Ulises Ruiz y Alan Dershowitz contra la verdad
en Oaxaca y en Israel, respectivamente

Ulises Ruiz and Alan Dershowitz against the truth
in Oaxaca and in Israel, respectively

25 April 2007
by G.S.  <george.salzman@umb.edu>

this page is at http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/S2/2007-04-25.htm

      On 22 April I sent out an e-mail distribution with the subject as given above. It led to a lively exchange that I think is worth sharing because it is suggestive of how one-on-one trust may sometimes be built, of course with patience and some effort to communicate. First, the e-mail distribution, and then the correspondence.

Subject: Ulises Ruiz y Alan Dershowitz contra la verdad en Oaxaca y en Israel, respectivamente
Date: Sun, 22 Apr 2007 22:58:41 0500

Oaxaca, la cara del fascismo mexicano, el 22 de abril de 2007
Oaxaca, the face of Mexican fascism, the 22nd of April 2007

Primero, las noticias bueno por una c.e.
First, the good news by an e-mail

Fecha: 21 de abril de 2007 11:57:00 AM GMT-04:00
Asunto: Nace Radio Escopeta, Oaxaca no pierde la voz
Subject: Radio Shotgun is born, Oaxaca is not losing its voice

En México, durante las movilizaciones que en 2006 dieron vida a la Asamblea Popular de los Pueblos de Oaxaca, APPO, la ocupación que la gente hizo de los medios de comunicación fue clave en la lucha por terminar con la barbarie del gobernador Ulises Ruiz. Se trató de un ejercicio de soberanía ciudadana que permitió escuchar las voces de todas y todos.

Y entre la gente que tuvo la oportunidad de estar detrás de un micrófono, se encontraba la Dra. Bertha Muñoz, mejor conocida por su capacidad expresiva como la Dra. Escopeta. ...

In Mexico during the mobilizations that in 2006 gave life to the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca, APPO, the occupation of the communication media that the people carried out was key in the struggle to put an end to the barbarism of governor Ulises Ruiz. They attempted an exercise in citizen sovereignty that allowed listening to the voices of everyone.

And among the people who had the opportunity to be behind a microphone, they met Dr. Bertha Muñoz, better known because of her expressive capability as Dr. Shotgun. ...

Y pusimos nuestros espacio y nuestras manos al servicio de la Dra. En una alianza afectiva, que no conoce fronteras, en Ukhampacha Bolivia estamos trabajando para que muy pronto salga al aire por Internet Radio Escopeta (http://www.radioescopeta.org), y la Dra. Muñoz pueda restablecer su contacto con la gente. Porque, como nos cuenta desde esa clandestinidad forzada:

And we can put our space and our hands at the service of La Doctora. In an affectionate alliance that knows no frontiers, in [Radio] Ukhampacha Bolivia we are working to launch by internet, Radio Shotgun very soon (http:www.radioescopeta.org) so that Dr. Muñoz can reestablish her contact with the people. Because, as she tells us from her forced hiding.

The new website, Ukhampacha Bolivia, at http://www.ubnoticias.org/en or, en español a http://www.ubnoticias.org/es is well worth reading. Excellent articles.

      Since my last e-mail distribution, on 12 April, a new development surfaced in the effort to pressure DePaul University to fire Norman G. Finkelstein. I've posted two items dealing with it, namely

Dershowitz vs. Finkelstein IV, Beyond Dershowitz, institutionalized fraud , 18 April 2007
      I was surprised to get an e-mail announcing that I had endorsed a petition opposed to Norman G. Finkelstein's tenure, a total fraud. Mine was not the only name on the petition calling for non-interference in the DePaul University process considering tenure for Norman G. Finkelstein that was fraudulently placed on the petition opposing his tenure. Here's an update on this little episode, which isn't yet finished. . . . To see entire item, (htm).

and today,

Fraud by Anti-Finkelstein U.S.-based Jewish Mafia, Beyond Dershowitz, institutionalized fraud , 22 April 2007
    A really vicious campaign to pressure DePaul University to deny tenure to Norman G. Finkelstein is ongoing. It is employing multifacted lying, slander and fraud in the a priori illegitimate effort to intrude in the normal process of tenure consideration in order to have the university fire Finkelstein ... But Dershowitz, the notorious Jewish American Harvard law professor, is only one prominent part of the assault against truth. . . . To see entire item, (htm).

