I need to correct the record on the July 16 clash between the police and protestors in Oaxaca as I keep seeing mainstream and alternative media reports that the police were preventing people from entering the Fortin Hill auditorium where the dance festival was being held.
My understanding, having lived here for the last year, was that the Popular Guelaguetza was going to be held, like last year, someplace in the city. Then the APPO announced it would be held at the auditorium on Fortin Hill. However, over the weekend, police fortifications began gathering on the hill. To avoid a bloodbath of innocent people and performers, Noticias printed a last minute notice that the popular guelaguetza would be held in the Plaza de la Danza, which many of my friends attended although I did not. At some point, apparently during or shortly after the dance at the Plaza, several thousand protestors began marching to the auditorium with the intent to occupy it to keep the commercial event from happening on the two following mondays. They were met by the police of course and the rest is history.
(If any of this scenario is not correct please let me know. You know how difficult it is to know what exactly is happening in Oaxaca even when “you see it!”
I have no idea why the APPO press statement would say that the police launched an attack against the people “who were celebrating…in the auditorium” and that police surrounded the auditorium “in order to prevent people from entering the festival.” They wanted to make the attack look worse? Or maybe the release was manipulated by the translators?
Now the English language (at least) media and bloggers have picked up the following translated APPO press release exerpt that is patently untrue.
“According to an APPO press statement released today, the police launched “a broad offense” against the people of Oaxaca who were celebrating their alternative and popular guelaguetza (an annual Oaxacan cultural festival) in the Guelaguetza auditorium. The APPO announced two days previous that it would hold an alternative cultural festival in the main Guelaguetza auditorium, located in the Fortin Mountain outside of the city.
Federal Preventive Police and State police surrounded the perimeter of the Guelaguetza auditorium in order to prevent people from entering the festival.”
As for the police…why couldn’t they have just stood silently at the entrances to the tunnels into the auditorium with their shields like they did around the zocalo last year? It would have been impossible for people to enter without attacking the police. But oh, no, instead the police had to go on the offense and fire off tear gas and beat and arrest people!
Furthermore, last year the auditorium on Fortin was not “burned down.” A fire was set on the stage which damaged part of the floor. Also the bathrooms were badly trashed. A university student saw a group of porros and their leader (he knew the leader) standing together talking in the auditorium the next morning. So who paid the porros?
I just read an eye-witness account that I had posted earlier on my blog and noticed that apparently the police, in pursuing the marchers down Crespo from Fortin Hill, were headed for the Plaza de la Danza where the Popular Guelaguetza was being held but was unable to reach it or just gave up the chase.
It appears that what happened was that the small Plaza de la Danza quickly filled to overflowing with people to watch the dancers. So the remaining marchers or a different group headed up to the auditorium on Fortin. Whether this was planned or not, I have no idea.