By Teatro Vivo de Oaxaca, A.C.

Atrium of the Basilica of Santo Domingo

Oaxaca, Mexico, November 1 - 2, 2006



From “The Memoirs, Volume Two” :



On October 5, 2006, Oaxaca saw the most cynical of the killings to date:  a teacher, Jaime René Calvo Aragón, was a part of an “alternative” group of teachers supporting the governor and was on his way to one of their meetings near the crossroads of Cinco Señores and the University, an area that’s had a lot of violence recently.  He was gunned down by government thugs who painted APPO slogans on the walls to make it look like the teachers had done it.

Ulises Ruiz had killed one of his own supporters for nothing more than the small pleasure of trying to make the teachers look bad.


The city was aghast.


*  *  *


A few days later Sergio came over and we had a nice talk.  We’re going to be doing the big “Day of the Dead Altar” in the zócalo next week, like we’ve done many times in the past.  He said that CEDART, the arts high school where he works, is in charge, collaborating with the APPO and the teachers’ movement in the zócalo.  I did some sketches of a gun spilling out blood.  He liked it.



We’re planning to build a large handgun and suspend it over dozens of corpses rising from their graves.







*  *  *


On Friday, the 27, a U.S.  reporter, Bradley Will, was killed, along with four protesters.  U.S. papers, of course, reported “an American” killed, in Oaxaca. 


It was not lost on the Mexican people that it took this incident for President Fox to finally order in Federal troupes.  All day Saturday they traveled to Oaxaca.


The newspapers printed a grainy photo of the shooter of Bradley Will.  I would use his pistol as model for our altar.





We began constructing the frame of the pistol out of cardboard, about 10 feet long.





*  *  *


Sunday, 29 of October, was one of our darkest days, federal troupes attacked the zócalo.


By 9:45 in the morning, helicopters are circling the city.  There would be many, all day.  Heavy black smoke is rising from the south; it looks like Las Casa and J.P. García Streets.  Lots of mirrors are flashing on the hillsides whenever the helicopters go over.  A defiant action by the populace.


At 2:35 in the afternoon, lots of dark smoke was rising from the zócalo, the Trujano side was black.  Chucho and I walked to the studio to check on things but didn’t feel like staying long.  There were noises, yelling, horns.  I would hear later that this was when the federal soldiers were entering the zócalo.


At around 3:20, the Radio Universidad is talking of trying to “recapture” the zócalo.


At 4:30, from the house, I can watch the biggest fire yet in the very corner of the zócalo.  I thought it might be the post office.  It wasn’t.  It would later be seen to be two buses side by side.


*  *  *


Monday, 30 of October.


By 6:15, the sun is up, the city is very quiet.  Radio Universidad is back on the air.


They announce that federal troupes are holding the zócalo while the university is being held by APPO as well as many barricades and entrances to the city.


I went on to the studio and straightened up the patio a bit where we had been doing our papier maché.  Soldiers everywhere.


I called Sergio.  Obviously the altar is off.  He said he’s going to Radio Universidad to see what he can learn.


I put a tarp over the big, beautiful pistol we were making and came home.  There were lots of people on the street.  First black smoke of the day, from south of the zócalo.


At 4:30, Sergio called me at home.  The altar is back on, but now in the plaza Santo Domingo, which is being held by APPO.  He said he had arranged for us to deliver the altar tomorrow afternoon, Tuesday, around five.  I said fine.


I called Chucho and he accompanied me to the studio.  We wanted to check that everything is ready for tomorrow.  On the way we passed by Santo Domingo to check out the sight.


Big fires burning, one in front of the theater Alcalá, another on Trujano which we can observe from Guerrero as we pass.


A solid flank of soldiers with shields on each street around the zócalo.


At the studio, Chucho did a great job of straightening up.  I called Sergio’s cel phone, and he said he was still at Radio Universidad.  I said please greet Doctora Bertha and that I was going home.  He said fine, talk to you early tomorrow.


*  *  *


On Tuesday, the 31 of October, I called Chucho at 8:45 in the morning.  He came over and we went to the studio where he gave the big pistol a final coat of varnish.  I called Sergio, he came over shortly.


It was a huge day of work.  We were Carlos, Joaquín, Noé, Chucho, Sergio and I.  We were planning to take it all over to be installed at around 4 or 5 in the afternoon.


The corpses and the gravestones were looking great.  We printed out name tags for each of the 56 dead.





We were frantically trying to finish everything up and it was all looking real good, but the day was getting late.


Then, Sergio said he would go over to the site and pretty soon he came back reporting that he has transport for the altar tomorrow morning.  Thank goodness!  We had an extra evening to finish it all up.


I sent Chucho on home, while Carlos, Joaquín and I finished painting the big red sign which we had modeled on the Ulises government slogan, something like "GIVING OUR FACE TO THE NATION," or such, and then we went home a little after dark. 




