It's not actually as exciting as it sounds. The striking teachers in Oaxaca, aware that they are beginning to grate on the nerves of the populace after causing some $40 million in economic losses (and still counting) and also aware of the bad press they are beginning to get due to the violence and vandalism throughout the city, have backed off just a bit. They have moved some of their barricades out of the streets allowing traffic to get a block or so closer to the city center. The other barricades all around the Zócalo have been opened enough to allow free passage by pedestrians. The teachers were not stopping and harrassing tourists today. There also were no gangs of armed men manning the barricades.
So, Mark in Mexico did a little exploring, camera secreted in vest pocket. I walked all along the southern barricades as well as those to the west and north. I then cruised right through the Zócalo. What a mess.
There are thousands of people packed into the city's square. The teachers have allowed the street vendors to set up, er, on the streets. You can walk around the perimeter of the Zócolo but you cannot pass through it.
Every exposed wall all around the square, with the exception of the cathedral walls, has been painted with various slogans, and caricatures. The best one I saw was, "URO - Guelageisha" with the state's governor, Ulises Ruiz Ortiz, caricatured in a Geisha getup. The teachers and the other "support groups" use oil-based paint to make the eventual erradication of their slogans and drawings extremely difficult, time consuming and expensive. Almost all of the walls, portals, gateways and arches are in natural stone and will have to be cleaned chemically and physically using wire brushes. I have never seen, in all my time in Mexico, a sandblasting operation which is what this place really needs to have.
When the eventual cleanup takes place, the colonial architecture will all be two-toned. The bottom half of all the buildings will look like new stone while the upper sections will still have the 300-500 year-old look.
Broken windows, broken doors, smashed and twisted street lamps, parking meters gone, trash and garbage everywhere, banners hanging everywhere and every square foot of space taken up with tents, tarps, sleeping bags, awnings and people. The Zócalo, which was completely refurbished just before Christmas at a reported cost of $8 million USD, is pretty well trashed. All of the flowers and shrubs are gone. I could not get into the Zócalo itself to see if the new fountains had been damaged or not.
I walked all along the front and side of the Marquis del Valle hotel. I could not see any obvious damage from the city bus that was smashed into it. However, the hotel is built of massive pieces of stone so I imagine that the bus took the brunt of it. The restaurant all along the north side of the Zócalo has been stripped. All of the furniture is gone and the decorative wooden railings and gates that were once there are gone as well. You cannot tell it was ever the most popular restaurant on the square. I took no photos because here is where most of the anarchists, socialists, communists and revolutionary groups have set up shop. There is every "Movimiento de . . . ", "Bloque de . . . ", "Grupo de . . . ", "Comité de . . . ", and "Asamblea de . . . " that you can think of. I thought I was in Berkeley for a moment.
for art, gifts and collectibles -- all hand made
by Mexican indigenous artists.
TAGS: Oaxaca, Mexico, Oaxaca teachers' strike