Sunday, December 10, 2006

Oaxaca, Mexico: APPO throws a march and nobody comes

APPO's much heralded and well publicized 8th Mega Marcha demanding the removal of Governor Ruiz Ortiz, the release of all APPO prisoners and the immediate removal of the PFP from Oaxaca went off almost without incident today. It almost didn't go off at all.

The march, scheduled for 10:00 am, was delayed for 1 1/2 hours while the march organizers waited for somebody to show up. After about 1000 people had finally gathered (according to Reforma), off they went.

This tap is just about dry.

APPO and the teachers union, who had been able to drum up numbers in excess of 150,000 in mid summer for their marches, had to wait for an hour and a half just to get 1000 today. The leadership of Sección 22 of the striking teachers didn't bother to show up at all. Some members from the Central Valleys section were there, but not too many.

The PRD was there in full dress, however, threatening to expel anyone from the party who did not openly support APPO. This was in response to a full page ad taken out in "national newspapers" (I don't know which ones but I'm looking), at a cost to the party of some 70,000 pesos, by the Oaxaca state party leaders announcing that they were declining to participate.

The PRD's national leader, Leonel Cota, threatened to expel anyone from the party, including the state executive committee of the PRD, if they did not march. According to Milenio, not a single leader or official from the Oacaca State PRD was present. So much for threats.

APPO must have known that the march was in trouble. Yesterday and all through the night they papered the city with announcements begging people to participate. They picked out spots where property owners had painted white masking paint over APPO's previous anti-government slogans and grafitti to glue up their announcements. That way they'd be easy to see, you see. It didn't work.

The city pretty much ignored them. In Plaza de las Danzas, the ultimate destination for the marchers, clowns entertained children. It was national clowns day here and the APPO clowns just fitted right in.

Florentino López Martínez, possibly the last remaining APPO spokeman not in the slammer or hiding out somewhere, threatened to start blockading highways again, but "in Putla de Guerrero, Pinotepa Nacional and in the Mixteca regions". Those are areas that can probably least afford to have highways blocked for any length of time.

I talked to a taxi driver who seemed somewhat sympathetic to the APPO cause. But even he told me that the "creyentes", the believers in the movement, had been scared off or angered by the violence and wanted nothing more to do with what few APPO leaders were not in jail. He said, "We've got to work. We've got to have safe streets."

This is the part about this whole six month long affair that the long hairs don't seem to understand. The blocked highways, the burning buses and the dangerous streets have wiped out this state's economy. It's done. It's finished. They have nothing here. And when you move out of the city into the countryside where the poorest people live, it's even worse. They had damned little to begin with. It all disappeared for most of them way back in July.

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