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News :: Human Rights
Boston and the World Unites to Support Oaxaca
22 Nov 2006
Most of those in America who have heard of Oaxaca, Mexico know it as a vacation spot: The fifth largest State of the country – and also the poorest one- attracts many tourists with its white beaches and food. Visitors might be curious about it’s large indigenous population, but will probably be distracted by their hunt for a black pottery plate or a carved wooden figurine to bring back as a souvenir. But do a Google search and a different kind of Oaxaca will appear, surrounded by words like: teachers strike, repression, resistance, violence, killings...yet, nothing is reported about it on national televisions.

The silence surrounding the situation in Oaxaca is what the worldwide protest held on Monday November 20 was about. In Boston -as well as in seventeen US cities- people started to gather outside the Park Street T-stop at 7 am to support those who have been fighting the government for the past 6 months. Braving the cold, they handed out flyers to commuters on their way to work, educating them about the issue.
Boston activists hold a banner in support of APPO and the people of Oaxaca. It includes a map of Mexico highlighting the state of Oaxaca. - Photo by Jonathan McIntosh
At some point during the morning, a huge banner was attached over the mass pike bridge; in Harvard Square, an American flag was hoisted upside down with the letters APPO (The Popular Assembly of the People’s of Oaxaca was formed in June 2006 to unify the groups and respond to the government) and on Park plaza, red paint was thrown on three windows of the Mexican consulate to symbolize the blood of the victims. Visuals to convey one message: People of Oaxaca, we are behind you.

Alfonso, who is from Oaxaca, was here to support members of his family who have been harassed by the police and the “death squads” of the PRI: “The government steels our resources, our lands, exploits our forests but doesn’t help the community. So we started protesting. And they shoot at us. People who have held peaceful marches get murdered!” Juan, also from Mexico, is here as part of the Tonanzin Committee to protest the police abuse: “The police doesn’t know how to use their mouths. They just shoot, that’s what they’re trained to do by the government. Kill, don’t ask questions…”

And so far, over a dozen people have been killed, among which 3 teachers, a child and an Indymedia journalist. In addition to the killings, some people have simply disappeared and to this day have not been heard from and many more are constantly being harassed and threatened by the police…The people of Oaxaca have been battling with the government since 1994 but the battle turned into a strike in May when public-education teachers demanded more funds for their classrooms and a wage increase. They were joined by student and indigenous groups, paralyzing the State with strikes, protests and demands for a new constitution. “We want more rights for the indigenous people. We also want to see the profits of our lands!” adds Juan. “That’s not too much to ask for!” The government responded with clear human rights abuse “If you’re lucky, threats and violence. If not, a bullet.”

Which is what brought Alethea Vasilas to today’s demonstration. The Bostonian student first heard about this through emails from her American friends living in Oaxaca who have witnessed first hand the violence the people are being subjected to. “My friend had to buy vinegar to heal herself from tear-gas! Another one, who is a journalist, is under constant threats. He is really scared! They send me pictures of burning buses, people crying…” She is also here today to force Boston to care about it: “Why isn’t this on the news?” So is Noah: “ It’s obvious it’s emanating from the US, because of the NAFTA agreement. Who does Mexico sell the resources they steel to? Us. So it’s my responsibility to be here today.”

At 4:15, the group marched down Tremont Street, blocking traffic and handing out flyers. A lot of passer-bys, impressed with the size of the march, were very curious about it: “How come we don’t know about it?” seemed to be everyone’s question. From a distance, you could see the two giant puppets -a skeleton bride and her skeleton groom- in remembrance of the Day of the dead; a Mexican spiritual holiday celebrated the first week of November, which this year was dedicated to the killings in Oaxaca. For an hour, the group chanting against Oaxaca Governor Ulises Ruiz Ortiz: “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Ruiz Ortiz has got to go” and “Oaxaca alive and well, Ortiz can go to Hell!” made its way around the Mexican Consulate before heading back to Park Street. Contrasting with the oppression the people of Oaxaca have been under, and past protests in the US, today’s “civil disobedience” was escorted by the local police, who was seen joking with some of the demonstrators before asking the group to move to one side of the road: “Don’t block the folks trying to get home! We really don’t want to arrest anyone!”

Perhaps that was the biggest message they could have sent to Oaxaca: Change and peace is possible. Even for just one day of demonstration in Boston, Massachusetts. To quote Noah: “People are starting to resists governments all over the world. Change can happen. We need to support them. I hope today’s solidarity spreads!”

