By Scott Campbell
On Sunday, May 8, several hundred demonstrators took to the streets in the city of Oaxaca to voice their opposition to Mexican President Felipe Calderón’s so-called “war against organized crime,” which after more than four years of brutal violence unleashed by the army, police and drug cartels (often overlapping professions) has left nearly 40,000 people dead. The march in Oaxaca coincided with the National March for Peace with Justice and Dignity, which left from Cuernavaca, Morelos on May 5 and ended with a rally in the zócalo of Mexico City this evening. Over the course of the weekend, marches occurred in all thirty one states and the Federal District of Mexico, as well as in dozens of cities worldwide.
Responding to the call initiated by poet and journalist Javier Sicilia, whose son was one of seven individuals found murdered on the outskirts of Cuernavaca on March 28, the Metropolitan Coordinating Committee Against Militarization and Violence (COMECOM), the displaced women and children from the Autonomous Municipality of San Juan Copala, Oaxacan Voices Constructing Autonomy and Freedom (VOCAL), the Socialist Workers Party (POS) and Section 22 of the National Teachers’ Union (SNTE), organized the march in Oaxaca. After lighting candles in front of the military barracks in Ixcotel, demonstrators made their way to the zócalo of Oaxaca, carrying signs and banners denouncing the violence, impunity and corruption of Calderón’s war, carrying posters with the names of victims of state violence in Oaxaca, and condemning the impunity and repression which continues against the social movement in the state.
Along the march route and at a rally in the zócalo, speakers from various organizations called on the army to return to their barracks, linked the violence and impunity of the drug war with the state repression of social movements, and decried the massive amount of funding the armed forces receive while millions of Mexicans lack jobs and access to basic services. Also noted was Calderón’s subservience to the United States, transnational corporations and their neoliberal agenda, as well as the dangers an army deployed against its own citizenry by an illegitimate president posed to whatever modicum of democracy may exist in Mexico. Following the speakers, hip hop artists Giss and Mare performed, concluding the day’s events.