Oaxaca Update by Nancy Davies

I must admit: I can’t keep up with the Oaxaca news any more. It’s not just
old age, although that doesn’t help—there it just too much happening. And
whether you believe that events of the first rush will fade into the same
old corruption, or that it is the dawn of a (more or less) new era, the
daily news covers a torrent of changes.

First, the election nightmare of more than 40 towns whose elections were in
dispute, is very nearly resolved–maybe three left to go. Part of the
resolution had to do with removing crooked officials of the State Election
Commission (done), and partly with the work of the Secretary of Government
Irma Peyñero who has met with each hot spot’s representatives. The main
difficulty seems to be getting the PRI to let loose, and I believe that in
one town it was the PRD. The Mixteca where MULT and the Ubisort
paramilitary hold power is still to be resolved, that’s the nastiest
situation, and the MULTI Triqui women are still suffering displacement.

The second big reconciliation seems to be about permitting the freeway. The
local people have declared that as long as the road can be relocated so as
not to cross farmland, they agree to the construction. The dam Paso de la
Reina is on hold. The mine at San Jose del Progreso is on hold.

The financial news features disclosure of one crime after another. Thus far
no high-level prosecutions. These thefts, corrupt construction practices,
lack of record-keeping, etc., involve both the state and the city. Real
estate taxes in the city of Oaxaca went up; the consolation was free
cookies, coffee and water distributed by polite clerks while one waited to
pay the taxes. Hmmm.

The disaster of the September rains reveals that seven communities must be
completely relocated; 83 in total are said to sit on geological faults.
Seven require partial relocations. Areas along the rivers that flooded in
the city are not yet cleaned.People throw trash. The dump has to be closed
and a new one is not yet located. Recycling has been suggested, so one can
guess it will be in the plans…

The wind generators on the Isthmus are on the increase; Cue has met with
foreign investors, not just from Spain but also from France, and he is
pushing for development. Those opposed, like Carlos Beas Torres of UCIZONI,
are not giving up. No to the windmills. (My personal opinion is that the
battle is lost.)

Cue has now held two open house meetings in which his entire cabinet was set
up to speak face to face with citizens, all day sessions both of them, with
several hundred people. The most recent took place in the Cuenca, so that
people did not need to come into the capital.

He also met with the ambassadors from Guatemala and El Salvador, to
encourage joint efforts, including investments, to protect Central American
immigrants. That’s a first ever, from what I read. I thought it was
interesting that Oaxaca, not Chiapas, is taking the lead.

Cue has also scheduled fifteen citizen forums during the next month around
the state, to map out plans for areas such as education, health, women’s
needs and business development. The murders of women are so high that a new
government committee was formed, with a new position.

The proposal for updating the constitution to provide more citizen input,
such as referendum, plebiscite and the yearned-for recall vote, is on track
for March.

Upgrades of ambulance availability, and police protection is underway. The
Oaxaca City police, now earning 5,000 pesos ($500) every two weeks, no
longer will have to buy their own equipment, nice, huh? And will be *trained,
*while a new effort is underway to provide professionalization of the force,
with such procedures as taking fingerprints and collecting evidence. The
changeover from the two styles of justice ( Napoleonic to British) came up
against the fact that collecting evidence is a relatively new procedure, a
challenge which apparently nobody under Ulises foresaw…

I see Cue moving on the social front, the constitutional front with
separation of powers and financial autonomy for each branch, and business
investments to bring money into the state. His plans do not reflect a
socialist/anarchist state, but democratic representative government is
better than authoritarian theft, murder and repression. And the people are
stepping forward on many issues, including education. There is an opinion
piece by Eduardo Bautista of IISUABJO which I will try to translate, it
deals with the role of Section 22 in the movement and their push for
decentralization, also an issue for the indigenous communities.

Today’s paper says that only one-fifth of the state’s population can afford
to eat meat. That’s not so unhealthy, but they don’t get to eat vegetables
either. In Oaxaca 8.4% of families have a computer; that puts Oaxaca in next
to last place in Mexico. However, several opinion pieces locally not only
remarked on the Tunisia-Egypt-Yemen-Palestinian Authority stories but
indicated similarities in the uprisings to Oaxaca’s. My sister phoned me
from LA and remarked on it also, she thought she was the only person who
noticed. In the USA, maybe so.

If anyone would like to add to this brief compilation, feel free.

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