"Auditorio Guelaguetza en Oaxaca"
La Jornada, 29th July, 2015
A few days ago, Francisco Toledo* declared: "I am sick and tired of what is happening in Oaxaca."
So, with artistic precision, Toledo expressed the energy circulating in Oaxaca. Once again making the rounds is the Zapatistas’ cry "Enough!" [¡Ya basta!] Once again we say with Javier Sicilia, "We are up totally fed up!" [¡Estamos hasta la madre!]
Today the symbolic, historical and environmental value of Cerro del Fortín** mobilizes us. The mindless corruption of one of the hotel owners settled in at the Fort mobilizes us. The Secretary of Tourism in the state government pushed for construction of a large convention centre next to his hotel, an obvious conflict of interest. But the convention centre can also cause enormous environmental and social damage.
Toledo himself demonstrated the outrageous injustice of assigning to the centre more money than to health services, when there are children born in hospital courtyards and doctors who are on strike because the lack of medicines prevents them from doing their work. But we are not fighting the idea of building a convention centre, although one already exists some 100 metres from the project and another two kilometres [1.2 miles] away. We are fighting against the idea of doing it in the Fort and with so much waste. We have already presented three options for better sites that are much cheaper and more efficient than the one on the Hill, with its geological risks and environmental damage.
We are mobilized by a long series of outrages. The centre was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
We are fed up with the corruption and incompetence of the authorities and with politics as the mere business of a few. Again and again we have demonstrated that we know better than the government officials what should and should not be done.
We are fed up with their authoritarianism, their blindness and deafness to what people say and do. They ignored us when we tried to prevent the construction of a Chedraui store that destroyed an urban forest of enormous value; when we presented options to an absurd traffic circle; when we defended many battered areas, such as the hill of San Felipe; when we demanded dismantling the ridiculous cover that Ulises Ruiz put atop the Guelaguetza open-air amphitheatre … It has not been possible to make the authorities listen to the clamour of society.
Today we started the campaign—"What happened to my rights?"—protesting the close-mindedness of the [Oaxaca state] Congress and their bosses in Government [Secretariat of Government Relations, SEGOB] faced with a deep and extensive consultation on indigenous rights. **** We no longer believe in the word [given by those] from above [de arriba].We are tired of cynicism. The centre violates all local and federal regulations … but from the governor on down they continue declaring that it meets all requirements. While the country is falling apart and poverty is rife, the only thing we hear from the government is that we are in the best of all possible worlds.
We do not feel reassured by the announcement of a public consultation on the centre, which the government officials who promised it cannot organize, and which showed the deceitful nature of the ‘law of participation’ that they promote. The popular Guelaguetza*** was born as an alternative to an official performance for foreigners that marginalizes us.
It is true that after twelve atrocious years of [former Oaxaca governors] José Murat and Ulises Ruiz, the arrival of Gabino Cué raised hopes in various sectors. Now they are the first to declare frustration and disappointment. Definitely, we are fed up with all the political classes for their corruption, for their incompetence, for their authoritarianism. It wasn’t a stupid thing for Toledo to say that the consultation would make sense if it could include the recall of the governor and the mayor [of Oaxaca City].
It doesn’t make us feel any better that the case of Oaxaca is not the exception, but the rule. We are also fed up that El Chapo Guzmán and Ulises Ruiz are free, despite their countless crimes, while Nestora Salgado, Mario Luna, Oaxaca’s political prisoners—many our comrades—remain behind bars.
We are fed up that the country continues to be handed over to private capital while the gross, open plunder of our lands, our waters, our means of subsistence intensifies.
We are sick and tired of the mining concessions, of the megaprojects, of the ridiculous [public] works, while we are overwhelmed by the economic disaster to which the government contributes daily.
It saddens us to see that some of our fellows close their eyes to this situation—not daring to face it with courage, dignity and organization—and comply with the illusion of replacement [through elections], feeding the fantasy that it might be enough to replace some government officials or political parties in order to get out of the abyss into which we have fallen and cope with the disaster.
In getting ourselves ready to fight as much as might be necessary to defend what is ours, we go over our long experience, what we’ve learned from recent mistakes, what we have experienced in our organization and in our longstanding ability to govern ourselves. We will know what to do when the time comes.
Translated by Jane Brundage