Posts Tagged ‘political commentary’

March 8 is International Women’s Day. In the words of a recent article by Nancy Rosenstock, a woman I knew back in the day, “In these challenging times, all women — from those of us who were involved in second-wave feminism to those just entering the struggle — need to come together as equal fighters and chart a course forward.”

We may have come a long way, but the struggle for equal rights, respect, freedom from violence, and control of our own bodies continues and the women of the walls of Oaxaca are not silent.

Many of the images also carry a written messages. Below, Nuestros sueños no caben en sus urnas / Our dreams do not fit in their ballot boxes carries an indictment against the capitalist political parties.

The next one lets the symbols of the ancestors speak.

From a women’s graphic campaign that seeks to express “what our bodies go through every day and what we are seeking when we scream: Vivas Nos Queremos / We Want Ourselves Alive.

And, a promise that women will not be silenced and will march forward Sin miedo / Without fear.

Then there is the mural, La Patria / The Homeland, which adorns the wall of a school in Barrio de Jalatlaco. La Patria, originally a painting by Jorge González Camarena of an indigenous woman surrounded by patriotic imagery, graced the covers of textbooks from the 1960s into the 1970s.

To honor and celebrate International Women’s Day, on March 8, La Mano Magica Gallery/Galería inaugurates an exhibit of women artists, Exposición de Arte Colectiva Mujeres Artistas, curated by Mary Jane Gagnier, at their gallery in Oaxaca and online on their Facebook page.

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Today, March 8, women around the world are celebrating International Women’s Day with marches, forums, exhibitions, and more. The mass media is filled with stories about extraordinary women and companies catering to women are using references to International Women’s Day in their advertising, though, I might add, very few mention its revolutionary past.

However, it isn’t today’s demonstrations, expositions, and other special events that has women in Mexico talking. It is the call for women to disappear for a day to protest the staggering amount of violence perpetrated against them. Government statistics report that 3,825 women met violent deaths last year, 7% more than in 2018. That works out to about 10 women slain each day in Mexico, making it one of the most dangerous countries in the world for females. Thousands more have gone missing without a trace in recent years.

Using the hashtags #ParoNacionaldeMujeres (National Women’s Strike), #UnDíaSinNosotras (A Day Without Us), and #UnDíaSinMujeres (A Day Without Women), organizers have reached out to the women of Mexico that on Monday, March 9, nothing moves: Don’t go out, don’t shop, don’t go to school, and don’t consume — become invisible, simulating the thousands of women who have been murdered or disappeared.

As three female legislators wrote in an article expressing their support for the strike, Women are responsible for about half of the compensated economic activity in the country, and relied upon disproportionately for unpaid work in the home, which is roughly equivalent to 15% of Mexico’s GDP. In exchange, our rights are impaired or ignored. Women have become the protagonists of thousands upon thousands of stories of violence and impunity at the hands of men who, in public and in private, feel they have a right to decide over our lives and our bodies…. That and many, many reasons more are why Mexico’s women will march in protest on March 8, and stop everything – stop working, stop asking, stop accepting – on March 9.

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Armed with their art, the women of Armarte OAX have taken to the streets to raise their voices in struggle.


And, they aren’t alone in Oaxaca…


In the early evening of International Women’s Day, thousands of women “reclaimed” some of the most dangerous streets of the city demanding an end to street harassment, punishment for rapists, the cessation of violence against women, and safe abortion.


Struggle, the other “women’s work.”

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Protest art continues to paper the streets of Oaxaca.

It’s there in black and white against walls of texture and color — greeting the morning’s light and disappearing as shadows fall.

Today, the faces of rage, resistance, and anguish are not only looking down from walls, they are seen at eye level in Oaxaca’s zócalo and streets.  They’re back…  The annual occupation and blockades by Sección 22 of the CNTE (teachers’ union) has begun.

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Whether just passing by…



Or, stopping to study…



Even black and white stencils add color commentary to the walls of Oaxaca.

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We live in perilous times…P1250005

The signs are everywhere…P1260098

This guy can’t be the only one riding to the rescue.P1250841

We all must do our part.



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What a game; three goals in 10 minutes in the second half!!!   Another thrilling win by El Tri advances Mexico to the next stage in World Cup 2014.  They struggled and needed a little help from their “friends” in el norte to even play in Brazil.  However, against all odds, this team exhibits a gutsy and tenacious heart and soul that can’t help but have people rooting for them — much like the country of Mexico, itself.

Mural under fútbol stadium in Oaxaca - Dec. 2012

Mural under fútbol stadium in Oaxaca – Dec. 2012

Francisco Goldman wrote an op-ed in yesterday’s New York Times.  His article, “Fooling Mexican Fans,” relates the current politics of Mexico, the “bread and circuses” diversion of the World Cup, and the notion that El Tri might exemplify all that is inspiring and hopeful in the Mexican national character.

Goldman’s op-ed begins…

The day before the Mexican soccer team’s thrilling underdog tie with the World Cup favorite, Brazil, last week, the lead editorial of the news site SinEmbargo was titled, “Ready for your Clamato and Gatorade?” — common hangover remedies. “In about three weeks, when you wake from your World Cup dreams,” the editors wrote, “remember that when the soccer fest began, the country was on the verge of monumental decisions. If upon waking, you realize that the country’s energy reserves have been cheaply sold off or whatever else, don’t bother protesting because this is a chronicle foretold.”

