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November 25, 2012 marks the sixth anniversary of the bloody attack by the Federal Preventive Police on the teachers and members of the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO) in the zócalo of the city of Oaxaca.  I wasn’t here during the 5-month long struggle, but its repercussions continue to reverberate.

Plaque "Plaza de los pueblos en lucha." "por la verdad y la justicia" Oaxaca, 25 - noviembre - 2011

Last year a plaque was unveiled by organizations representing victims, survivors, human rights, and social activists.  Located where the Alameda de León meets the zócalo, it symbolically renames the zócalo, “Plaza of the peoples in struggle; for truth and justice.”

Man with cap looking at photos

Truth and justice have not been attained, assassins go unpunished, many of the same issues remain, and Oaxaca’s economy still hasn’t rebounded.  Today, the Survivors and Former Political Prisoners of Oaxaca in Defense of Human Rights (SEPODDH) mounted a photo exhibition across from the Government Palace.

Women looking at photos, with a basket of sliced bread on her head.

Adults, children, and even vendors stopped to look and, for many, remember those days and nights six years ago.

Crowd of people looking at photos

Somber and unsmiling, they stood silently, gazed at the photos, and read the captions.  The only hint of levity was SEPODDH’s mascota, who sat beside a collection bucket.

Plush monkey wearing bandana across his face.

Section 22 of the teachers’ union held another march and rallied in the zócalo, but today these photos spoke much louder than the words coming from the loud-speakers.

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It’s been almost 6 years since the October 27, 2006 day in Oaxaca when Indymedia video journalist, Brad Will, was murdered as he was filming a confrontation between APPO (Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca) and paramilitary forces affiliated with then governor, Ulises Ruiz Ortiz, during the (at that point) 5-month long teachers’ strike.

Mexico catches suspect in death of a journalist Bradley Will

By Mark Stevenson / AP Wednesday, May 23, 2012. 1 day ago

MEXICO CITY (AP)‚ — Prosecutors in southern Mexico say they have captured a man suspected in the killing of a U.S. journalist Bradley Will during protests against the Oaxaca state government in 2006.

A spokesman for the Oaxaca state prosecutors office says suspect Lenin Osorio was captured early Wednesday.

The spokesman says he is not authorized to be quoted by name, and that he does not know which side of the conflict the suspect was on.

Bradley roland will Mexico catches suspect in death of a journalist Bradley Will

Will was shot as he videotaped a clash between protesters and government supporters.

The New York man was covering the conflict for Indymedia.org. He sympathized with the protesters, one of whom was arrested in 2008 for the killing but was later released.

The protests started as a teachers’ strike and paralyzed Oaxaca’s capital for months until federal police intervened.

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As I write, journalists are being targeted all over the world and the teachers are again occupying Oaxaca’s zócalo, as they have every year since.  However, perhaps there will be justice for one of the 26, 2006 murder victims.  Vamos a ver….

The Revolution Next Door is a video tribute to Brad Will and includes footage shot by him, including his last tape.

To follow this news on Twitter, The Friends of Brad Will website lists the following Spanish language sites:

Oaxaca journo on the scene’s twitter feed:
https://twitter.com/#!/Jorgeopl

PGJE in Oaxaca’s feed:
https://twitter.com/#!/pgje_oaxaca

http://twitcasting.tv/Jorgeopl

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After a delightful but whirlwind (6 days is too short) visit, my stepson and his wife have come and gone; this year’s Guelaguetza festivities are over; life at Casita Colibrí is gradually resuming a more leisurely rhythm; and our current historic rain has gone on hiatus.  A quiet solo Sunday morning walk beckoned, as did the APPO banners, strung along the arches of the Palacio de Gobierno, that I wanted to photograph.

Oaxaca se levanta

The banners are a work of art, but ephemeral — here today, gone tomorrow — and I never seem to have my camera with me when I come across them.

"Respeto a la autonomia de San Juan Copala"

And, more importantly, they are a graphic reminder that behind the vitality, beauty, and quaint cosmetics of “new” cobblestone streets of this UNESCO World Heritage Site facade, class warfare lurks in the shadows.

Oaxaca’s contradictions are mine.  I turn the corner and walk over to puesto 80 at Mercado Juárez to see if they’ve gotten in the chocolate covered coffee beans.  No, maybe tomorrow…  I stop by the temporary pocket market in front of the Jesuit church on the corner and satisfy my sweet tooth by buying a bag of melt-in-your-mouth Merengue Sabor Cafe, instead.

The Zócalo has awakened during my 45 minutes of shopping; young and old strolling arm-in-arm, vendors selling their wares, shoes being shined, outside tables occupied with diners chatting or simple watching the scene before them.

People strolling; vendors selling

And, there is music — always, there is music — today an orchestra has set up under the laurels for the final day of the Festival Nacional de Danzón.  The dance, with its origins in Cuba, is stately and prescribed, with inexplicable pauses where dancers turn to face the orchestra, women move to the right side of their partners, fan themselves, and then several measures later dancing resumes.

Dancers in traditional Oaxacan dress

I’m captivated by the dancers who are at once, serious and joyful, and by their varied attire — once a costumer, always a costumer!

Dancers - woman in slacks

Most dancers are in the latter third of their life, though there are a few earnest young people.

Young dancers

It’s a prosperous crowd — a dance of the elite — but mesmerizing to watch.

dancers

After an hour of observing this very “civilized” scene under an intense sun, I headed to Independencia, the shady side of the street, and home, only to stop, reel around, and follow the sounds of a calenda coming into the Alameda; band, dancers, fireworks — celebrating Día del Comerciante!

Calinda

I leave feeling conflicted about my three hours on a sunny Sunday.  The lines from the song inspired by the 1912 Lawrence, Massachusetts textile strike come to mind…

As we come marching, marching, unnumbered women dead
Go crying through our singing their ancient cry for bread.
Small art and love and beauty their drudging spirits knew.
Yes, it is bread we fight for — but we fight for roses, too!

Lunch eaten, clouds gather, sky darkens, and Mother Nature reminds us who is in charge.

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