Arriving in Oaxaca

December 24th, 2006 – lotu5 writes: This is the first of a number of blog entries I’ll be writing about my trip to Oaxaca and Chiapas, along with a group of people.

We stayed up until 3am the night before packing, burning dvds, running errands, picking up things to bring. We got up at 6 to get across the border and take the flight from Tijuana to D.F. Got on the plane fine, got to D.F. fine. Took two different metro lines and walked many blocks to get the the CML. Everyone at the CML was very friendly and the folks from Radio Planton, who had just come up from Oaxaca, said that things were calmed down and that we should consider going…

j´s entry: Zocalo

every entrance to the zocalo in oaxaca city is barricaded by the police equipped in riot gear. colonial walls and arches are painted in a patch work to cover all the graffiti from the APPO occupation. i can almost hear their words for justice echoing but it is not true all that echos is an orchestra playing european christmas music.

thousands of pointsetias are planted in the ground for capitol comfort.
it reminds me of the blood that shed on this ground.
90 died to assure THIS ‘order’.
all i see are wealthy people at bourgie cafes.

buses and trucks full of police drive through the streets…

Pues por fin aquí estamos en Oaxaca. Después de meses de planificación y semanas de preocupación con todos los reportes que hemos escuchado, toda la delegación ya esta sentada en un internet café en la ciudad de Oaxaca, seguros y sanos. Estamos unas cuadras de una barricada de la PFP. Lo pasamos con un representante de la Seccion 22 del sindicato de maestros y no había ninguna molestia. Las huellas de las acciones de las semanas anteriores todavía existen. Hay pinta por todos lados cubriendo la grafiti de resistencia de antes. Todavía quedan algunos carteles y mensajes. Ya con el acuerdo de desmovilización con el gobierno, la gente habla abierta del APPO y de la lucha, pero esta vez con más “inteligencia”. Pero a la misma vez, nadie tiene pensado que van a reocupar al zócalo tampoco. Hace dos días hizo la gente del APPO una marcha pacifica de 10.000 personas demandando la libertad de los presos políticos que quedan encarcelados de los estados norteños de Mexico. No había ninguna confrontación con la policía…

lotu5´s entry continues:

We continued to debate whether or not we should go over tortas and chelas, and only decided late in the night. We made arrangements to give our main solidarity donations to folks in D.F. from the groups we wanted to donate to, in case our bus got stopped on the way. The final decision came from talking to a woman from COMPA who was in Oaxaca at the time we spoke to her and said we should go, even though a few minutes before another woman at the CML who had been there 2 weeks ago said it was too dangerous and she didn’t recommend it. We want to be respectful and effective and help the movement, not be a burden or act for our own egos. We decide we should go so that we can take some monetary donations and hand deliver them as well as to get more information out about what is going on in Oaxaca.

Finally we decide to go and get up at 9 to catch a bus to Oaxaca. We talk about how to be safe and secure a lot as we walk and move from station to station. We have to go second class, even though we’re likely to get stopped at a checkpoint, but all the first class buses are sold out. At one point the bus stops on the highway and pulls over. A man boards the bus and we look at each other tensely, is this the time when we’ll be searched and questions about the money and radical propaganda we’re carrying? After a few minutes the bus pulls away, apparently his looking around the bus was enough.

Finally, after a 9 hour bus ride, we arrive in Oaxaca City. Our phone card from D.F. doesn’t work here, so we walk and buy a new one. We walk to a payphone on a dark corner with lots of cars driving by. We see a few big trucks, garbage truck sized but with open backs, full of police driving by. We see the fireworks from the official Noche de los Rabanos celebration and realize that we missed the alternative noche celebration.

Finally, after about 20 tense minutes of trying to call our contacts, we get through to one of the section 22 teachers who says he can pick us up and we tell him where we are. He shows up in about 10 minutes because he had been waiting for us for hours at the other bus stop.

He drives us to his home, showing us where on the main highway the barricades had been. The hospitality he and his family show us are amazing. After a short talk with his mother and lots of introductions, we have the traditional shots of mezcal and then they make us a big nighttime snack with tortillas, cheese, coffee, tea, bread, salsa, its wonderful after not eating all day.

They tell us we are safe here, far from the city. The teacher’s mother tells us ‘the government says they want to end poverty, but their way of ending it is to kill all the poor. we struggle. they kill us. but we have to keep struggling.’

After our first good night’s rest we are treated to another amazing meal and then visit the church. The teacher introduces us to a man from the church who begins to tell us of their struggle. He says that even though the government says there have been 14 people murdered by the government, the community says there are more like 90 people murdered. He also speaks of Brad Will and the accusations that the people of the community did it, which he emphatically says is a lie and says that its clear on Brad’s video that the government agents killed him. I’m so surprised to hear this detailed account from the man in the local church that I didn’t even videotape it. He says that all the people in the community are good, but that some are corrupt and are paid off to do bad things.

In Oaxaca City, we go to the Zocalo. All the walls and columns have graffiti that is barely covered or washed off. The city has the same feel. There are tourists and people shopping and eating, surrounded by police with riot shields, machine guns and huge batons. Every street entrance to the Zocalo has a police barricade blocking it. The police march through the Zocalo with their shields and mill about in twos.

I’ll write more about the city later, as this internet cafe is expensive… We will also be posting photos soon as well.