Monday, October 30, 2006

Not sure what to say...

I have been following the news of the violence taking place in Oaxaca, Mexico. Perhaps not as closely as I should still as a place where I once protested and slept under the arches of the Governor's Palace with dozens of angry campesinos denouncing unfair detentions, it is a place that is near to my heart.
That is why the recent violence has left me unsure of what to say about the situation. According to Mexico Week in Review, the federal goverment has deployed military forces into the area to combat the violence, but this "help" comes weeks, months, even after the original attacks begun. MWR states, "The pretext for the deployment of federal police to Oaxaca was an outbreak of violence on Oct. 27 in which at least three people were killed and more than 23 wounded; one of the wounded died that night, according to some reports. In the morning of Oct. 27 APPO supporters stepped up their protests by blocking Oaxaca city's access to the highway to Mexico City and the road to the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. By 10am state police backed by PRI supporters had started violent attacks on protesters. A gang of hooded men tried to attack Radio Universidad, a pro-strike radio station at the local university, while there was shooting on the El Rosario bridge. Five simultaneous attacks on APPO barricades started at about 5 pm. In Santa Lucia del Camino, a municipality a few miles outside Oaxaca city, people began firing on the barricade from inside a house. APPO supporters backed a truck into the house to break down the door, but a group of men, many in red shirts, began firing on them. Oswaldo Ramirez, a photographer for the Mexico City daily Milenio, was grazed on the knee by a bullet while he was covering the incident; the armed men also fired on Raul Estrella, a photographer from the Mexico City daily El Universal but missed him. Brad Will, a freelance journalist and photographer who worked with the Indymedia Center in New York City, was hit twice in the abdomen as he videotaped the shooting. Strikers rushed him to a Red Cross hospital but was pronounced dead on arrival."
It is at the end where I pause, an American journalist killed?
I, like most of the people I know, live in the cyberworld. Knowing he will be interested and appalled I send this information to my partner who is out of the country. He replies at 2am Monday morning. Not only did he know this man from various political collaborations and activist circles in NYC, but I knew this young man.
And then it comes back to me, the baseball cap pushed down over red, unkempt hair. Skinny, tall, laughing over a plate of vegan friendly thai food...and I sit at my desk and cry.
I don't mean to suggest that the life of this man, by virtue of being a citizen of the most powerful country in the world, is more valuable than the many Mexican women and men who have lost their lives or live under the constant threat of death and violence.
All I am saying is that the violence is now at my front door. In my bedroom.
The question is what am I going to do about it?

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