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PHOTOS - Oaxaca Solidarity Events
21 Nov 2006

For more of Jonathan's photography check out:

photos from harvard square.
22 Nov 2006
Click on image for a larger version

Remember November 023.jpg
Click on image for a larger version

Remember November 025.jpg
On November 20th, the U.S. flag was rigged upside down over Harvard Square, with "APPO" scrawled on the stars, to symbolize the overthrow of the U.S. neoliberal empire in Mexico. It stayed there for at least five hours.

The Square is home to many players in the imperialist game, including Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, the Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, and a branch of the Inter-American Development Bank, responsible for Plan Puebla Panama.

The rigging was part of an international day of action in solidarity with the people of Oaxaca.
See also:
a couple of things
22 Nov 2006
great article! just a couple of corrections:
1. the circular gathering at 3:30 wasnt a moment of silence, it was an assembly. We were gathered to discuss our actions at the march democratically, to plan the route, the strategy, and the targets etc.

2. Though the police didnt arrest anyone or hurt anyone (luckily) they were not friendly. They did not ask the marchers to move kindly, they posed an ultimatum. When the marchers responded that they would have to discuss the ultimatum democratically, as they have no leader, one cop said, "then, im your new leader, now get to the side of the road." Though this was definately funny and the marchers laughed, the cop was not joking. Reaffirming that the marchers had no leader they marched around the police and ignored them, staying on the street.
"APPO get out"
22 Nov 2006
My questions here are ligitimate and if you censor them again I will come to your next rally and ask them loudly for the whole world to hear.

Many of the indy media reports ive read admit to sever local dissatisfaction with the appo, their aims and tactics. Additionally Indy media reports admit that they are armed with and use guns, fire bombs and homemade rocket launchers and that they steal independently owned busses and target local shop keeps and residents for a seige of Oaxaca. What ive read and scene points to a seeming hypocrisy in that the appo actually pays and arms its people to the detriment of the local populace.

Isnt that clearly contrary to the descriptions of them here as being popular and nonviolent?

I have not scene any cohesive anti imperialist analysis for the teachers strike which I understand is a local ritual and has since been declared over. Have you?

There is a long history of local labor struggles being taken over by external interests. This is following close on the heals of the US regime changes in Iraq, Haiti, Liberia, Ukraine and with a major campaine against Sudan in progress.

Does anyone else see the problem with americans calling for the overthrow of another countries government?

The over the top US Indy media based overthrow rhetoric and overtly contradictory portrayals doesn’t explain why activists should drop any anti-imperialist work to engage in destabilizing regime change in a foreign country that reportedly has the potential for inciting civil war.

Is there any moral surplus any where in US and western societies which have been completely corrupted by imperialism and Zionism and continue to fail to mount any real resistance to them?
some comment
22 Nov 2006
this "APPO get out" comment has been published on several Indymedia websites... Nice try URO... but you can't fool us that easy... Great job Boston! Que viva la APPO!
The APPO Grows
22 Nov 2006
The municipal and communal authorities, representatives of community and regional organizations, citizen men and women from the communities and municipalites of San Miguel Cajonos, San Francisco Cajonos, Santa Cruz Yagavila, San Baltasar Yatzachi, Villa Hidalgo Yalalag, San Juan Analco, Calpulalpan de Méndez, San Juan Yetzecovi, San Juan Yalahui, San Juan Atepec, San Cristóbal Chichicaxtepec Mixe, San Juan Tabaá, Santa María Yavesía, Ixtlán de Juárez, Tanetze de Zaragoza, Asunción Cacalotepec Mixe, Villa Alta, Macuiltianguis, Ayutla Mixe, Tamazulapan Mixe, San Juan Teponaxtla, San Miguel Tiltepec, Guelatao de Juárez, Santa María Alotepec Mixe, Jaltepec de Candayoc Mixe, Asunción Lachixila, San Mateo Éxodo, Cristo Rey La Selva, Arroyo Macho, Talea de Castro, Santa María Mixistlán Mixe, Chuxnaban Mixe, San Lucas Camotlán Mixe, San Miguel Quetzaltepec Mixe, Totontepec Villa de Morelos, Amatepec Mixe, San Juan Guichicovi Mixe, San Pedro Ocotepec Mixe, Santa Cruz Condoy Mixe, San Isidro Aloapan, Santiago Zoochila and Santa María Tepantlali Mixe belonging to the Zapoteco, Mixe and Chinanteco peoples, met in the municipality of San Pablo Guelatao de Juárez, Oaxaca México; with the goal of analyzing and reflecting on the reality in which our communities are living, and proposing our form of participation in the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca.


