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A Birthday in Oaxaca

Friday, June 15th, 2012

Richard, Lulu, Carlos and Lumina

I’m counting my blessings that couchsurfing has given me this morning. I had the best birthday ever yesterday!

A lovely couple (she from Uh Merca and he from Britain) has been staying with me for the last couple of weeks because their landlady refused to pro-rate their last month of rent. Did my heart good because she (the landlady) was a conniving one!

Lumina went out and bought delicious heirloom tomatoes, hand made corn tortillas and flowers. Then a former couchsurfer from Guadalajara (says he left “the machine” behind) showed up with flowers and chapulines (fried grasshoppers). When Carlos, from Guadalajara, came, he left his bicycle and said he was going to the ATM…a five minute walk away. Came back more than an hour later. He had gone to one market about 6 blocks up the hill for flowers and it was closed. So he walked all the way to the big market on the other side of the zocalo (8 blocks) and back just to get flowers. And I’m not even a young chica! An example of the heart that resides in a Mexican. It’s why I’m here and why I stay.

Then a Chilanga (what they call you if U R from Mexico City) couchsurfer showed up with a gift of four lovely Mexican coffee cups. She works for the health department driving into remote mountain villages to take information and meds to the little clinics. Diabetes is endemic here and she says they are trying to get people to change their diet and behavior instead of just giving them pills. Good luck with that, I thought.

In Mexico, when you have a birthday, you stay at home, people just show up and everyone eats food you have prepared. I had made Pork Ribs with Green Sauce and rice and we drank lots of mescal. No face pushed in the cake thank goodness. Lumina had purchased some Mexican pastries she stuck a candle in.

They have been my friends for the year they spent in Oaxaca…he a writer and she a yoga instructor. Having met in S. America a couple years ago, they are going to be married in Ohio in July and then live in England.

I dropped Lumina and Richard off this morning at the bus station with a lump in my throat.

#Yosoy132…I am #132 In The Face of a Mexican Election

Sunday, June 3rd, 2012

Meanwhile, as teacher strikes continue in Oaxaca and all over the country, it has became clear that the PRI (the corrupt political party that has had a strangle hold on the country for more than 70 years) candidate, Pino Nieto, is the front-runner for the up-coming election for national president. The government controlled TV media is supporting him with impunity and bias. So the young people, mostly university students and others, are demonstrating peacefully in Mexico City and other cities. They are saying that Peña Nieto takes “historical responsibility, moral and political” for the human catastrophe of Atenco. (Read: crimes, rape, abuse, missing, devastated families, political prisoners ….). when he was Governor of Mexico State. When they asked him which books he read he bragged that he doesn’t read. During a speech at a library in Mexico City the students railed against him with jokes and demands for him to get out.

Then, Pedro Joaquin Coldwell, president of the PRI,” gave a radio interview demanding “punishment to the rebels and expulsion of students.” The students responded with cries of “we have changed…you haven’t!”

However the university authorities’ response was unequivocal: the Universidad Iberoamericana guarantees its students the full right to freedom of expression with the “same integrity of the authorities” that, in 1968, (after over 200 students were gunned down in a university soccer field) led the Rector Javier Barros Sierra to protect UNAM students against the intervention of government power. Now, police authorities are not allowed on any university campus. However, now, only one university, so far, is unconditionally protecting the right of students to be critical…the prestigious Universidad Iberoamericana.

So 131 students of the Ibero, “despite the siege and the threats that are reported in the media,” decided, through twitter and Facebook, that “it is dignity which makes possible the bonds of community.” One by one, the 131 students, ironically mostly from affluent families, took responsibility as members of their society. Now, all my young Mexican friends on Facebook are posting “#YoSoy132” which is the twitter hashtag for what is becoming a movement. Face after face, name after name, identity number after number, “together-we-stand” is transforming the political consciousness of a young generation who are sick of death and corruption and just want to get on with life.

The problem, though, is not just refusing to be intimidated by power. But how to disarm it.

My god, they look young!

Oaxaca Teachers Strike Again

Sunday, June 3rd, 2012
For two weeks now, the teachers have constructed a planton in the Zocalo and in the surrounding streets. Tents abut each other and guy-wires (actually cord), holding up tarps to protect from the rain, extend in every direction...low enough so ... [Continue reading this entry]