That was the e-mail message I distributed. Now the corespondence.

Subject: Re: Ulises Ruiz y Alan Dershowitz contra la verdad en Oaxaca y en Israel, respectivamente
From: Christine Gingrich de Mendez <mz.swing@excite.com>
Date: Mon, 23 Apr 2007 17:34:18 -0400
To: George Salzman <george.salzman@umb.edu>

You know, when I was listening to APPO radio, anyone with a dissenting opinion was cut off, called an idiot and ridiculed. Even if they agreed that URO should be ousted, but disagreed with the restriction of movement of citizens created by the APPO’s blockades.

My brother-in-law, who for his livelihood had to leave the boundaries of the city at night to make his runs to the land fill, was refused entry by angry and violent members of the APPO, just because he wanted to go home after a long day of work.  My family is by no means affluent. My mother-in-law sells tamales. My Brother-in-law is a garbage man.

The APPO did not give a voice to ‘everyone’ Only to those that agreed with them. I heard this. First hand, with my own ears.

I believe the government of Oaxaca is corrupt, but the APPO does not allow open debate much more than does the government. It is sad to see how events are twisted by both sides to present themselves in the best possible light.

Date: Mon, 23 Apr 2007 21:58:20 -0500
CC: Bertha Muñoz <escopeta@riseup.net>, Jean Friedman-Rudovsky <jean@ubnoticias.org>, Luís Gómez <luisgomez66@gmail.com>

Hello Christine,
      Thanks for your response to my e-mail with the information about Radio Escopeta. Instead of trying to answer it all myself, I think it’s best for me to send your comments to the folks who are setting up Radio Escopeta. La Doctora was of course at Radio Universidad and has some first-hand information.

      You make several points in your criticism, each of which deserves to be answered. I can easily believe that your brother-in-law had trouble at the barricades, which, as I understand, were put in place and run by neighborhood groups that were more or less autonomous. Of course the barricades would not have been set up in the first place if armed state agents were not acting (illegally in most instances) againt the people in the opposition to the government. The neighborhoods were, I think, acting in self protection. Still, your brother-in-law ought to have been treated decently. For now, I’ll not comment further.
Sincerely, and with best wishes,

P.S. If you wish I’d be glad to post your note to the OSAG listserv, or you can do it yourself if you join the list.

Date: Tue, 24 Apr 2007 10:24:12 -0400

The neighborhood groups may have been “Autonomous”, but the call to put the barricades into place was made on this same APPO radio. Their violent and angry behavior, of course, they are responsible for, but they were encouraged by speakers on APPO radio.

I am not saying there should be no resistance to military rule, but radio is a strong tool, and it could be used to educate participants about citizens’ rights. With the APPO in charge I did not feel safe in my own neighborhood. The neighborhood groups were BURNING TIRES on the corner outside my home (This is extremely toxic to breath, and there are children in my home, and everywhere in the neighborhood). If the APPO wants to be successful there should be a major shift to responsible resistance. (Think Gandhi)

I know it is hard to control large groups of people when they get excited, and I hope that the current direction is more effective then holding the city hostage. Occupation of the zócolo is the direct reason that illegal military action was taking place. The teachers and the APPO had no right to close down the city center, leaving their filth and graffiti on beautiful structures. I certainly hope they find better, more effective methods for making their point.

I am not living there now. I managed to get out in October the day before the soldiers came in, but I had to leave my husband there.

So, I guess my point is that this is not a black and white issue with the government cast as the bad guys and the APPO as the good guys. There are many shades of gray, and opinions that vary from these two groups.

Thank you for your answer.
Christine Gingrich de Mendez

Subject: On the perplexing question: How to struggle humanely and effectively?
Date: Tue, 24 Apr 2007 15:08:25 -0500
CC: Bertha Muñoz <escopeta@riseup.net>, Jean Friedman-Rudovsky <jean@ubnoticias.org>, Luís Gómez <luisgomez66@gmail.com>, Nancy Davies <nmsdavies@gmail.com>

Hi Christine,

      I'm sharing this reply because I think the issues raised by your last note are of interest to all of us. I’ll also forward your first note to Nancy, mi compañera, to bring her up to date. Here's your note from this morning: [previous message included here, for Nancy]

      When we write, and it is trivial but true for each of us, we frame our statements within our own conception of reality. Generally (unless we're boring professional philosophers) the set of assumptions that make up our understanding of reality are left unstated. As I read both your notes I was struck by two things: First, you’re down to earth, writing of first-hand experiences, and I can trust your account of what you saw and heard; in a word, you’re honest. No lying. No bullshit. Second, your opinions (about who is at fault, etc.) are very different than mine because we have conflicting ideas of the reality of the world we’re living in.

