Home News Fight against violence and oppression in Oaxaca finds ready supporters

Fight against violence and oppression in Oaxaca finds ready supporters

by Archives November 8, 2006

Pedro Batista and Asuncion Lopez urged members of the Concordia community Wednesday to express their solidarity with the people of Oaxaca by writing to the Mexican government demanding justice.

Bastista and Lopez, themselves indigenous people from Oaxaca, stopped at Concordia as part of their Quebec and Ontario tour to inform Canadians about their people’s struggle against poverty and oppression.

“As indigenous people, our government has always seen us as if we were worthless,” said Batista. “Our rights as indigenous people are not respected,” he added.

Oaxaca has always been a center of conflict between the government and the population. As one of Mexico’s poorest states, it also is one of the states with the highest number of indigenous communities. This year, what started as a teachers’ strike last May for higher wages and more school supplies resulted in an escalation of violence in the state’s capital and a public demand for the state’s Governor to step down.

Batista says the government has reacted in a tyrannical way.

“We have been persecuted, jailed, tortured, some of our colleagues have lost their lives,” said Batista. “Two days ago we received news of the death of 15 people, including an independent journalist from New York,” he said.

Batista says that although the people’s demands are peaceful and legitimate, the government has resorted to violence and oppression. “The federal government is not worried about the Oaxaca’s people’s problems. That’s why it sent the federal police to repress whomever they saw on the streets,” he said.

Batista accused the federal and state governments of sending individuals with no uniforms or identification to open fire at demonstrators. He said the government is trying to manipulate the public’s perception of the conflict by accusing the teachers’ movement of being violent. The teachers had resorted to taking over several radio stations and a television channel in order to counteract the government’s negative media campaign against them.

“People from the PRI (the governor’s political party) burned buses to put the blame on the teachers,” Batista said. “People from the government commit acts of vandalism, and the government always blames the teachers and manipulates the media.”

The New York Times reported in an article on Oct. 29 that the original dispute with the teachers had been recently settled with a pay raise. The teachers have said they intend to return to classes on Monday, allowing 1.3 million children to resume their studies.

Lopez said she doesn’t understand why the government has acted this way. “The teachers are demanding a better salary because what they earn is not enough, and the first thing the government does is kill our teachers,” she said.

“If he [Oaxaca Governor Ulises Ruiz] really is the Governor, he needs to open a dialogue with the teachers. He shouldn’t hit teachers, he shouldn’t kill them,” she pleaded.

Batista and Lopez are members of the Indigenous Council of Oaxaca-Ricardo Flores Magon (CIPO-RFM), an organization that defends the rights of the indigenous people of Oaxaca.

Lopez and Batista said the Concordia community can express their solidarity with the people of Oaxaca by following the events, spreading information and writing letters to the Mexican government.

Already showing its support, the People’s Potato donated all of its Wednesday’s proceeds to Lopez and Batista’s organization, and an additional $300 was raised from donations at the conference.

Concordia students formed the Solidarity with Oaxaca Action Committee with plans to raise awareness and get people involved in the cause. James Doyle, a member of the committee, said they plan to send letters and organize demonstrations in support of the people of Oaxaca.

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