A general loss of fear, an
e-mail to my entire “large” list
by G.S.  <george.salzman@umb.edu>

11 September 2006

this page is at http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/Strate/2006-09-11.htm

A heady atmosphere, have no fear
Come visit Oaxaca, sense the joy of hope
Sense the courage in their hearts
Sense the constructive energy
Sense the poetry of revolution
Sense the legacy of Pablo Neruda

Monday, 11 September 2006


      It is far easier to catch the spirit of the people during these now-peaceful days and nights than to keep track of the multiple details of the struggle as it progresses throughout the state of Oaxaca, and increasingly, in other parts of Mexico. As I stepped out yesterday morning to go to the Sanchez Pasques market a block away to buy our usual Sunday morning tamales, bright early sunlight on my back, Colorado-blue sky above, a few men and women on our quiet street, Callejón del Carmen, on their way to and from the market, it all said softly, “This may not be heaven but it’s about as close as you can get.” The market was bustling as usual. I bought yoghurt with small chunks of fresh fruits from Simon, Josefina and their son Luís, a couple of fresh pan amarillo - rolls with a good crust and a tenacious, non-crumbly interior, two tamales de mole, and the day’s Noticias, the sole decent local daily newspaper.

      It was only three weeks since August 21, but in this short time a great deal had changed since I wrote that day:

Government in Panic as Popular Movement spreads and solidifies,
Attacks on media of communication,
Terrified at wide-ranging sources of honest information

      In the early hours of this morning state forces – likely exclusively or including paramilitary thugs – i.e. uniformed- and/or un-uniformed-state-paid 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 (la Asamblea Popular del Pueblo de Oaxaca, APPO) is quite clearly terrifying the ruling class. Those running the so-called “Constitutional Governments, Federal and State” without a doubt know 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.

Visit to the TV transmission tower security detachment

      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 Cerro Fortin (Fortin Hill). That’s where the transmission tower of televison 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 ofices 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 FM 96.9 had gone off the air a short time ago. FM 96.9 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 – of course – 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 maestros 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 (false) sense of confidence among the teachers

      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).

      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) Yahoo groups site at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/oaxacastudyactiongroup/

      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. The danger of a large scale military assault hangs over this incipient revolution-in-progress.

      My most recent postings, which contain links to sources of information, are:

Building a Oaxaca information and solidarity communication network, 9 September 2006, at

In Oaxaca the Revolution isn’t just schlepping along, it’s in full-tilt, 3 September 2006, at

Incipient Revolution in Oaxaca, 29 August 2006, at
and an earlier, text-only version of this paper,

From Teachers’ Strike Towards Dual Power: The Revolutionary Surge in Oaxaca, at

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

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