The sweet simplicity of the holiday season that I experienced here in 2007, in a Oaxaca that had not yet fully recovered from the 2006 war between URO and APPO (Asamblea Popular de los Pueblos de Oaxaca), has been replaced by an extravaganza that incorporates all the lovely traditions, but spiffs them up into something equivalent to a Mexican version of Mardi Gras and New Year’s Eve in Times Square combined. It looks as though the local economy has rebounded, and the tourists are lovin’ it.
Still, it’s hard not to notice the Triquis’ plantón in the middle of Calle Flores Magon, just around the corner from the Palacio de Gobierno, where they had set up a protest encampment two months ago to demand that the government provide them with protection from the paramilitary groups that are preventing them from returning to their community of San Juan Copala. Instead, in the early morning hours of the 23rd the Governor’s orders that the Triquis be expelled from the Palacio were carried out. (My guess is that Gabino Cue thought that those arriving for Noche de Rabanos would be turned off by the sight of the protesting Triquis and would prefer, instead, to see the Palacio de Gobierno barricaded and guarded by a line of gun-toting State Preventive Police.) During the expulsion, Valentina Merino, eight months pregnant, experienced “jaloneos, golpes y empujones” (jerking, hitting, and pushing) and, as a result, went into labour. In the bitter cold of a Oaxacan winter night, with the help of a midwife, Valentina gave birth to baby Jesús. At first he seemed well, but four days later he developed problems and was taken to hospital, where he died.
I will be bringing them some supplies today, and more tomorrow. I'll find out if they have a PayPal account or some way to receive cash donations, and will report back here. If you're from a rich country, remember that a little goes a long way in Mexico. Let's work to make 2013 a better year for all of us.