To debate and pass laws that could open Pemex, the nationalized oil company, to foreign investment, the Mexican Congress scheduled legislative sessions from June 10 to 23, dates precisely coinciding with you know what. Final passage might be pushed back, but it originally looked like it was supposed to happen on Monday, when Mexico plays Croatia to decide which country advances to the elimination rounds.

As I wrote previously, Mexicans have been Expressing the outrage since last year, when Mexico’s newly elected president Enrique Peña Nieto (initials EPN), from the PRI party, first made the Pemex energy “reform” proposal.

Graffiti seen on a wall south of Oaxaca's zócalo, May 23, 2014.

Graffiti seen on a wall south of Oaxaca’s zócalo, May 23, 2014. 

Goldman goes on to discuss this and other “reforms,” the role of the PRI, and the current overall political climate in Mexico.  However, as dismal as it all sounds, he ends on a hopeful note…

There has been much talk lately about the way the style of soccer teams manifests national characters. I don’t know if that’s true. But when I look at the Mexican team which, after barely even qualifying for the World Cup, has been playing so well, I see a team without stars — a gritty, hard-working, pretty humble, resourceful, creative, disciplined, joyous, friendly-seeming group of players who seem to be learning to play the game as it is meant to be played.

These are values that we see enacted and re-enacted all over Mexico, and in Mexican communities elsewhere, every day. Someday Mexico will get another chance to vote the PRI away and to restart the long process of building the country from the ground up. It could do worse than take some inspiration from its national team.

Absolutely, those are the values I, too, see exhibited in Mexican communities both in Mexico and the US.  There is hope for the future — and not just on the pitch!   I encourage you to read Goldman’s op-ed in full.  In the meantime, Mexico vs. Netherlands on Sunday at Estadio Castelao Forteleza.  ¡¡¡ VAMOS EL TRI !!!

h/t K Hackbarth for the article

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Expats and Mexicans alike, are watching in amazement at the nonsense (as in, making NO sense) taking place in the hallowed halls of Washington DC.  And, since many of the expats are retired, we are holding our collective breath over the possibility social security checks will not be forthcoming in November and a tanking stock market that flushes our nest eggs away.  Of course, Mexico is in the middle of its own mess, “educational reforms” and economic proposals that will hurt Mexico’s working class and rural populations the most.

Wall in Oaxaca city.

Wall in Oaxaca city.

In a New York Times article two days ago, Carlos Puig explains the reality of the material conditions that have forced the teachers of Oaxaca to take the drastic action of abandoning their classrooms to lead massive and extremely disruptive protests in Mexico City against the “No Child Left Behind” style reforms that the Peña Nieto led government has proposed and passed.  (Read a critique of the US education “reform” by Diane Ravitch, former “No Child Left Behind” proponent, here.)

Oaxaca is 500 kilometers from Mexico City, yet the real distance is much bigger. The state’s G.N.P. per capita is one-quarter the average for the country. Oaxaca ranks second-to-last among all states in infrastructure. More than half its population lives in towns of fewer than 2,500 people.

Being a teacher in Oaxaca means sometimes having to travel for an entire day to reach your school in a tiny community, teach for three days — to children of all grades — and travel back home for the weekend. It means having to deal with children who speak more than 20 different dialects.

Being a teacher in Oaxaca means operating in a different universe — and under different rules.

Banner hanging in front of a school in Oaxaca city

Banner hanging in front of a school in Oaxaca city

However, as in the USA, the incomprehensible words coming out of the mouths of the 1% and their elected representatives are mind-boggling in their obliviousness to the adverse consequences their behavior and policies cause.  And, we scratch our heads in amazement…  McClatchy journalist, Tim Johnson, has repeatedly blogged about the exceedingly “bad” behavior exhibited by Mexico City’s rich and powerful directed at those they consider “below” them — most recently, Las Ladies, episode 7.  And, just last week in Oaxaca, most were aghast to read that an indigenous woman, in the advanced stage of labor, was turned away from a hospital and forced to give birth on the hospital lawn.

Daniel Goleman had a revealing piece in the New York Times a few days ago that helps explain where this lack of empathy the ruling elite exhibit, that results in callous social policy, comes from.  He explains in Rich People Just Care Less that, by necessity, “the poor, compared with the wealthy, have keenly attuned interpersonal attention in all directions…”  And that, “A growing body of recent research shows that people with the most social power pay scant attention to those with little such power” and, “In politics, readily dismissing inconvenient people can easily extend to dismissing inconvenient truths about them.”

Okay, now we know why the rich care less, so what are we going to do about it?

Part of a mural on Niños Heroes in Oaxaca city.

Part of a mural on Niños Heroes in Oaxaca city.

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Remember the childhood riddle, “What’s black and white and red all over?”

Old answer:  A newspaper.  New answer:  The walls of Oaxaca.

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Today, Pope Benedict XVI, the head of the Roman Catholic church rode off into the sunset.  (Actually, he flew off in a helicopter.)  And, naturally, the walls of Oaxaca had something to say…

Black and white skeleton portrait of pope

This was pasted on a wall right across from the south entrance to Santo Domingo de Guzmán.  The walls are never silent.

By the way, I did a Twitter search for the hashtag afterPopequit, but came up empty.

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