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(en) Mexico, Oaxaca, Reportback from anarchist members of POG

Date Sun, 22 Oct 2006 22:24:29 +0200


For info on ways to help please contact POG@mutualaid.org
This report back is not meant to be an all-inclusive account of what's
happened in Oaxaca since we've arrived. Our intent is to describe our
experiences, what we've seen, and our perceptions of events. We also hope
to try and dispel some of the myths the corporate media is feeding us all.
From all that's happening in Oaxaca – the occupation and encampment of the
Zócalo (the center of the city) and the more than 2,000 barricades
throughout Oaxaca, the fierce and unapologetic repression in the form of
murders of those struggling for a better way, harassment and siege by
paramilitaries of Popular Assembly of the People of Oaxaca (APPO) occupied
television and radio stations, constant threat of massacre of a people that
have become a genuine threat to the state, and severe disinformation in the
mainstream media – one might expect an atmosphere of constant tension and
apprehension. While there does seem to be an air of uncertainty (that
extends well beyond our own trouble with understanding Spanish), in general
it feels more festive than anything. Spirits are high, in the Zócalo and at
the barricades.

We arrived in Oaxaca on Wednesday October 18 at about 5am. We spent our
first day walking around the city and went through the Zócalo. The Zócalo is
where many of the encampments are. There is a tent for each group that is a
part of APPO, and full of posters against Ruiz, for APPO. We read the
graffiti (the city is covered) and checked out some of the barricades.
Graffiti ranged from “APPO”, “APPO” with a circle A, to “Fuera URO” or
“Fuera Ulises”, to “Tourists go home, here the people rule”, to
“Globalizemos la Resistencia”, to billboard modifications that now read “Ya
es Tiempo Fuera Ulises”, and much much more (check out the pictures to see
more). Barricades range from rocks that span the width of the street, to
piles of dirt and trash, fires, long strips of metal, and buses and
municipal police cars that have been appropriated. For a better idea of
the barricades, you can also check out the pictures.

During the day, the barricades that are up are they ones around the Zócalo.
Most (though not all)of the other 2,000 something barricades are taken down
by 6am, moved to the side until the next night. At night, whatever is used
to make a barricade is moved into the street and intersections are guarded.
The barricades are guarded by people from the neighborhood where the
barricade is located, including people in their early teens up to older
folks in their 70s. Among the guardians, there is an understand of the
danger inherent in this task and they are ready to defend themselves.

After looking at the graffiti and barricades (and taking a much needed nap),
we started looking for members of Consejo Indígena Popular de Oaxaca-Ricardo Flores
Magon (CIPO-RFM). CIPO is a group of Indigenous libertarians (anarchists)
and part of APPO that we contacted before arriving to arrange meeting and
working with them. By 2 or 3am, after giving up our search for CIPO for the
night, we decided to return to the Zócalo and get some rest. We didn't feel
it was appropriate to walk right through the barricades surrounding the
Zócalo without asking first, so we approached someone at a barricade and
explained why we are in Oaxaca, that we'd been looking for CIPO and wanted
to go into the Zócalo. He let us in, surprised and confused that we asked.
Inside, we laid down to rest and wait for morning to come.

When morning came, we were approached by the same person who spoke with at
the barricade. He was with CLIP, and they invited us into their tent to eat
breakfast with them. After talking for awhile, they invited us to come to
the march that was scheduled for that morning with them. The march was one
of many that have taken place calling for the ousting of Ruiz, and support
of APPO. This was also to express outrage at the murder of yet another
striking teacher the previous day. The papers said there were thousands and
thousands there, probably about 10,000, and the numbers grew as the march
proceeded. As the march went along, people barricaded off streets so that
cars couldn't interfere. It was about two miles long along busy main
streets, and many people cheered in support. There was one person (that we
know of) that was on the sidelines waving a PRI flag in opposition to the
movement. Some people came equipped with spraypaint (not just youth and
anarchists) covered the route with graffiti as we went along. We passed
dozens of buses that have been re-appropriated for use as barricades. We
passed the TV station that APPO had occupied to relay information about the
struggle that has since been attacked and seized by paramilitary forces.

After the march, we spent time with CLIP at the Zócalo. They seemed to
think that everything would be over, for better or worse, within the next
few days. One person even predicted that Saturday would be the end.




Thursday night we went to the barricades (not passing through) for
the first time. It wasn't a particularly important barricade, so the
night was mostly uneventful. There were three or four barricades
separating it from a main road. Many at the barricade were sleeping
for the whole time we were there. At some point in the night, word
came over the radio that a barricade on the other side of the city had
been attacked. We heard nothing more about it, so we assume that
the compañeros at the barricade are okay.

Friday night we went to a much more strategically important
intersection guarded primarily (though not exclusively) by youth
from the neighbourhood. It was an intersection of several small
streets with a four-lane highway. A truck and a bus, both
commandeered for the barricade, blocked off a street and half of the
highway. On a corner, behind a small sandbag wall, the
barricade's guardians talked, joked, hung out, and prepared.
About a half hour after we arrived, two of them left to get an old shirt
(which one joked belonged to Rueda, the leader of the teachers'
union who is taking fire for announcing a return to classes before a
consulta) and a large container of gasoline. The Molotov cocktails
they prepared were the popular design for popular revolts: a
gas-soaked rag placed in a glass bottle half filled with gasoline. After
they had made a few, they decided to test one. It worked quite well.

One of the most interesting things was seeing the barricade's
guardians' attempts at getting more vehicles for their barricades.
Within a few minutes of us being there, an 18-wheeler truck
approached the barricade and quickly began turning around. As soon
as someone noticed it, a whistle and shouting rang out and most of
the youths ran to commandeer the corporate property for the
barricade. The driver knew immediately that a mistake had been
made by going down this road and tore off as soon as he could, but
not before a couple of the compañeros jumped on the truck. I
didn't see how they got off, but everyone seemed okay as they
walked back. But the defeat was temporary. A bus and two more
trucks came through the rest of the night, all successfully taken. And
before anyone can object to the taking mass transit vehicles,
understand that all of the buses in Oaxaca, and probably all of
Mexico are privatised. While some segments of this movement do
seem economically nationalistic, the APPO talks of anticapitalism
and rejection of neoliberalism.

In the time we were there, two delegations came to the barricade.
The first was from Radio Universidad who was trying to set up a
better network of communication between barricades to coordinate
ambulances and alerts. They of course, were also looking for an
interview. Most at the barricade were hesitant to be the interviewed
one and when they asked to speak to the commandante of the
barricade, there was a lot of pointing and giggling. Later, an official
delegation from the APPO arrived to give the barricade papers and a
flyer to be copied and posted about the upcoming Constitutional
Congress. The proposed structure is for each barricade to send two
delegates, though there are concerns about the voice that each
barricade will have in a room with over 4000 people in it. Regardless
of how it pans out, it doesn't sound like there are any plans for
the barricades to be lifted anytime soon.

Of course, the corporate media would dispute this. As usual, the
corporate press, and especially the international corporate press is
predicting an end to the conflict soon. It is doubtful that there will be
any such luck for the Mexican state. The teachers' consulta
appears to be returning a negative on the return to classes and no
one is giving up the demand (not even Rueda) for the ouster of Ruiz.
This movement will not likely be dying of old age anytime soon. It
will take extreme state repression to end it, a level of repression the
Mexican state is hesitant to muster.

“La lucha por liberdad no es fácil”
“The struggle for freedom is no easy”
--La APPO

Two members of POG in Oaxaca
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