Monday, November 13, 2006

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Big Mac... attacked... again!

The teachers' strikes have been going on for 20 plus years. Ulises Ruiz wasn't the first Governor to steal an election, and AMLO's loss wasn't the first shady presidential election in Mexico. But, what convinced the Oaxacaños they could take on the powers that be? Juchitan famously resisted the State back in the early 90s and installed a PRD-led municipal council... but that was put down. The first successful modern people-power movement in Oaxaca was back in 2002 -- and the fight was the Golden Arches v the golden-hued historical arches of Oaxaca... or Big Macs v. Crickets. The crickets won... and the rest is history. TODAY:
OAXACA, Mexico (AP) -- In the conflict-torn Mexican city of Oaxaca , police say four youths wearing masks tossed gasoline bombs at a McDonald's restaurant, damaging the windows, seats and play area. Security personnel at the shopping center where the McDonald's is located put out the blaze. The restaurant was closed during the pre-dawn attack, and nobody was hurt. The shopping mall is near a university where leftist protesters set up their headquarters last month after police drove them out of the city's main plaza. Those activists attacked a Burger King restaurant in the same mall with gasoline bombs last week. However, leaders of the movement deny their members were responsible for today's attack...
This is round two of the Great Oaxaca Burger Wars... Back to round one... published in the NY Times, the last time a Oaxacan uprising made the news... and incidentally, the people won. The store bombed last night is the one mentioned as being "near a Mercedes dealership."
Mexicans resisting McDonalds Fast Food Invasion McTaco vs. Fried Crickets: a Duel in the Oaxaca Sun August 24, 2002 By TIM WEINER NY Times OAXACA, Mexico, Aug. 22 - The town square in this old city is a kind of sacred space. Beside a cathedral, under ancient shade trees, people sit for hours on cast-iron benches, passing time slowly, framed by stone arches glowing golden in the afternoon light. Two new golden arches may be rising soon. A certain corporation known throughout the world for its hamburgers - and as a symbol of American culture - plans to open an outlet on the southeastern corner of the square. The proposal has set off a lively debate about food, money and power in Oaxaca (wa-HA-ka), where the favorite snack is fried crickets, not french fries. "This is the center of our city, a place where people meet, talk politics, shop and spend time," said Francisco Toledo, 61, a native Oaxacan and perhaps Mexico's best-known living artist. "It's a big influence on art and creativity. And we are drawing the line here against what the arches symbolize." McDonald's, which sold $40 billion of food last year, has faced down opposition all over the world, including American communities from Ft. Bragg, Calif., to the Bronx. The protests have sometimes turned to political theater, most famously in 1999, when a French farmer, José Bové, dismantled a new McDonald's in Millau, a citadel of cheese in southwestern France. But McDonald's marches on: more than half its 30,000 branches are outside the United States. Since 1985, it has opened 235 outlets in Mexico, including one on the outskirts of Oaxaca, across the highway from a Mercedes-Benz dealership. Though Mexicans ometimes have a hard time pronouncing the name - it usually comes out as "Madonna's" - many have no trouble downing McBurritos and jalapeño-topped McMuffins. The fast-food giant says it will respect the cultural identity and architectural traditions of Oaxaca's old square. But Oaxaca is a world capital of slow food, based on recipes that go far, far back in time. It is famous for its seven varieties of mole, a painstaking sauce that can take three days to make; tamales baked slowly in a banana leaf, and those crickets, which take a long time to catch but have far more protein, fewer calories and less fat than ground beef. (They taste like grass-fed shrimp - an acquired taste, perhaps, but a very popular one.) Public opinion in Oaxaca's zócalo, the town square, favors those old tastes. "The zócalo's a place with colonial arches and a colonial rhythm - not the place for McDonald's," said Sara Carre~o, 39, who runs the ancient wooden telephone switchboard at the Hotel Señorial. "The difference between fast food and Oaxacan food is too great." Mr. Toledo led hundreds of marchers to the zócalo, where they feasted on tamales, but the protests have not struck a universal chord. The State of Oaxaca may be the poorest in Mexico, and some people wonder whether they can afford to reject any form of foreign investment. "Oaxaca was so isolated from the world for so long that any change feels like an onslaught," said Iliana de la Vega, 42, who runs El Naranjo, an acclaimed restaurant off the zócalo. "Now, I'm not in favor of McDonald's. But there are people who want their business. And if they follow the rules, pay taxes, give people jobs - you can't outlaw that, can you?" The argument now lies in the hands of the city government. But this may be less an issue of politics and power than of taste and time. Can a company that prides itself on speed and uniformity fit in a place where people value taking their time and making food by hand? "Real food is not frozen meat," said Jacqueline García, 24, who runs Toñita's, a food stand in Oaxaca's old market. "It's fresh cheese and crickets. Fast food's unnatural. The people who make it are incompetent. And McDonald's belongs in the United States, not our zócalo."
Eaters of the world unite... we have nothing to lose but our mole!


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