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
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
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
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
ASESINADOS POLÍTICOS DE OAXACA, 2005 – 2006
Avila Salinas (Pinotepa), 27 septiembre
César Toimil Robert, 25
Benjamín Fernández, 25
Miguel Herrera Lara, 25
Erasmo Aguirre Viveros,
Ramírez (Huazolotitlán), 4 diciembre
Lucas Salvador Sánchez (Teojomulco),
Pedro Rosales Martínez (Teojomulco),
Rey Salvador Rodríguez (Teojomulco),
Moisés Cruz Sánchez (PRD),
Juan Guzmán Alvarez (MULT),
Macela Martínez López (MULT),
Andrés Martínez Juárez
(MULT), 7 junio
David Cruz, 14 agosto
Marcos García Tapia, 7
Andrés Santiago Cruz (de 35
años), 9 agosto
Pedro Martínez Martínez,
(de 70 años), 9 abril
Pablo Martínez Martínez (de
11 años), 9 abril
Aragón Pérez (desaparecido), 10 agosto
Santiago Sánchez (desaparecido), 10 agosto
Gabriel Ríos (desaparecido), 10 agosto
Mendoza González (desaparecido), 11 agosto
Colmenares, 10 agosto
Lorenzo San Pablo
Velásquez, 22 agosto
José Manuel Castro
Patiño, 2 octubre
Hernández Santiago, 2 octubre
Jaime René Calvo Aragón
(CCL), 7 octubre
Hernández, 14 octubre
Vásquez, 18 octubre
Bradley Roland Will,
Esteban Zurita López,
Emilio Alonso Fabián,
Eudoxia Olivera Díaz,
Jorge Alberto López
Bernal, 29 octubre
Fidel Sánchez García,
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
* * *
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
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
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!
* * *