A heartwarming victory for press freedom in Oaxaca
but don't overcelebrate, the struggle isn’t over
14 March 2007

this page is at http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/S2/2007-03-14.htm

Subject: Response to Monday's note: Heartwarming news from Oaxaca. And some more info
From: George Salzman <george.salzman@umb.edu>
Date: Wed, 14 Mar 2007 00:19:08 -0600
BCC: Entire e-mail list

Oaxaca, la cara del fascismo mexicano, 13 de narzo de 2007
Oaxaca, the face of Mexican fascism, 13 March 2007

      It is amazing to me to experience the steady rise of optimism of many people here that the popular struggle to change Oaxaca in a deep way will succeed. The struggle of the newspaper Noticias that I told a bit about, and its editorial were obviously inadequate to give much more than the pleasure of knowing the paper wasn't destroyed. I want to tell a little more, but first the correspondance that came today:

Subject: Re: Heartwarming news from Oaxaca
From: Kevin Murray <murray.kevin@verizon.net>
Date: Tue, 13 Mar 2007 03:09:14 -0700 (PDT)

Thanks, George. This does, however, need more background for anyone not intimately familiar with what has happened with the paper. What was the "huelga ficticia"(ficticious strike) Was the paper forced to publish from different locations because of government action? or was there an actual strike by some of the workers who were somehow connected to the state gov't?
Date: Tue, 13 Mar 2007 11:11:31 -0600

Yes, Kevin, you're correct. I appreciate the need not to assume that people know more than is likely the case. Admittedly, I worked on the translation until fairly late, got a bit of help from Nancy just before she went to bed, and was eager to get out some good news (for a change!). The fact is that this is a fabulous story, which I'd really love to write. I've become sort of friendly (I think they tolerate this eager gringo whose Spanglish isn't great) with two of the people on the paper. One is the reporter Pedro Matias. I think I might have included you with folks I wrote about something on non-violent struggle where I asked for permission to identify individuals [note added 14 Mar: I was mixing up two different threads of thought here. The correspondence on my mind was with George Lakey, about his advocacy of non-violent but militant, aggressive civil disobedience. It did not deal explicitly with Pedro Matias, though Matias' testimony certainly makes clear who are the perpetrators of violence in the Oaxaca conflict], but if not you can see it at:

Pedro Matias testifies on state violence
Then there were tanks and then bullets

20 December 2006
by G.S.  <george.salzman@umb.edu>

this page is at http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/Strate/2006-12-20.htm

This is not about the newspaper, but about his personal experiences the night of November 25-26. The other person is the Editor-in-Chief, Ismael Sanmartin, who I met about a week and a half or so ago when he spoke at a workshop on Communication and Society. No history of the struggle has yet been written. When I asked Pedro about it, he said they had been too busy with other things. That's an understatement, and they're in there every day documenting the ongoing struggles throughout the state. If I had enough nerve I'd tackle it in spite of my limited ability to understand Spanish. And I know these folks would be glad to cooperate in providing information.
      Thanks very much for writing and pointing out the shortcoming. I'll give more info in another mailing to my list.

From: Albert Couch <bertcouch@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, 13 Mar 2007 09:18:13 -0400

I will pass it along to some folks who might help make a difference....

From: X and Y <------@hotmail.com>
Date: Tue, 13 Mar 2007 10:11:40 -0600

Thank you for the report on Noticias -- You give us heart.
And Nancy, thanks for the article on the Women's Day March --You give us balls.
(this is X [or Y] of X and Y).  I am working with ------ on a leaflet for TUPA
(Transmitters Uniting the Peoples of the Americas, which you can Google) right now, & it was good to hear your voices in the midst of all the gloom)
      Up the revolution  X [or Y]

