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¡Oaxaca Valiente!

by Leslie Radford Tuesday, Nov. 07, 2006 at 9:10 AM

Saturday, Angelenos walked in unity with the struggle to end the government invasion of Oaxaca.

¡Oaxaca Valiente!...
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LOS ANGELES, 6 November 2006--Two hundred and fifty people marched Saturday through the streets of Los Angeles in unity with the people of Oaxaca, Mexico.

Here in El Norte I tried to make sense of what was happening a thousand miles away as I walked the winding route through Pico-Union and Westlake from St. Thomas Church on Pico to the Mexican consulate on 8th and Park View.  I imagined the American Federation of Teachers going on strike in California.  What would happen if Arnold Schwarzenegger sent the national guard into Los Angeles to force the teachers back to work, and fifteen, maybe eighteen people were killed?  And what if there emerged a movement, let's call it the Los Angeles Popular Assembly, that raised barricades around the city to keep the crazy governor's troops at bay?  Now, imagine that George Bush sent the military into Los Angeles to put down the movement, attacking the radio station that had become the voice of the movement, and the federal troops were held off with flaming school busses, slingshots, and Molotov cocktails.  Three more people die from their government's gunfire, dozens are imprisoned, and dozens more disappear.

Sunday, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets in Oaxaca in response to the Fox government's 4000-troop incursion into the city of half a million.

At Saturday's Los Angeles march, word was that the march was unpermitted--a "sidewalk only" march, but that the police showed up and offered an "escort" through the streets.  With a PA system blaring liberation music, the march was on.  Behind the lead banner announcing APPO-LA (the Los Angeles group of Asamblea popular de Oaxaca) were the Aztec dancers, in traditional embroidered dresses.   With cries of ¡Oaxaca unido jamás será vencida!, the demonstration headed down Ardmore.  Three drummers brought up the rear, beating out the rhythm of "Somos un pueblo sin fronteras!"  Residents stood in doorways cheering on the demonstration, and marchers stopped to explain the the plight of the Oaxacans to pedestrians as we skirted the edge of Koreatown.  "The government is killing our brothers and sisters in Oaxaco!" they shouted.

The marchers slowed on 8th Street outside of Guelaquetza Restaurante, shouting and shaking their fists at the Oaxacan dining establishment that supports the Mexican government.

The rally in the plaza across from the apparently-empty Mexican consulate began with a long, heartfelt singing  of the Chilean socialist hymn "Venceremos."  The speakers demanded a return to negotiations, broken off by Fox with the invasion of the city last Sunday, and the withdraw of the troops from the city.  One of the protestors compared the takeover of Oaxaca to the invasions in Chiapas, El Salvador, and Guatemala.  I asked what needed to happen, and he responded, "The governor of Mexico needs to listen to the people of Oaxaca!  People are getting killed and disappeared."   Would the people win?  "I'm very optimistic about the movement," he replied.  "The people aren't going to back off.  The police are throwing [the protestors'] rocks back at them."

Another marcher outlined the demands of  Oaxaca movement:  "The government must go," he said with ferocity.  "All the oppressive forces need to get out of Oaxaca.  All the presos politicos must be released.  Jail those that killed.  The federal police must leave the city, also the army and the marines."  He took a breath. "The government must dialogue in a serious manner."  Again, would the people win?  "Yes, the people are going to win.  The proof is La Otra Campaña, blocking the roads.  They've called for a regional strike on November 20th, in seven states."  What can U.S. citizens do?  "Push the U.S. government to stop supporting, training, advising the Mexican government.  They [the Mexican military] went in the day after Brad Will was killed.  Until then, they were still in discussions.  It was U.S. pressure."  He paused, then added hopefully, "There will be mobilizations every day in front of the consulate."

He added, "They shut down the bridge."  He was referring to action occurring as we rallied between Ciudad Juárez and El Paso, where members of La Otra Campaña and the Other Campaign on the Other Side were shutting down the Lerdo de Tejada International Bridge, denouncing walls the divide the Mexican people at the border and celebrating the barricades the people of Oaxaca have raised against the Mexican military.  Around the bridge, ICE agents materialized and their helicopters circled ominously overhead.

Before I left, I spoke to one more person, a Oaxacan resident.  "I talked to my father," she reported.  "There have been marches with a million people!"  Would the people win.  She hesitated.  Finally, she shook her head, "No, the government can not let the people win.  They can not let the people make decisions for the government."

Saturday's march was supported by FIOB-ORO, Union del Barrio, La otra en el otro lado, Mexicanos Unidos en Defensa del Pueblo, Comité pro Democracia en México, Padres unidos de Maywood, Nueva Antequera, Comunidad Católica de Oaxaca, Comunidades Zapotecos, Mixtecos, Chatinos, Yalaag, SP Cajonos y SF Cajonos, Macuiltianguis,  A.N.S.W.E.R., and  Danza Cuauhtemoc.

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by Leslie Radford Tuesday, Nov. 07, 2006 at 9:10 AM

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Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 7 posted about this article.
These comments are anonymously submitted by the website visitors.
Great job! doesn't matter Wednesday, Nov. 08, 2006 at 2:43 AM
where is this? a friend Wednesday, Nov. 08, 2006 at 5:21 AM
FLYER: Oaxaca Resources el enemigo común Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2006 at 7:34 AM
nice overlay Koolness Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2006 at 9:19 AM
Todo el Poder al Pueblo. translate Sunday, Nov. 26, 2006 at 11:25 AM

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