      Assuming we are both honest people who want very much the same things in our lives, i.e. we are not unalterably opposed to one another, then the question is: How can we resolve the differences in our viewpoints? Obviously no one is perfect, and each of us has a lot to learn. I’m guessing that the main reason we are both here is that we are strongly attracted to the people of Oaxaca, the ordinary people that we interact with in our everyday lives. You married into a family you termed ‘by no means affluent’. By their standards, they would most likely consider me ‘very affluent’, although by U.S. standards I’m probably only ‘moderately well to do’.

      But I don’t judge myself by ‘U.S. standards’. I see myself as one of the small percentage of the world’s people who is very privileged. By which I mean: I can use a credit card to fly anywhere in the world, whenever I wish, up to a limited number of trips annually, of course; I have not been hungry, seriously hungry, a single day in my life; As a retired professor I can live more than comfortably on a pension. And so on. Most people in Mexico can’t even dream of a life of, in their eyes, such luxury, and Mexico is far from the world’s poorest country.

      What this means to me is that the world is a terribly unjust place. I see the system of global capitalism as the basic problem. Perhaps you disagree. I don’t know. For perhaps 35 years now I have been an anarchist. My faith is in people, ordinary everyday people like the ones you and I interact with here on a daily basis. People who carry out all the activities that make life meaningful, mostly humble people living lives of quiet dignity, enjoying the simple pleasures and suffering the familiar pains that every life entails.

      To say, as you do, that the social conflict here “is not a black and white issue with the government cast as the bad guys and the APPO as the good guys” is in my opinion a mistake. The government is clearly protecting the very privileged, the most wealthy and the most corrupt (also the federal government and the U.S. government), as do all governments. The APPO is struggling to change the status quo. Naturally it is not made up of angels, but I’d be willing to bet its adherents comprise a much larger percentage of decent honest hardworking people than those in it just to find their way to power and the opportunity to benefit from corruption. Unquestionably there have been, and surely continue to be efforts to infiltrate, buy off, control, and corrupt all the elements of the popular movement. My hope is that such efforts will not succeed.

      To see the workings of capitalism in its so-called advanced stage, a recent interview with the Indian writer Arundhati Roy is very useful. It’s at http://www.tehelka.com/story_main28.asp?filename=Ne310307Its_outright_CS.asp . I had not realized India was in such a terrifyingly dangerous state as she describes. In spite of my disagreement with some of your opinions, I would welcome the chance to talk with you face to face. It’s a lot easier than composing written responses to each other.

Sincerely, and with best wishes,

Date: Tue, 24 Apr 2007 18:22:18 -0400

      Thank you for your thoughtful response. I do not think that we disagree on much of anything, really, from what I read in your posts. I respect your dedication to promoting the interests of the oppressed.

      I am very aware of the Oaxacan government supporting the interests of the affluent and the corrupt, and while it may have been a mistake to say they were not “bad”, what I meant to say is that they are not the only “bad guys”. They may perhaps be the worst guys. I in no way defend them or any of the corrupt political machine components (mass media, business owners, capitalist foreign interest). I would perhaps call myself a global anarchist – community socialist. I am appalled by the unjust treatment of peoples for monetary gain for the few. I do not support the exploitation of foreign labor to increase the profits for corporate executives. I do not support the lack of global responsibility in the same companies who contaminate the waters and lands of third-world countries with no regulations to make them responsible for their actions. (But would global regulations be counter-anarchy?) I support and respect the work you are doing.

