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actions & protests

to the zocalo!!!!(oaxaca)

APPO to take power in oax

So I think I ought to try and explain the (sur)reality of the zocalo a
little bit. During the days it is a bustling market and cultural
place. despite the tarps, tents, and giant banners, (many of them
sporting hammers and sickles, faces of the marx brothers, haha, etc..)
folks here have, in true mexican fashion, decided to make the best of
it and continue with business as usual. behind one camp is a broken
window and a spraypainted wall, "hotelero traidor al pueblo y
magisterial," (hotel owner is traitorous against the people and the
teachers,) inside the window is a travel agency connected to the
hotel, with three women working hard at their desks to book flights
for the bewildered tourists who manage to make it inside. crammed in
on th esidewalks as well are the vendors, selling everything from
handmade crafts and tlayudas to big plastic balloons and hot dogs.
Those with the capitalist spirit going strong have cd burners set up
and are hocking videos of the police assault and marches.

At night it is a different world, slowly but steadily the night guards
from the zocalo make it to their barricades, armed with sticks and
clubs, to watch for the impending next police attack. Most of the
barricades are constructed from sheet metal roofing and planks, though
some are just piles of rocks. The guards talk politics and joke to
pass the time, sometimes arguing over theory, sometimes swapping
stories, ("when I was in Cuba...") some wearing huaraches on their
feet and bandanas to cover their faces, others in blue jeans and
baseball caps. They come from the teachers union, and from the social
groups that form the Asemblea Popular del Pueblo de Oaxaca, and they
are their to defend the planton, which is a liberated space, the
teachers, which were the impetus for this resistance, and their radio
station, which has been rebuilt from CIPO-RFM equipment after the
police destroyed it in the last assault. The zocalo is relatively
quiet, save for a few wandering guards and the street sweepers, the
only state workers that seem to be coming back to the zocalo.

The elections were yesterday, and at least so far it looks like PRD's
Lopez Obrador, the third party candidate, won by a decent margin. I
havenīt been paying much attention to the electoral race because I
believe that it is impossible for any political party to fulfill the
needs of the people, and the work here has been taking up much of my
attention. Last night around 11 a caravan of PRDistas arrived at the
perimeter of the zocalo with band in tow, to try and have their
victory party there, honking and waving at the guards at the
barricades as if they had come to liberate them. After a few awkward
moments, when they realized they were not going to be let in, they
decided to have their victory party in the street outside. APPO is
serious about making some real changes and replacing the entire PRI
government in Oaxaca with an authority which, while it has not been
decided on what type, it has been agreed that they all must go. When
one of the PRDistas asked a guard how he saw the situation, his only
response was "difficult."

I have put my other work here on hold as the planton and developments
have called for more attention, and the office has been busy, folks
have been coming in from the surrounding communities to reinforce the
planton, and their's lots to do. This weekend most of the maestros
left to go home and vote, as wellas to communicate with folks in their
communities. APPO is also doing community outreach, trying to build
broader support and awareness in the Oaxacan countryside, where the
majority of it's population lives. This is a tremendous job, as they
can't rely on traditional media forms, and many communities have only
one phone or none at all and poor road access to boot. Folks have
been coming from other states to help out, and reporters are beginning
to catch wind of this. I had my face covered yesterday morning while
we were delivering breakfast and supplies to the CIPO encampamento in
the planton, and some german photographer started snapping photos of
me. I'm not sure where this will go in the end. Folks here expect
increased government repression now that the elections are done with,
but APPO and the social movement behind it seem like they have enough
momentum that the government would have a hard time derailing it, that
a heavier assault, ( and one is expected,) would only add to the fuel
of the movement. The only way I see this thing stopping is if it is
crippled by internal rivalry, which, while there, does not seem to be
a danger at this point.