That while Mr. Ulises Ruiz continues in his position there will not be peace, governability and harmony in Oaxaca. Therefore we demand his removal through the political and legal pathways which are relevant, since he is the personification of the cacique authoritarian regime.

That we demand a profound transformation of Oaxaca with the goal of resolving the unanswered needs, in which our peoples, marginalized and forgotten, find themselves.

We need a new social pact between the Oaxaqueños, which may be the cement of a new norm for order and a new society which lives in peace, justice and harmony.

We condemn the violence and repression as the way to try to resolve serious social problems that we are living with. Therefore we demand the departure of the federal forces from Oaxaca, the demilitarization of the communities of the Sierra Norte, the release of political prisoners, the return of the disappeared, alive, the cancellation of arrest warrants, respect for the autonomy of the university and the cessation of all kinds of aggression toward the popular movement of Oaxaca.

We demand the removal of the Government Delegations in all the indigenous regions, particularly in the Sierra Norte, since it is they who have promoted division in our communities and it is they who have aggrieved our authorities and community directors. In the same way we demand that the political parties, especially the PRI, stop attacking the political institutions of our communities and municipalities, and that they not interfere in our internal life. If they don’t comply with this demand we will take radical measures for their definitive expulsion from the Sierra.

We call for unity among the authorities and citizens of the Zapoteco, Mixeand Chinanteco peoples to achieve our demands and life aspirations. We know there are persons and institutions who have divide us and who have confronted us. We are not going to permit they continue repressing and manipulating us. For that we should open our eyes and our minds to unify ourselves, to walk together to achieve the fall of the bad governor and achieve the transformations that our State needs.

We indigenous authorities present believe that the problems we live with today in Oaxaca should be resolved by dialogue. Therefore we recognize the “Citizen Initiative for Dialogue for Peace, Democracy and Justice in Oaxaca” and we add ourselves to this aforesaid effort. Our path should be oriented toward the use of the pacific means to achieve conciliation and unity among all the Oaxaqueños.

continue with rest of declaration:
See also:
the whole world?
22 Nov 2006
can you really talk that loud consuela? cause shit, then i would be very impressed.
Comment on the Boston-Oaxaca Solidarity Event
24 Nov 2006
fantastic article!!!

I hope reseistance spreads, I hope we keep exploring creative and imaginative ways to bring this struggle, esta lucha, into the conciousness of US citizens. They do care-anyone who's been on the streets spreading the word will attest to that-they just need some (constant & creative) reminding. Thanks for this great article to let other activists know what's going on.

Some thoughts: The puppets were a GREAT idea. They were different, festive, celebratory, out of the ordinary and just perfect. They disarmed bystanders of their defensive/margainalizing thoughts, and people looked and smiled when they saw them!!!

The chants were good too. Especially the ones in Spanish. They give people power. How are the people of Oaxaca chanting down Babylon? What chants are they using? How can we use music in our protests to draw attention? Any brass bands in the Boston area?

Bostonians! Activists from across the nation and around the Globe....WHAT'S NEXT???
"Whats Next!"
24 Nov 2006
So the APPO sucks but you support it anyways?

Look there are entire branches of US based imperialism dedicated to rounding up malcontents and otherwise criminals, feeding them with warm food and revolutionary or separatist fervor to overthrow targeted governments.

Why does the USS Indy media have to capsize with the same game?

Why not look at the big picture?

What is really changing hands now in Mexico?

What is moving from here to there?
From there to here?
Who wants a piece of that action?
Who wants to shut it down?
Most importantly who wants to own it all in 5 years?

Remember war is only the second most profitable business with engineering economic collapse thru currency flight followed by ownership consolidation being a far superior first.
Of course killing economies and scooping everything up from under the wreckage requires a little war investment.

Here's a scenario:

The APPO disrupts the local economy bringing a federal reaction and increased unrest. The formerly employed tourist workers join the "rebellion" to get dinner for the family.

It spreads and Mexico goes up in flames.

Thousands flee north to rapidly falling wages in the US labor fields. The 'guest worker' system is in place to take a cut of the action for the feds.
Strife between gringos and Mexicans distracts everyone quicker than Cindy sheenan in a hot Texas ditch.

Diligently unseen by the fad of the day the popular and overwhelmingly democratically elected peoples Hamas movement is exterminated.

US airlines make up for the loss of the south bound tourist bucks by flying US troops to war on Sudan.

Carnival cruise lines moves in after a few good years domestically to buy up the cinders of Oaxaca and hire back the former hotel owners as dishwashers and card dealers.

Overthrow complete.

What do you think?