November 30th, 2006 – O, J, B, R, E and K write: This is the testimony (via phone) of a teacher from an outlying village on November 21, the day after she participated in a women’s march in Oaxaca City that was was attacked by Mexican Federal Preventative Police (PFP), who have been occupying Oaxaca since October 29. She talks about the attack on the march, repression of and violence against women and children, the failure of organizations such as Amnesty International to help and the importance of international solidarity. (spanish with english translation)
Interview, transcription and translation by members of VAPPOR OAXACA.
In addition, right now in Oaxaca there is a generalized repression, but since last week, another form of repression started, one that is geared towards children and women.
This is something that we can’t control because when we walk by the streets where the men of the PFP, with the excuse of looking for weapons, they search us, meaning to say, they check us down. Touching all of our bodies, both men and female, and if that was not enough, they made fun.
Few have been the women, who have wanted to make a public accusation, but they have spoken to me. As a matter of fact, recordings exist from some of the women who wanted to give their information; most of them didn’t want to do it because after the humiliation, it is very embarrassing to talk about that (harassment they suffered). They don’t care if they are women, boys, girls, and even old people.
They are doing this indiscriminately, when we ask why they do the things they do, they say they are only following orders and that if we do not want to have problems, we should not resist. And after all of this, they make fun of us and make threats. They mostly threaten women. We have recordings where some of the women make declarations; there is even a news report where a declaration of one of the brave women is written.
That is why the day before yesterday, the women decided to mach and protest against the violence towards our gender, and of course against their power and violence.
That is why they have us infiltrated. They are frightening the most vulnerable of our sectors. So then, we organized this last mega march and the only thing we got from it was more attention, we were attacked with tear gas when we were walking in front of the PFP. They attacked with tear gas and pepper spray squirted at our face, and the thing is that this march had women of all ages.
We didn’t respond. We grabbed a hold of ourselves one more time despite the humiliation. And then yesterday, there was a whole sea (of people) in our favor, yet the comrades of the village asked us (women) to lead the march, because they are angry at what they are doing (to us). The attack yesterday was even worse. There were a lot of kids, I am assuming it was because this time the dads came too. Heading the march, were us women and the children, and just as we were passing by the attacks started. There was an incredible amount of tear gas that did not let us breathe or see where we were headed. We had to protect the children with our bodies and hide them under our clothes trying to get them away and we would scream that there were kids and old people there. That they needed to stop the aggression, but they had it all prepared. They were just waiting for us to pass through there, because there were just waiting there. Not only did they have the fences created by the federals, they sent others to the ceilings of the houses…from the roofs of the four corners is where they started shooting the tear gas, there was no sense in running, they were attacking form all four sides until the youth started arriving… (Connection failure)
Something that I would like to point out before we get cut of again, is that they are taking control of the telephone lines too. Every time we are on the phone and we are making statements of what is happening, we get cut off. They are using technology to control us, to intimidate us to threaten us.
So I was saying, that at that moment we felt very desperate, when we saw that the children were suffocating with the tear gas and it was then with the youth from the university arrived and began taking the kids away from the area. They began running to get them away from where we were. We had created a circle to protect the children and the youth came to rescue us and help us to run, because we couldn’t see, we all had tear gas in our eyes. Our eyes were very irritated.
Finally, they began running, they were leading us. Unfortunately, some of the guys, we were able to tell that behind the shadows formed by the tear gas, we were able to see that some of the guys were pulled. That is why we were so anguished, and we wanted to know what had happened to our youth. And we were told that they (PFP) pulled a female too. We understand that they would have had taken more women if these young, brave people would not have been there to rescue us.
for about two or three hours after that, they were shooting tear gas to where we were running. They were shooting from everywhere. I do not know what kind of equipment they use, but they reached us. We tried to pull back to the Santo Domingo. The bombs, tear gas and firecrackers reached all the way until we reached the block before Santo Domingo.
There was a moment in which they started moving their tanks, in order to start shooting pepper spray and they began to advance together (the PFP and the tanks). They were advancing. I could not calculate how many there were, but there were a lot, because a lot of noise could be heard. They banged their shields and they even made noise with their boots.
And well, they had us in that state of terror, and in those moments all we could do was to pull back to the church, and to ask for medical assistance. We hade a few wounded and we had to create an improvised health center. We also insisted that the people we had heard were present, from amnesty international; to show up and testify the state of terror and violence they (PFP) have had Oaxaca in for more than 5 months now. Unfortunately, they told us they could not come, because they had a very busy agenda. At that moment, us that were being repressed were thinking of the ones that had been taken away, and we felt very unprotected.
I world like to say that it saddens me a lot to be in the streets, and to see that I am becoming part of a now normal and typical panorama, that these aggressors, these invaders are here in our streets. This worries me a lot. To see how children, wearing their uniforms, and passing in front of them, and receiving looks of suspicion. And it terrorizes me to think that we could grow accustomed to them and that it will turn into something normal. It is sad to see that the warm, beautiful Oaxaca filled with brave people now is invaded by these people (PFP). And I think to my self: how long will they be here; intimidating us, even though some of them have had faces of fear and curiosity, but they become more aggressive when women and children walk by on their way to school.
Oaxaca is still very traditional. Women are the ones that take the children to school. There are a lot of schools downtown, and we see the women walking their kids to school in anguish. Besides, we are worried for the kids and the contamination the gases left behind. It is going to definitely have an effect on the little ones. They are very sensitive in all aspects. The moral harm that taking them to school under these circumstances, as if nothing was happening, as if everything was normal in a martial law. The women are mostly affected by this, because Oaxaca is small and they (PFP) are everywhere. We can not avoid them. They are not only in downtown they are in the city too. They are in the outskirts too, it is impossible to avoid them.
And I see them with that agony, thinking that something might happen to them. And I gather up my faith. I have a lot of faith that, in the same way that there are people that have been bought, that have sold their honor and principles, and that have infiltrated us; there are people in all corners of the world, a lot of noble people. Because being noble is something that does not see races, it is international. I know that in one of those places, I don’t know what the name is, I wanted to believe that it was going to be the red cross, but I don’t have a name, or a face or the knowledge of if it is a female or a male, but that doesn’t matter, I know that somewhere in this world there are many hearts that will hear and understand our call, and I can assure you that we feel those invisible hands, that even though we do not see, we know they are fighting for our dignity.
I want to recognize that along with all of the repression we have received for a month now, there have been many voices around the worlds that like I said before, we can not see their faces, but we can feel their support and I wish that the support grows and that unifies, because we are here with open arms and with our hearts in our hands waiting for you to not abandon us.
Especially the women: don’t leave us alone. We are not afraid, we are filled with indignation, rage for what they are doing. Keep on answering our calls. Finally, I don’t have a name for it, but I think it is very important what we are doing. I have a lot of confidence in the help of the international community, and of course of our people. We are going to accomplish it. This century will change all the things that need to change.
I thank you in the name of Oaxaca. All that have had the sensitivity to listen and support us, I tell you that we will remain here in the struggle waiting for signs from the world letting us know we are not alone.
This post is also available in: Spanish