Oaxaca: Eight Dead, Eight
The Blood Flows from the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO)
By Luis Hernández Navarro
October 19, 2006
Eight dead, eight. Almost all of them on one side. In Oaxaca the murdered come from only one side. Blood spills from the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO), as do those wounded by gunshots, arrested without warrant, the kidnapped and the tortured.
Yet almost nothing happens to those in power. The grief of family members, the rage of compañeros, the neighbors’ fears and the solidarity of countrymen are all ignored up above. Those who are sacrificed are bodies without a name, prisoners without a biography, wounded without memory. They don’t admit it, but the silence of the power over such atrocities suggests that they believe the victims deserved what happened to them.
Where are the people responsible for the murder of teachers, architects, and students? Where are the torturers? What happened to the gunmen that have fired into the crowds? The answer is simple: they are still free, they are still committing crimes, and they live in absolute impunity.
And the authorities? Yes, the police have never been trustworthy in Mexico, much less have they been trustworthy in Oaxaca these days. Dressed as civilians, they have been ordered to attack the rebels. Then the story about the pedestrian that’s faced with the dilemma: having to choose whether to pass by a group of delinquents or by a group of policemen. He chooses to go down the less risky way, towards the delinquents. This story has never been as real as it is in Oaxaca today.
But, isn’t it exaggeration to say that in Oaxaca the deaths come from only one side? Isn’t it true that René Calva, stabbed October 5th, belonged to a current inside the teachers’ union that opposed those that demand the demise of (un-)governor Ulises Ruiz?
That’s right. René Calva was part of a current inside the teachers’ union that is opposed to the leadership of the section 22 of the National Teachers’ Union (SNTE) in Oaxaca. However, nobody believes that his murder was perpetrated by the APPO, since the democratic movement has never murdered anyone. This is not the way the democratic movement resolves its problems, as opposed to the local political class. Plus, the crime was committed immediately after the secretary of the Interior offered to remove the state’s authority over the police and take direct control of them, a possibility that was rejected both by the local Congress and the governor. The fierce media campaign against Ruiz’s opponents that followed the Calva’s murder is an unquestionable indicator of who was benefited by his stabbing.
There are two ways to measure violence in Oaxaca. The “dirty war” against members of the APPO deserves a mere couple of lines in most of the national written press, or a few seconds in the electronic media. The violence of the state government against rebellious citizens is presented as “confrontations”, thus hiding the direct responsibility of the aggressor and comparing the victims with the assailants. A few hours later everything is forgotten. The dead disappear and are condemned to oblivion.
From time to time, popular wrath explodes. The irritated crowds pursue those who shoot at them. They stop them, beat them, strip them, tie them up and exhibit them in the public square. It is then that the radio hosts show indignation against the populace and its savagery, and it is then that the secretary of the interior warns that vengeance and popular violence are unacceptable. The images, warnings and sermons condemning the facts go on for days in the newspapers and the media.
On October 14th, Alejandro García Hernández was murdered. As nearly every other person killed in this conflict, he belonged to the APPO. He was killed by a 22 caliber bullet shot by a soldier dressed as a civilian, shouting “Viva Ulises Ruiz!” while he perpetrated the crime. A day later elections were held in Tabasco, a political event that’s crucial for the country’s immediate future and that attracted immense public opinion. The corpse was still fresh when the elections covered up the victim’s blood. However, the macabre message of those that ordered the killing was left engraved in the barricades: in Oaxaca death has a permit.
The number of widows and orphans of social fighters grow every day. Those who have lost the confidence of the governed are willing to draw a blood bath. If Oaxaca falls, they say, so will Puebla and Veracruz, and who knows, maybe even Felipe Calderón. This is how they blackmail the nation, or, better said, blackmailing the powerful.
Eight dead, eight. It seems that modern bosses haven’t realized that the use of terror hasn’t been effective to stop the struggle. They don’t know that every death they provoke serves as another reason to keep the movement alive. In the popular mind, Ulises Ruiz has already been defeated. The senators better realize this soon. Every new coffin of a rebellious citizen that’s buried in Oaxaca will also be their responsibility, as it will be of the federal government.
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