I made my way to downtown Oaxaca yesterday to check out the striking teachers who have once again ensconced themselves in the city. On my way I took some photos of some of the damage that they have done during their various marches. Let me say that it is not possible to lay all of this at the feet of the teachers. As I commented in an earlier post, every fringe group of lunatics that one can name here in Mexico has arrived and is "participating" in the insurrection.
The Communists, The Anarchists, the Socialists, the EZLN (the insurrectionists in Chiapas), and more groups than I can name are here. So, the damage may or may not have been done by the members of the teachers' union but they will get all the blame.
"Ulises murderer that kills children" says this handiwork painted on the outside wall of a very nice home near the Parque Llano. What everyone here calls the Parque Llano is shown on the maps as Parque Benito Juarez. The government has had someone going around town for the past couple of days painting over the name of the governor, Ulises Ruiz Ortiz (URO). They leave the rest of the lettering legible and just paint over the Governor's name. Hilarious. The walls and windows of homes, businesses and churches have been thusly decorated all over the city.
Just across the street is a beautiful colonial church which was also decorated with "URO this" and "URO that". The church had workers out painting over the grafiti. Some sections of the wall that you see are still in the natural stone and had also been painted with lettering that said "Remember the martyrs of Atenco". Atenco was where a group of campesinos who had sold their land to the federal government for the new Mexico City airport changed their minds and attacked construction workers with machetes. When the police arrived they were beaten back by the "macheteros" in much the same way as the teachers defeated the police here in Oaxaca. Several policemen and macheteros died, hence the "martyr" business. The airport project was canceled. Anyway, I asked the fellow there in the red shirt how he planned to clean the grafiti off of the raw stone and he told me he would have to use a wire brush and solvent.
On the main pedestrian-only promenade that runs from Santo Domingo to the zócalo, the marchers from Friday's "mega-marcha" left many signs like this in their wake. Many of the shops, plazas and museums have wooden doors and were undamaged, at least as far as I could see. The ones with glass doors and windows did not fare so well, however.
This is Santo Domingo and is usually packed with tourists and street venders. Not yesterday. The teachers are not this far north. Their blockades begin about 3 blocks further to the south.
This is as far as you can safely walk down the main promenade towards the zócalo. We are about two blocks away from the city center. We had just been blessed with a torrential downpour which is why there are no teachers armed with clubs blocking the promenade. They are all standing over there on the left, trying to dry themselves out. On the right you see another group folding a tarp that they had quickly strung up to get some protection from the rain. Just before I took this photo, a man was walking down the center of the promenade towards me. I was aiming the camera but I put it down to wait for him to pass. After taking this shot, he accosted me. Words were exchanged. I don't know whether he was angry at the idea of photos in general of if he thought I had snapped his picture. He spoke two words of English, the second of which was ". . . you." He repeated this phrase several times. Notice how many pòliceman you see in the photos. Zip. I walked away.
One block further to the west the teachers had regrouped their blockade. I saw them stopping people trying to pass through their lines and checking their bags and parcels. There were 7 men armed with gigantic Neanderthal type clubs. A real bunch of Ally Oopers. Again, no cops. I tried to maneuver for an angle where I could get a shot without them seeing me but it was just too dangerous. If there had been any police in the area I would have tried it.
The government has announced that there will be a march of state and city employees in support of Governor Ruiz. I doubt that takes place. The newspaper reporter tried to get the government spokesman to give him the time and place of the march but he couldn't.
The teachers and almost all of the news media have been barking about there being 40-50,000 teachers now in the city center. I saw very few people, just a thousand or so, if that many. I see the downtown area blocked about 2 blocks to the north and two blocks to the south, 4 blocks to the east and two blocks to the west. The city center itself consists of three blocks, roughly, so that means the teachers only have about 24 blocks under their control. But believe me, this is only because that's all the personnel they have. They have proven that if they wanted more, they would take it.
Many of the shops and boutiques were open for business and that surprised me. Even the ones with shattered windows and doors were open. I did not attempt to pass through the teachers' lines to see what had become of the zócalo. However, the wife of the owner of the Marquis hotel and restaurant which occupies all of the north side of the zócalo has children attending my sons' school. I saw her this morning and she was in tears at the school. She said she did not know how the family was going to recover all that they had lost. After the initial confrontation Wednesday morning, the teachers counterattacked and regained control of the zócalo. They commandeered a city bus and smashed it into her hotel. She said they had broken into the restaurant also. They had carried off all of the televisions and VCR's from the rooms, paintings and carpets, telephones and computers from the rooms, lobby and offices, tables and chairs from the restaurant, kitchen supplies and equipment, just about everything that was not nailed down. Her families business is destroyed. All that is left is a shell and part of that is heavily damaged.
If you visit and read accounts of what is happening here in IndyMedia or the Narco News Bulletin, you will read that all of this is justified. I would like any one of those cowards sitting on their fat asses in the USA to come down here and stand before this lady and tell her how the loss of her family's business is justified. And for any of you who are business owners, check the fine print for disclaimers about "insurrection" or "rebellion" to see if your insurers would pay you if this happened to your business. Down here they won't.
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TAGS: Oaxaca teacher's strike, Governor Ulises Ruiz Ortiz, Oaxaca, Mexico