Monday, October 02, 2006

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2 Octubre: Tlatelolco 1968... Oaxaca 2006

Today is another anniversary. 2 October 1968 is -- or should be -- on everyone's mind when we talk about Oaxaca. Then, as now, the "intellegencia" and the people (ordinary people) said ¡No Mas! to corruption and missed opportunities and misplaced national priorities. Then, the Secretaria de Gobernacion and the President took "drastic measures" against "anarchy." Tlatelolco was the beginning of the end of the old system. The army itself spent decades undoing the shame (it's apocryphical, but the General who fired on the Politechnical High School is said to have spent the rest of his life apologizing to school kids... and telling the Presidents that the Army was not trained to attack High Schools). The PRI no longer automatically was THE party of all. And, the people no longer automatically trusted the President. Now... Oaxaca. The Secretaria de Gobernacion, Carlos Abascal may come from a fascist family, and he may represent the "law n' order" side of PAN, but he is, publically anyway, telling the press that there is no "war" in Oaxaca. And, "thanks" to George W. Bush's mishandling of the immigration question, there's little chance the Mexicans are paying attention to U.S. claims of "subversion". While there isn't any good explaination for naval overflight of Oaxaca and the obvious explanation is that the Mexican Marines are supporting PPF officers who are ready to enter the City,, it may be that Fox is just playing hardball, getting everyone to reach an agreement. I'm still hopeful for a peaceful settlement. Life, it seems, goes on even under trying circumstances. I received the following e-mail last Sunday from a non-political foreign resident of Oaxaca:

I wish I knew what "The Real Story" is.

As I stepped out of the plaza on my way to the market this morning, I noted a whole bus load of tourist, and more tourist than I have seen in days wandering down the street, and even some more in the Internet cafe. Not droves of them as in years past, but a sprinkling here and there, gives one hope.

In the market I see a flower seller creating an arrangement of flowers in a basket, it is the type that the dancers wear are their head in a festival, and that tells me much, there is always hope in preparation for a festival, you know. Again, daily, I find Oaxaca to be friendly, hopeful, full of color, smells, taste, art, smiles, Oaxaca continues to be kind to me. I went to a new exhibition down at the Museum on Garcia Vigil and Independence this evening, there are the works of various artist celebrating the life of Benito Juarez, took in more than I could digest, walked away stuffed on colors, textures, concepts.

Wandered down thru a Zocolo which is packed with sellers selling tourist stuff to no tourist, it is late and the few tourist I saw earlier today are no longer out. Ironic that APPO gave the ambulatory sellers their rights to work the Zocolo that the governor had revoked a year ago when he remodeledand now there are no tourist to sell to. Oh well, that was a no win situation. If his cabinet had not wasted the money remodeling, and not chased out the sellers, oh well, it is done.

So, as I wander, past the stalls, I see this little kid sleeping in a crate and I just know this is a perfect picture. I ask his Mom if I can shoot, she looks at her husband, I comment to him, "es por arte" and with those magic words, he nods in agreement. I get my picture, and buy a fuzzy little yellow wind up chicky toy from them for my granddaughter. I walk past a kid twirling fire batons in a ring of fire, I get another good shot. Up Alcala on my way home, it is almost deserted now. I stop for a second to ask the guy selling bus tickets about transport, he assures me all is normal as usual, one can take a first class bus to Mexico City anytime they want. I stop in and buy popcorn from a couple of girls in the ice cream shop, I am the only client and as I pay while I wait for the popcorn to pop, the girl ask me if I want a receipt, I tell her not to concern herself, I doubt she will confuse me with the non existent customers crowding the place. We have a great laugh over that concept. It never ceases to amaze me how no matter if these are difficult times, it is so easy to raise a smile or a laugh out of someone here. And again, I realize how blessed I am to have chosen my path to be Oaxaca.

The Unapologetic Mexican, is, as always, eloquent on the "big picture":
Look to Mexico, swarmed upon by the same criminals that have lived throughout time, in every land. Look to Mexico, where the people understand that it is better to die bloodied and with your heart and hands in accordance, than it is to ride a comfortable chair to Hell. Look to Mexico, the land that birthed the man who said Es mejor morir de pie, que continuar viviendo de rodillas. It is better to die on your feet than it is to continue to live on your knees. Look to Mexico, in her time of need. But do not look with pity, for she will live on, and her spirit will never die. Regardless of what el gobierno does or does not do. Look to her to know better how we ought to live. Perhaps you and I can draw strength from those proud people. For it is you and I—right here in America and snoozing in the shadow of those same dark forces that Oaxacans meet with axe handles and gasoline—who are in true need of help.


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