UPDATED: The photos are posted, finally.
I think I mentioned yesterday in the Bradley Will execution post that I was late out of the gate because I was downtown hobnobbing with the jack-booted Nazi Brownshirts, the so-called federales, the so-called PFP, whom I so call rescuers. Actually, they actually wear black and grey, actually, literally.
I should be posting photos of same but I find myself with camera and computer #2 at Site #2 while USB cable is at Site #1 with computer #1. Oh, well. I need to get this posted. I'll try to get across the city later to retrieve said cable and post the pictures.
I said that there is much more tension amongst the PFP officers than I noted a week or so ago when I last visited the Zócalo. You might not notice it if it were your first visit, but the difference between a week ago and now is, er, noticeable.
There are probably several reasons for this. First, the officers are tired of standing in formation all day, tired of crummy food, tired of standing in line to use the porta-potties or to take a shower, tired of being away from home and family for a month, tired of gearing up and rushing to the lines every time some group or another comes marching down the street (an almost daily occurrence), disheartened by the retreat from Juarez University and disheartened by this:
That was a headline in a left-wing rag hanging at a newsstand being scrutinized by several PFP officers (the headline, not the newsstand). It is the habit here to hang the front pages of various newpapers outside the newsstands. Some of the larger kiosks will have a dozen or more newspapers hanging outside for passersby to stop and read. As far as left-wing rags go, there are probably 10 for every pro-government rag and 50 for every nuetral newspaper, of which I know of about 4 (Reforma, El Norte, El Universal and La Crónica). The rest are either so obviously-as-to-be-ridiculous in the pocket of the PRI (El Sol de Puebla), leaning waaay towards the government (El Imparciál of Oaxaca), way to the left of Gen. Nguyen Giap (La Jornada of UNAM), so viciously anti-government as to be rendered unbelievable (Noticias de Oaxaca) or, as the one the PFP and I were reading, daily Communist manifestos.
Breakfast on the Zócalo. There is a mess tent but these guys were after atole (I'm not sure I can adequately describe atole so I'm not going to try) as well as flirting with the señoritas serving it.
I walked up and struck up a conversation with a PFP officer in front of the "besieged" story. I asked him, "What do you think when you see an article like this?" He replied that he didn't pay too much attention because it was "izquierdo" (from the left). I asked him if he viewed himself as an occupier. He replied that, no, he was here to get the streets open to free movement of traffic and establish some security, "por lo menos en el centro" (at least, in the downtown). Brownshirt goose-stepper.
These guys didn't mind being photographed. Others, however, did.
Now APPO is threatening to "besiege the PFP with an unarmed human fence to force the PFP to abandon Oaxaca". I'm sure this weighs heavily on the officers' minds, as well. I saw far more armed men in the Zócalo during this visit than I did the last time. So many more, in fact, that I was a bit taken aback. I guess I can understand why. They've been confronted several times over the past month and each time attacked with rocks, bottles, glass and "steely" marbles fired from slingshots and Molotov cocktails (gasoline bombs, to put a finer point on it). They know they're going to be hit again, it's just a matter of time. The waiting no doubt drives up stress levels. Murderous right-wing mercenaries.
I would estimate that this is about 1/5th the total armed men
in the Zócalo, at least four times as many as I saw last week.
For the first time, a group of PFP officers refused permission (with smiles) to have their photos taken. This surprised me. They weren't nasty or anything, they just didn't want any photos taken. Other groups didn't seem to mind, however, and readily granted permission. Even a group of heavily armed officers had no problems with a photo. Jack-booted thugs, all.
I found an area of the Zócalo -- remember, it had just been completely redesigned and rebuilt when the teachers' occupation began -- with some greenery. Before the occupation which began in May, the Zócalo was dotted with sizeable sections filled with plants and flowers. I thought they were all gone.
Since there is some construction equipment in the Zócalo being used to repair the damage left by the teachers and APPO, I asked a PFP officer who was standing near if the plants were newly planted. He responded that no they weren't, but they were the only ones that had survived. Then he started to describe to me how beautiful the Zócalo had been before the trouble started and what the city's plans were to decorate it for Christmas. Vicious Nazi.
Most of the Zócalo looks like this. In May, all these areas were full of newly planted flowers, shrubbery and other plants.
I wandered down Macedonia Alcalá a few blocks. This is the big promenade at the north end of which sits Santo Domingo and the APPO encampment and at the south end of which lie the PFP lines. I stopped in front of the Juarez University School of Law and Social Sciences where a small crowd of students were awaiting the start of their classes. I had a chat with four of them, 3 young ladies and a fellow.
The four kids I talked to are in this group.
I asked them if the main campus had reopened - again - and they said it had not. They told me they were fifth year law students who had some of their classes in this building downtown. They had other classes at the main campus and those were all canceled. They told me that they were probably going to lose this entire semester and have to repeat what few classes they had been able to attend. I asked them why they bothered to attend classes if they were going to have to repeat them. The young man said, "We have to try."
All four kids said they were strongly opposed to the closing of the university. I was surprised at how open they were. They must have known all of the other students who were standing around. They said there was nothing they could do against the "porros" (fools, idiots, toughs, thugs - take your pick) inside Juarez University. Then came this interesting statement, joined in by all four. "They (the thugs inside the university) are not students." "I don't know who they are." "I think they are from Oaxaca but are not UABJO students." "There are also many from other states." "There are several from the Tech university who go to classes there and then cross the city to close our school so we can't go to class." I asked them if they had any idea when this might end. Shrugged shoulders all around. I wished them luck and went on my way.
I was downtown quite early. It seemed a much colder place than it had been two weeks earlier but this may have been due to the hour. Everybody is a little bitchy in the mornings, I guess. I have to try to get out of town tomorrow on business, but I'll try to get downtown this weekend at a more reasonable hour. That is, if the APPO marchers allow it. This is a holiday weekend here -- Revolution Day, heh heh -- so there could be three full days of riots. We'll see.
The Double Whopper with Cheese remains on the endangered species list.
for art, gifts and collectibles -- all hand made
by Mexican indigenous artists.
TAGS: Oaxaca, Mexico, Oaxaca teachers strike, PFP, UABJO, APPO