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APPO TAKES OVER CENTRO, OAXACA

One of the cool things about Oaxaca is there’s actually a kind of functioning citizenship. Marches on the streets almost every day for various collective interests. The zocalo (town square) is occupied now by striking teachers and APPO. APPO is a non-partisan movement with many objectives such as ousting the governor and it advocates the standard laundry list of progressive issues (anti-privatization, anti-globalization, pro-education, local sovereignty, etc.) Some think Oaxaca’s going to blow up again, like it did in 2006 and people were killed including–gasp–a white guy. Others think that it won’t turn into a movement again because there won’t be enough support. In 2006 the businesses suffered too much and people didn’t make money. Should be interesting.

Yesterday was eventful. APPO took over the government buildings here and blockaged two roads, one to the airport and the one to Mexico City. Good thing we got our visa last week before they occupied the visa administration office. So far it’s more tranquil than in 2006 where the federal government killed and disappeared many dissidents including the indy journalist Brad Will because he was taking a photo of the police. (Always makes me nervous when Smith takes photos of police here.)

We went down to the zocalo to check it out and felt perfectly safe, though I didn’t see many other gringos around. It’s kinda like a party. Tarps are spread over the entire town center, and teachers have spread cardboard over the pavement as insulation for sleeping bags. Lots of tents, too. And people selling food to the teachers, and others selling indigenous crafts.

Took a taxi ride with a friend. She asked the driver about the occupation. He said it’s peaceful, and that the teachers and APPO are peaceful, it’s the government we have to worry about.

This town is very strange. We walked by a couple hundred policemen at the university last week. We felt so conspicous and a bit frightened. The police were there because the students were voting for the university president, and sometimes there are gun battles over the voting. I don’t understand why the police were there rather than in the zocalo. My friend says if the police go to the zocalo, there will be death, and the governor’s trying to avoid a showdown.

The policemen at the university were armed with sticks. The sticks are painted municipal/fascist black or gray. Making instruments of punishment municipal colors is typical of the euphemistic atmosphere promoted by institutions trying to claim legitimacy. Kinda like how they have doric columns on the buildings that adjudicate privilege.

Friend says the university is full of radicalistas. She said it to warn me about taking classes there, but I want to go there, meet young people full of ideas. That they would be radical is icing on the cake for me. I would love to take classes in another country, another language.

Here in our nest of an apartment on the edge of centro, we don’t see much. We can’t find much English language news of Oaxaca, so today I’m going to try to force myself through the local spanish language paper, see more of what’s going on.

Lady

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