Oaxaca, Mexico

July 23 - 30, 2007










The annual July festival

of the Guelaguetza dance

extraveganza in Oaxaca

is imploding before our

very eyes. ...













In May, I wrote to a friend:

Dear _____,


            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.
            To encourage 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. 
            Though you know I would love to see you again, I cannot do it.
Your friend, Bill Wolf

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 *  *  *


            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:







*  *  *


            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 demonstrators.




            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 Merino Cruz.












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

August, 2007

Oaxaca, Mexico


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