Spokespersons from the local Oaxacan community say they will hold vigils at the consulate throughout the week and are organizing for a large demonstration at the consulate this Thursday Nov 2nd. They are demanding that the state violence against the people of Oaxaca stop immediately and that both sides work toward a peaceful solution to the current crisis in Oaxaca.
Uploaded is an mp3 file of an interview with one of the organizers of the demonstration.
by Un Joven Tezcatlipoca
Wednesday, Nov. 01, 2006 at 8:39 PM
We also had a protest in New York. But, it was much different. Here, the protest manifested as a skillful and powerful action to completely shut down the Mexican consulate. Many of the participants were friends of Brads who used tactics from the environmental movement to disrupt and shut down the consulate.
However, I felt very torn and in some ways disturbed, not by the tactics, but by the action's target. The Mexican consulate in New York is mostly used by Mexican immigrants to process their legalization papers. As a result, a huge crowd of Mexican immigrants were trapped inside the consulate, others were turned away, some were pushed around by police, and still others were herded into police pens along with protestors. What was supposed to be an action against the repressive Mexican government looked more like an action against immigrants, with a mostly white crowd of protestors yelling at a building full of confused and worried Mexicanos.
I'm really not sure what we accomplished. Perhaps the consulate office submmitted a report to their offices in Mexico complaining about the disturbance. (I doubt that kind of report would do much good for the movement in Oaxaca). I know that many people in Mexico read about the action and (without mention of the problems it posed for the immigrant community) were very inspired by it. I also think the action served as a much needed catharsis for the participants, who were close friends of Brads and needed a way to vent their frustration, anger and remorse. (but at who's cost?)
Earlier in the year, Movimiento Para Justicia del Barrio (a Mexican immigrant group that organizes for tenants rights and are adherents to the Zapatista Otra Campana) did a consultation with their community. After extensive meetings, voting, and research engaging their community of East Harlem, MPJDB identified eight major problems in their community. One of those eight problems (among violence against women, low wages, and repressive immigration laws) was long lines at the consulate. The results of the "consulta con el barrio" were published in Spanish language news papers, indymedia (english) and narco news (bilingual).
But, this voice was not heard by local white activists. Instead, people heard and listened to a call from Oaxaca asking for people to protest at the Consulate. Why is it easier for white American activists to listen to Oaxaca, Chiapas or Mexico City than to listen to communities of color down in their own city?
The protest in LA looked much different. It looked like it was mostly Mexicanos and mostly focusing on Oaxaca (as opposed to Brad's death). Did you guys have similar problems or concerns about harming undocumented people who were trying to get their papers? What do you guys think about the effectiveness of targeting the consulate?
Thank you for taking the time to read my long comment.
peace -un chicano de califaztlan, trying to stay warm and trucha in this cold ass city, nueva york.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this. The protesters at this event in Los Angeles did not block the entrance to the consulate or interfere with the business of the people coming in and out of the building. It was a picket, press conference, and demonstration type of action. The protest here was initiated by local grassroots groups fighting for the rights of the Maya and the many other tribes living under colonial rule in Mexico. There were some people with the flowers and photos of Brad Will that were there. But mainly this was a protest of people from Oaxaca who are directly affected by what’s going on in Oaxaca.
The population of people from Oaxaca in the Los Angeles area is estimated to be about 100,000. These are people who are getting phone calls from their families telling them what is happening in Oaxaca. What they told me is that what they hear from their families by phone and what they hear on the news does not match up.
They said there are many more deaths than have been reported, people are being taken away in the middle of the night, disappeared. Journalists are being targeted. They said another local journalist with Noticas was killed that morning. Mass arrestees of people, they are beaten and then taken away in helicopters. Difficult to follow the helicopters so they don’t know where people are being taken.
There are reports of burns from the water cannons, chemical tests have shown the water to be abnormally acidic prompting some to speculate that acid was added or the water comes from a polluted source.
They also say that it is not just the city that but the surrounding region where there is protest and government repression taking place. The retaking of the city center by the federal police is for show. The fed. police have not taken all of the city and resistance continues.
My feeling is that if the people from Oaxaca feel its right to protest at the consulate then its OK. As for the effectiveness of protesting at consulates, that’s hard to say. It’s always hard to measure the effectiveness of an action if the goals are not defined. But if you say we are going picket for two hours to call attention to something and the media shows up then your action was a success. If it gets on the news that night and you get a bunch of calls from people who want to help the next day then that’s a measure of effectiveness.
As for the action in New York my feeling is that the inconvenience to people trying to do business at the consulate is a small matter when compared to what the Mexican government does everyday to its own people. And like you said the New York action was more about Brad’s killing and that’s OK. The protest here in LA probably would have happened even if Brad had not been killed. The Mexican consulate has been the site of protests before by Mexicans living in LA who are upset with their government.
There are protests planned at the consulate all week long. So there may be more reports to follow this one.