*  *  *


Wednesday, November 1, Chucho and I went early to the studio.  Carlos came early and Joaquín, then Sergio.  The people from APPO showed up about 9:30 and everybody (except me) walked the bases of the gravestones over to Santo Domingo, then came back for the pistol.  Well, the truck hadn’t shown up yet for the pistol, so Chucho walked out to the front and hired one.  They left with everything.  I walked over a bit later and saw that everything was just great.


The guys were handing out a great flier we had printed of the names of the assassinated.  The altar looked great and it was all very moving.






Guadalupe Avila Salinas (Pinotepa), 27 septiembre

César Toimil Robert, 25 noviembre

Benjamín Fernández, 25 noviembre

Miguel Herrera Lara, 25 noviembre

Erasmo Aguirre Viveros, 25 noviembre

Marcelino Sánchez Ramírez (Huazolotitlán), 4 diciembre

Lucas Salvador Sánchez (Teojomulco), 13 abril

Pedro Rosales Martínez (Teojomulco), 13 abril

Rey Salvador Rodríguez (Teojomulco), 13 abril

Moisés Cruz Sánchez (PRD), 18 mayo

Juan Guzmán Alvarez (MULT), 27 mayo

Macela Martínez López (MULT), 27 mayo

Andrés Martínez Juárez (MULT), 7 junio

David Cruz, 14 agosto

Marcos García Tapia, 7 agosto

Andrés Santiago Cruz (de 35 años), 9 agosto

Pedro Martínez Martínez, (de 70 años), 9 abril

Pablo Martínez Martínez (de 11 años), 9 abril

Ramiro Aragón Pérez (desaparecido), 10 agosto

Elinoai Santiago Sánchez (desaparecido), 10 agosto

Juan Gabriel Ríos (desaparecido), 10 agosto

Erangelio Mendoza González (desaparecido), 11 agosto

José Jiménez Colmenares, 10 agosto

Lorenzo San Pablo Velásquez, 22 agosto

José Manuel Castro Patiño, 2 octubre

Arcadia Fabián Hernández Santiago, 2 octubre

Jaime René Calvo Aragón (CCL), 7 octubre

Alejandro García Hernández, 14 octubre

Pánfilo Hernández Vásquez, 18 octubre

Bradley  Roland Will, 27 octubre

Esteban Zurita López, 27 octubre

Emilio Alonso Fabián, 27 octubre

Eudoxia Olivera Díaz, 27 octubre

Jorge Alberto López Bernal, 29 octubre

Fidel Sánchez García, 29 octubre




That afternoon, helicopters overhead.


That evening I walked over and saw that the altar had become a stage (!) and there was music and speeches and performances and a huge crowd gathered around until late.  We had lit it well.


*  *  *


Thursday, November 2, another dark day, federal troupes attacked the university.


Sergio called early to ask if I had been by the altar to see if it was still all there.  I called Chucho, who ran over to Santo Domingo to check and then came to the house reporting that all was fine.  I called Sergio.  We said see you later. 


I went to the studio and cleaned up a bit.  Helicopters overhead.  I went for the newspapers to Las Casas.  The streets were very crowded with people.  On the way an enormous caravan of some twenty or more troupe trucks and tanks were leaving the zóclao headed south.  I knew they were going to the university.  I heard several people on the street commenting the same.


Back at the studio, I turned on the radio and listened to Dra. Bertha calling for help to reinforce the Radio Universidad.  I turned it off.  I was getting nervous and decided to take off.  It was noon.


I walked by the altar where I found Stan and Diana standing in front.  Diana was taking pictures.  I thanked her.





Back at the house I can see at least six fires burning in the city.  Three are big, black smoke, indicating vehicles.  Overhead helicopters were flying in circles.  Sounds of explosions.  The Radio Universidad was reporting that the federal soldiers were attacking the university.


At 1:30, another big, black smoke.


At 4:30, Sergio called from his house.  He had just gotten back from the university, where he said it was very bad, fighting and tear gas in Cinco Señores, the neighborhood which buts up against the Radio Universidad.


Feeling antsy, I walked again to Santo Domingo where Sergio and the gang were sitting with the altar.  He said the battle at the university was horrid, but that in the end the protesters were excited and dancing and singing.  He said it was very inspirational, the people very determined.  He also said he heard there were negotiations to remove the federal forces.  They would later call it “redeployment.”


I walked on down the block where I encountered Miriam and a friend staring at the troupes and tanks positioned around the zócalo.  I thanked her for her concerned message on my phone the day before.  She had also been in the fighting in the university and said many people were “bloodied.”  It was horrid, she said.  I mentioned I was listening to my friend, Dra. Bertha Elena, on the radio.  Miriam said, Oh, she’s a real “chingona!”


*  *  *


That day both local newspapers ran photos of our altar.  We expected it from NOTICIAS, of course, below.




But it was a big surprised to get a photo in EL IMPARCIAL, generally considered the government's mouthpiece.  When my great worker, Chucho, saw it, he inmediately recognized himself in the picture and was proud to let us know it was the first time he's ever had his picture in the paper!  The little black head in the lower left corner is him, hammering up the front banner.  Congratulations, Chucho! 




*  *  *