      So, as you pointed out, my opposition to a limited number (I agree with the vast majority of what you say) of the comments I read today comes from my experience and my love of Oaxaca, and particularly my specific love for my family there. I am seeking the fair representation of a variety of views. And while I know that some discomfort is expected in any revolution, I do believe there are ways to educate the revolutionaries to greatest effect with minimal damage. Taking advantage of control of the radio for public education is one of them. Largely the discourse presented on the radio was an embarrassment for their cause. Although they did a good job of exposing links between politicians, media and big business, I think that resource was sadly misused by narrow minded, violent, and unfocused speakers. My main complaint with APPO radio is the impeding of the rights of the rest of the community to voice a dissenting opinion, which is one of the exact complaints they have with the corrupt government (and the media it controls).

      I would say they might benefit from a strong leader, but I wonder if that would go against your anarchist grain?

      The world is becoming exponentially top heavy, and in the wisdom of Dr. Seuss’s “Yertle the Turtle”, we will surely collapse under our own weight when the foundation refuses to support the top. I imagine there are peaceful ways to withdrawal support, but honestly, beyond boycotting the offending businesses, renouncing blatant materialism, encouraging others to do the same, and similar acts of non-compliance, I do not have much of a plan myself.

      Thank you for taking on a role that you have. As my role makes itself clear to me, I will step in. It has been my goal to become bi-lingual and bi-cultural, and perhaps even “tri” or “quad” to assist in the global communication that must surely take place if we are to wrest control from the few greedy at the top and reclaim it for ourselves, the “Yertles” of the masses. Autonomy and self regulation for everyone!

      In truth, I think we are quite aligned, and a long face-to-face would result in a lot of “yes, yes, I agree” comments on both our parts. Where are you living now? Perhaps at some point in the future a chat could be arraigned.


Date: Wed, 25 Apr 2007 12:54:26 -0500

Hi Christine,

      I guess we’re pretty much on the same page with respect to the ‘big’ issues. I’ll let the questions about my anarchist beliefs, like where you wrote

      “. . . My main complaint with APPO radio is the impeding of the rights of the rest of the community to voice a dissenting opinion, which is one of the exact complaints they have with the corrupt government (and the media it controls).

      “I would say they might benefit from a strong leader, but I wonder if that would go against your anarchist grain?” wait until we have a chance to talk. From your phrase, “my love of Oaxaca, and particularly my specific love for my family there” I infer that right now you are not here in the city. Nancy and I live here, not too far from the downtown center. When you get back we might meet for a coffee or a meal to talk about things. I keep saying I need to become fluent in Spanish, but keep deferring to the pressure of the political–social struggle and putting off really studying the language.
      Would you have any objection to my making our correspondence public? I ask because I think it might be useful in stimulating other folks to try talking with people they seem at first to disagree with. ...
      I hope you’ll be able to return to your family before long. Once again, thanks for writing.

Date: Wed, 25 Apr 2007 14:38:27 -0400

      It would be fine with me to make everything public. ... I like the idea of stimulating debate.

      I am not in Oaxaca right now. I am just beginning my teaching career, after many years of US and world travel. I plan to teach Spanish for a few years (assuming I like it), then see what comes next. My husband was just granted his visa. He will pick it up on June 1st. He has never been to the US, and while ultimately we plan to return to Oaxaca (we have started to build an ecologically “responsible” home in Cuilapan) I want him to know my country, the good and the bad.

      Have you met Raul Herrera and Maria Rosa Astorga? They are very interesting artists with personal perspectives on the struggle in Oaxaca. Raul’s art is hung in Candela, and they can often be found dining there. If you have any interest is speaking with them, they both speak English. You can tell them you have been corresponding with Christine, Zoe’s mother, by way of introduction.

      I read the article you sent to me. I did not know much about the situation in India, but the unrest she describes sounds like too many scenarios in too many places in the world. I am at odds with myself. I hold a firm belief in non-violence; thinking that nothing is worth reducing myself to a violent being, preferring to passively die than to become what I abhor. Simultaneously I support the right of the people to defend themselves against injustice. And if I found my family slaughtered or tortured, I may find I have a new perspective regarding violence. My greatest hope is that we as human beings can evolve and remove ourselves from the cycle of violence by simply refusing to fuel the fire, but sadly, sometimes I think that is a naive belief.

      Are you planning to stay in Oaxaca always? If so, it is likely we will be there next Christmas break, or summer vacation. I think it would be wonderful for the four of us to enjoy a coffee and a debate one late morning.

All comments and criticisms are welcome.  <george.salzman@umb.edu>

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