From: Marlene Santoyo marlsan@cavtel.net>
Date: Tue, 13 Mar 2007 13:28:58 -0400

Ah - so good to read of this spirit of independence & truthful and critical editorial policy.
Many thanks, my friend George.
Marlena Santoyo
[mailing address and telephone omitted]
Harry Belafonte said, "The essential difference between then and now is that no previous regime tried to subvert the Constitution. They may have done illegal acts. They may have gone outside the law to do these, but they did them clandestinely. No one stepped to the table as arrogantly as George W. Bush and his friends have done and said, 'We legally want to suspend the rights of citizens, the right to surveil, the right to read your mail, the right to arrest you without charge.' " His criticism is not limited to Bush (whom he called, while visiting President Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, "the greatest terrorist in the world").
--Amy Goodman

Subject: Re: Sharing a letter of thanks from some of the threatened defenders of human rights in Oaxaca
From: XX <------@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, 13 Mar 2007 13:54:32 -0600

dear george, i thank you for keeping me uptodate.......but since i live in oaxaca permanently, i have been afraid to jeopardize my  living situation here by directly writing letters....which , of course would contain my email address and could be checked with my FM3 (FM3 is a visa issued to foreigners, valid for one year, renewable. --G.S.)
i do forward your info to some of my friends, to widen the information pool.
is there anything else you can suggest which would be safe for me to do?
best wishes, and many thank you's to you and nancy

Date: Tue, 13 Mar 2007 16:56:57 -0600
To: XX <------@gmail.com>

      Thank you very much for taking the trouble to let me know that what I'm doing is useful. I wonder from time to time. My immediate thought is that you could open an e-mail account under a pseudonym (I'm assuming that you used your real name in writing me). Although in the past I've expressed my preference for knowing who people "really are", because I'm old-fashioned and like to know peoples' names, in fact we do get to know who people "really are" when we read what they write. There are in fact (I know) some people who write on the OSAG (Oxaca Study-Action Group) list under pseudonyms and whose stuff is well worth reading.
      As for other things you might do, things that would not risk your living situation here, I'm very hesitant to say, because I do not know the level of your concern. I know people here like us who don't want to be deported but who, in my judgment, are taking more risks than either Nancy or I would be comfortable with. It's a very personal matter. I just did a search for postings to OSAG by you and found nothing. One thing you might consider that I think involves practically zero risk is to do some translating (as I've been trying to do) and posting it under a pseudonym with a new e-mail account. If your Spanish is pretty good, that could be a great help.

      For a brief introduction to the background of the bitter state government effort to destroy Noticias, see the article "Newspaper-government feud turns violent in Oaxaca", at http://www.geocities.com/jonclark500/noticias.html . It was originally published in the Mexico edition of The Miami Herald on 11 December 2004. From what I know thus far, it appears to me that the article is probably quite accurate. Certainly in portraying the Oaxaca State government's mode of operation, as an institutionalized mafia in which the Institutional Revolutionary Party (Partido Revolucionario Institucional, PRI) controls almost every aspect of the state's economic and social life, as it has for about eighty years, the article is accurate.
      Kevin asked, What was the "huelga ficticia"(ficticious strike)? Was the paper forced to publish from different locations because of government action? or was there an actual strike by some of the workers who were somehow connected to the state gov't?
      The so-called labor dispute was in fact fraudulent. The persons "on strike" were not employees of Noticias. They belonged to the National Confederation of Popular Organizations in Oaxaca (Confederación Nacional de Organizaciones Populares en Oaxaca, CNOP). By order of the governor, relayed through his PRI subordinates, they simulated a labor strike in which they at first blockaded the newspaper's building (for 31 days), and then invaded it, beat up the employees and held the building for, if I remember correctly, something like a year and a half.
      The newspaper rented spaces elsewhere (I think in Oaxaca City), had the paper printed out of state and flown in daily. There was plenty of high (really low) drama in this operation because state operatives tried to intercept the delivery vehicles and destroy the papers. They went so far as to actually burn the news-stands of some of the vendors because they were selling Noticias. I have to learn a lot more about the saga of Noticias, so for the moment I'll leave it at that.
All comments and criticisms are welcome.    <george.salzman@umb.edu>

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Last update of this page: 14 March 2007