of the Guelaguetza dance
extraveganza in Oaxaca
is imploding before our
very eyes. ...
In May, I wrote to a friend:
So, are your thinking of bringing a group down? When? Certainly the
hotels and restaurants (ALL businesses, really) are trying to convince
everybody that Oaxaca has returned to normal and everything is just
wonderful here. Lots of money is being spent to bring music into the
zócalo, parades through the streets and colorful banners proclaiming
“Oaxaca is dressed up for a party!”
The true lies
elsewhere, I must say. The locals stay in their homes and the situation
is tense. The same government who killed 56 opposition members last
year is still in power and a horrid sense of injustice prevails. There
are police everywhere and the slightest hint of a protest can bring them
out by the hundreds. The zócalo can be sealed at a moment’s notice.
Restaurants are empty, “For Rent” signs proliferate and, I recently read,
over 400 businesses in the city center have closed.
people to visit Oaxaca at this time is to condone the criminal regime of
Ulises Ruiz and the enabling Federal military officials. It is to
betray the many assassinated, the over 100 “disappeareds,” and the
dozens still held in high-security prisons throughout Mexico.
know I would love to see you again, I cannot do it.
Your friend, Bill Wolf
* * *
* * *
In protest of the commercial Guelaguetza by Ulises Ruiz, the people's
movement of Oaxaca had planned a "people's" Guelaguetza, scheduled for
the week before on Monday, July 16.
Our theater company, Teatro Vivo, contributed a "performance/installation"
in the zócalo two days before, called "Arte en Resistencia" (SEE: "Time-Line").
It was a great event and included a striking poster. Across the bottom they printed what
would become the theme of the whole month:
OAXACA IS NOT IN
FIESTA …IT IS IN MOURNING
* * *
All day Sunday, thousands of state and federal police arrived on the
mountain of the Guelaguetza in the center of the city, ringing the
auditorium to prevent the people’s Guelaguetza from taking place.
On Monday, the government struck back!
You’ve seen coverage and photos of this event. It’s not the kind of
thing I save. As thousands of movement supporters climbed the mountain
to the auditorium, the police opened fire with tear-gas and pellets,
descending the mountains with billy clubs, beating and arresting the
Some sixty were injured, of those nineteen are in the hospital.
Over forty were arrested.
Tear gas filled the streets. That Monday afternoon a full nine
hundred hotel reservations were cancelled. The head of the hotel union called it a
“tiro de gracias” to the tourist industry.
A guest, checking out of his hotel, was quoted in the press the
following day, “Guess when I’m coming back to Oaxaca? NEVER!”
* * *
On Tuesday, the news media (and I) followed with horror the treatment of
the detainees, especially one, below, a 51-year-old engineer, Emeterio
He was taken to the hospital where he
is now in a coma, under arrest.
The newspaper NOTICIAS ran the above photos with their blue arrows
indicating his distinctive shirt collar, after state officials attempted
to deny it was the same person.
* * *
Several days later the family were able to visit the hospital and
confirm that Emeterio had not regained consciousness, below, July 25.
Nearly two weeks later, the police reported there was no evidence of
mistreatment by their forces and suggested that Emeterio's condition was
"self-inflicted" to lay blame on the government of Ulises Ruiz.
Below, from Mexico City's LA JORNADA, August 8, he remains in a coma.
In the most recent photo, Emeterio has regained consciousness, below,
August 25, 2007.
A few days later, on the 29 of August, Emeterio was released from the
hospital and taken home to his family.
He still cannot speak or sit up by himself, another casualty of Ulises
Ruiz' commercial Guelaguetza.
- Bill Wolf
* * *