Protest in Front of Mexican Consulate in Los Angeles Demonstrates Outrage Over Repression in Oaxaca
Carrying Bilingual Signs, Vigil Participants Demand Resignation of Governor Ulises Ruiz Ortiz
By Margarita Salazar
The Other Journalism with the Other Campaign on the Other Side
June 22, 2006
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, June 20: With a feeling of pain but also a sharp, living rage, accompanied only with the hope that comes from being alive, from having survived crossing the border – maybe yesterday, probably many years ago (as if it matters how much time has passed) – dozens of demonstrators were drawn by the brown color of their skin, their Latin features, the love of their community and above all their outrage at government brutality to travel to and demonstrate in front of the Mexican Consulate in Los Angeles.
About 60 people belonging to 12 different Mexican, Latin American and U.S. organizations expressed their concern over and repudiation of the recent events in which hundreds of Oaxacan teachers were violently attacked by state police.
Beginning at 6:00 p.m., answering a call from the Indigenous Front of Binational Organizations (FIOB in its Spanish initials), members of these organizations – which included Unión del Barrio, the Committee for Democracy in Mexico, the La Raza Student Coordinating Committee, Maya Vision, Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER), the UCLA Graduate Student Association, and the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA) – began arriving.
The demonstrators set up in front of the consular building, located on the corner of Park View and Carandolet streets. Carying bilingual sighs, the vigil participants demanded Governor Ulises Ruiz Ortiz’ resignation, saying that instead of “opening a dialog with the teachers, [Ruiz Ortiz] opened fire” on them. They also protested the government’s repression and brutality.
Odila Romero, a member of the FOIB, said that “the repression that the teachers have suffered is nothing new; these incidents are just another part of what the indigenous people of Oaxaca are suffering and that is why we are here today demanding that the dialog that Ulizes Ruiz closed be reopened.”
Another member of the same organization condemned the Oaxaca governor’s attitude. She said the governor sent letters to the communities denying that there have been any deaths, injuries, or people imprisoned during the police operation to evict the teachers’ sit-in on the central plaza.
She said that the governor is sowing terror among the population in addition to trying to buy popular support after the brutal repression.
Daniel Montes, from the Union del Barrio, said that the demonstration in front of the Mexican consulate represented not only “an act of solidarity with the teachers’ movement in Oaxaca, but with the Mexican people who are struggling against a capitalist system more brutal than the one that our parents knew; a system that has pushed millions of Mexicans to emigrate to this country – lands that were also once ours and which many of us dream will one day (hopefully soon) have a different owner. They are our lands and our children’s lands, according to the principle of the right to work.”
He said he felt that, more than an act of solidarity, the protest was part of the struggle “in the same trench as our brothers in Atenco, our miner brothers in Michoacan, our brothers in Chihuahua, in Puebla, in Jalisco, in Chiapas, all across the country and southeast of the U.S.-imposed border, because we are one people, with one single struggle and one enemy.”
As the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle indicates, he said, “this enemy is the multinational corporations who are the ones who really rule, above the governments.”
He added: “We can see that in our country, we went from the PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party) to the PAN (National Action Party) but the ones who are truly behind them both is the power of the multinationals, who spilled the blood of the Atenco farmers in order to put in a Wal-Mart; it is the power of the multinationals that changes the Constitution to make it possible to sell communal ejido lands and for the big corporations to buy them up.”
This same power, he continued, is behind the repression that wants to impose education privatization in Mexico.
“Here and there, the struggle will continue,” shouted the demonstrators in Spanish.
Álvaro Maldonado, from the March 25 Coalition, made the comment that the power of the corporations that are taking over entire countries’ economies is bringing the people together more and more as a single family. Because of this, the struggle of the teachers of Oaxaca is also the struggle of workers anywhere in the world. To face this type of aggression, he said it is necessary to build unity and organization.
Rodrigo Argueta, from the Committee for Democracy in Mexico, criticized the role of the Mexican government, who, he said, rules amidst the blood spilled by immigrants who die every day on the border because of the lack of jobs, and the nobility of the Mexican people who have born abuses for decades but are finally saying, “Ya basta!” – enough already!
He condemned the presidential candidates who spend “millions of dollars” on their campaigns while the people demand respect for their most basic rights.
“We have no illusions, nor do we believe in anyone (in politics) because again and again the government has betrayed us… The only way to change things is through popular organization, as the indigenous communities have done.”
Amid shouts of viva! for General Emiliano Zapata and the peoples of Oaxaca, other participants called the treatment of the teachers – who bear witness each day to the poverty that afflicts the state’s most marginalized communities – “inhuman.”
“We are talking about schools that are made out of sheet metal, of plastic, of boards, where there are no notebooks, no pencils, not even books. Even so, the teachers have a great devotion and love for the children. Often they spend money from their own pockets to improve these conditions, and what the government is doing to them is terrible,” said Oaxaca native Pedro Reyes.
Another teacher of Hispanic origin commented that the more repression there is against the teachers’ union, the more people will struggle. “We, as combative teachers in Los Angeles, are also with them and will continue in our struggle. Long live the teachers!”
Members of the Guatemalan organizations Alianza and Maya Vision said that in their native country they also lived through repression. “We survived and continue struggling. Now we are creating solidarity with the Oaxacan teachers, in order that there be justice,” said Policarpo Chaab. “Back there, we were unemployed and had to emigrate, but here they call us criminals. We must be united to fight against these injustices,” he concluded.
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