationship building between communities that are involved in the same struggle for justice and democracy throughout the Western Hemisphere.
Rev. Roy Bourgeois, MM
Founder, School of the Americas Watch
In Oaxaca, Sedillo has been actively engaged with a variety of popular organizations. His primary activities, to my knowledge, involve teaching media skills in an effort to promote self-determination of communities. I have followed his work over the past years with great interest, and have been very much impressed with his dedication to human rights and justice, his imaginative use of the opportunities provided by a wide range of media, his technical competence, and his ability to engage local communities and organizations and to help them organize and develop and to work independently. In the United States his work has been of very high quality, and quite successful.
Institute Professor, Department of Linguistics and Philosophy
Cambridge MA USA
For years, Simon Sedillo has been an ally and supporter of our organization, The Watsonville Brown Berets. He has presented and informed us on critical issues and perspectives regarding indigenous identity and solidarity, globalization, and neoliberalism. Sedillo utilizes an approach that youth can identify with and understand. His methods are non-authoritarian and non-hierarchical. It is clear that Sedillo’s information sharing is based on the methods used by the community he works in. Young people of all ages of our community have participated in these presentations and continue to ask, “When is Simon coming back?”
Sedillo has motivated several members of our organization to get involved and experience the struggles and cultures of indigenous Mexico. He has become more than a teacher to our organization but a friend and mentor.
Watsonville Brown Berets
This post is also available in: Spanish