The here and now... and what and why

Complacency is a trap. At least that’s what I was thinking when I up and left the comfort of a Yankee prep school gig, where I taught music, amongst other things, for 28 years. There was also that life long career as a composer, musician and artist.

First, it was a year in St. Thomas, USVI, working as a reporter and shooting photography and then, a year in San Agustin Etla, Oaxaca, Mexico.
Time passed.
More time passed and a year back in the Athens of America followed by a hasty return to Oaxaca where it is all happening.
A couple of years in San Sebastian Etla and now, just down the road in San Pablo Etla. Life is good.

Click on an image to see it larger.
For additional photography please visit my flickr page.
You can find my music on Jango (World & latin - Worldbeat) and at iTunes and most online stores.
¡Soy consciente de todas las tradiciones del Internet!
If you are coming to Oaxaca, please contact me for tours or advice.

Santo Domingo

Santo Domingo
The view from Corazon del Pueblo

The hereafter re me

My photo
Oaxaca, Oaxaca, Mexico
Musician, photographer, videographer, reporter, ex-officio teacher, now attempting to be a world traveler

Saturday, February 19, 2011

As I mentioned earlier, the day I left, Presidente Calderon arrived in Oaxaca and there were demonstrations and some violence in the streets.

from the Latin American Herald Tribune
"More than 1 million primary students were left idle when teachers in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca walked out to protest authorities’ violent suppression of a demonstration earlier this week.

A score of people, including three journalists, were injured Tuesday as federal riot police forcibly prevented protesting teachers from entering the main square in Oaxaca city, the state capital, during a speech by Mexican President Felipe Calderon.

The teachers fought back, holding three cops captive for a few hours and punching municipal police chief Marco Tulio Lopez.

On Wednesday, teachers in Oaxaca city led a march from the state education department to the main square, while their colleagues in other parts of the impoverished state blocked roads with protests...."
As always, there are many issues involved and I cannot comment on any of it.  "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool..... "

However, I do have images from Shannon Sheppard, a fellow blogger (View from Casita Calibri) 

And this remarkable note from Henry Wangeman of Amate Books.
"Yesterday was interesting, very 2006. There were hundreds, perhaps a thousand, of heavily equipped riot police. The President had lunch in the botanical garden and protesters from the zocolo tried to get near. Most businesses on Alcala held there customers hostage behind large closed doors for at least an hour. The riot police outside shouted, "Keep you doors closed. Do not come out yet." The protesters were no match for such a professional and overwhelming police force. They seemed to dissipate into lonely

At five I went to the Mezcalteco with Jon. It is right in front of the drive-in gate at the botanical garden. We had to lie and say our hotel was right there to get through the police barricades. So we are all alone in the tasting room putting it to good use. Outside, there is a flurry of rushing activity across the street. I walked to the window and there is the President getting into the front passenger seat of the first large black SUV. The car pulls out slowly. The few people around are scuttling to their positions and respective cars. Making the turn onto Reforma the president is right in front of me, 7ft away, with only a glass window pane separating us. He looks at me and I lift my small jicara of magic brew in the air as if to bless him. He breaks into a wide generous smile and raises his open hand. I breathe, barely audible, "Don't mess things up".  He continues to smile and speeds off. So you know he cannot be all bad. The way he broke into a spontaneous smile means he loves mezcal too.
Or more sadly, perhaps he already knows, that like theology, Mezcal is the last comforting refuge of chaos."

Thanks to Shannon and Henry.


Joanna said...

On February 15th I waited in Henry's bookstore, captive behind the massive wooden doors. Fortunately, during a lull, I managed to tag onto a line of Austrian tourists and made my way back to my hotel. I'm no greenhorn in Mexico (I've lived here for 35 years) but my normally cast-iron stomach was in full revolt - I thought I would throw up. Not from fear... but rather because I felt absolutely sick for Oaxaca's people. They endured unbelievable hardship in 2006 and now... the signs of another siege are all too obvious. Protest is a civil right. Viloence is the work of thugs. The burning of the semitruck and other acts tell me the thugs are poised to resume causing mayhem. These are not poor oppressed "teachers"... outright arnarchists are behind the Oaxaca movement. Anarchists with an incredible public image team who manage to get teachers' unions and civil rights groups to support their agenda and who also turn a blind eye to the terrorist tactics. It's true, the government is looking through rose colored glasses and thinks they can stop haemorrhages with bandaids but these "teachers" are prepared to see their own children suffer. On February 15th, I saw one small bloodied child being carried away. He was taken to the "Centro de Esperanza Infantil" ( visit: ) About 60 desperate street vendors had taken refuge at the center... My guts continue to churn just thinking of what will happen if the dark side gets their way again.

Christopher Stowens said...

Thanks for the insider's perspective and comment.

"I remain hopeful, but not optimistic" or how ever that quote goes. It seems like everyone, everywhere is going through tough times, but if Oaxaca teaches us anything, it is resiliency. They/we will make it through this.

"Keep hope alive."