<i>"The Name of Our Country is América" - Simon Bolivar</i> The Narco News Bulletin<br><small>Reporting on the War on Drugs and Democracy from Latin America
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State Forces Attack the Popular Media in Oaxaca

As the Popular Movement Spreads and Solidifies, the Government is in Panic


By George Salzman
Special to The Narco News Bulletin

August 21, 2006

In the early hours of this morning state forces – likely exclusively or at least including non-uniformed paramilitary thugs – attacked the cerebral cortex of the Oaxaca Peoples’ Revolution. The peoples’ media were targeted, and other media, privately owned but supportive of the movement were on the government’s hit list. The growing strength of the Popular Assembly of the People of Oaxaca (APPO in its Spanish initials) is quite clearly terrifying the ruling class. Those running the so-called “constitutional governments, federal and state” without a doubt know of the thorough disgust and anger of the Mexican people with their sordid dictatorship for the better part of a century. Their fear (I hope well-founded) that their impunity may be coming to an end – that they may be called to answer to a governmental structure run by ordinary humble people – has panicked them.

A communiqué was released this morning by the APPO. It read, in part:

The aggression against the Oaxacan people continues. Today, between 3:00 and 4:00 in the morning, the Channel 9 facilities were completely destroyed by a group of armed paramilitaries riding in five trucks. They entered shooting directly at the people who were guarding the facilities, causing them to retreat and thus burning the broadcasting equipment. Compañero and teacher Sergio Vale Jiménez, 48, was injured. At the moment three compañeros are missing. Three urban transport vehicles were also burned outside of the Channel 9 building.


Photo: D.R. 2006 George Salzman
Yesterday, for the fourth time since I got back to this determined, almost exuberant hotbed of revolutionary fervor, I made my daily pilgrimage to the top of Fortin Hill. That’s where the transmission tower of Channel 9, which the “Women with Pantaletes,” (i.e. women with panties, the gender counterpart of “Men with Pantalones,” – signifying men with balls) seized control of the state television and radio offices about two and a half weeks ago.

The road to the summit has been blockaded with seized buses, barbed wire, rocks across the road, and a rotating group of teachers who maintained a 24-hour-a-day security encampment to guard the tower. When I arrived at their camp, perhaps about 7:30 pm, I told them that 96.9 FM had gone off the air a short time ago. 96.9 FM is the powerful radio station that is part of the seized state TV and radio complex. The teachers were confident it would be back on by the next day (today). But it is still not broadcasting at 11:30 am Monday.

Fear in the Hearts of the Humble

At the start of the road that runs from the plaza at the front of the Guelaguetza stadium a familiar face greeted me – an indigenous woman vendor, but without her customary broad, shallow basket of candy, cigarettes, etc. balanced atop her sturdy head. We saw one another almost daily during the past year, when I did my usual “constitutional” climb to the observatory and the planetarium at the top. She asked me if I was going to the summit, and when I affirmed I was, she asked if she could accompany me. Claro que sí I responded, and we set out together.

She told me she hadn’t gone since about three months ago, because she was fearful. Instead of her usual broad basket she now had only a small basket with a handle that she held beside her. Sales way down. We trudged past the piles of rocks, made our way around the buses blocking the road, and the barbed wire, up to the transmitting tower. A couple of teachers bought single Marlboros from her package as another of them spoke to me disapprovingly of smoking. As I was talking with the teachers we suddenly realized the vendor had disappeared, apparently so fearful that she wanted to retreat to the plaza below, and was already out of sight along the road down.

A Sense of Confidence Among the Teachers


The Jovial Terrorists
Photo: D.R. 2006 George Salzman
I asked permission to photograph the encampment and they were all delighted, insistent that they pose for me in front of the fence around the transmission tower, on which there was a large message posted: Fuera Ulises (“Ulises Out!”). Laughingly, they assumed pseudo-fearsome stances with poles, iron rods, raised left fists, a machete, and the laziest “attack” dog you could imagine (they couldn’t get the dog to pose). One woman grabbed my sombrero to wear for the picture. Then they wanted me to join them; I handed the camera to a compañero, the woman plastered the sombrero back on my head (crooked, not very dignified) and they tried to get me to hold a pole, but I refused. So I have pictures of “los jovial
 terroristas” (“the jovial terrorists”).

There were attacks during the early hours today. I’m going out to get some more pictures, will report again later. The most up-to-the-minute English language source of information about events here that I know of is the Oaxaca Study-Action Group (OSAG) site. I urge everyone to spread the information as widely as possible. I believe it was only the extremely well-organized information network which, by generating international awareness of the attacks against the Zapatistas in Chiapas, “forced” Presidents Salinas de Gortari in 1994 and Ernesto Zedillo in 1995 to call off their attempts to crush the Zapatista movement with the Federal Army. Now, the danger of a large-scale military assault hangs over this incipient revolution-in-progress.

Click here for more news from the Oaxaca revolution

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The Narco News Bulletin: Reporting on the Drug War and Democracy from Latin America