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

Sunday, November 20, 2011

What the US could learn from Oaxaca

The right to protest is a part of life here.  It is respected at all times.  Many times these protests cause disruptions in the daily flow of life.  What's more, it is a rare day when there are no protests, marches or blockades.  They may inconvenience people, but people adapt and we live our lives.  The over-arching principle being people's respect for the right of others to protest.  They may not agree, but protesting is fine.  Oaxaqueños are famous for their protests, their resolve and their political involvement.

At the same time, Mexico is a militarized country.  We see big guns every day.  There are checkpoints at various points on strategic roads and others that pop up randomly.  To go through them is just a part of normal life.  However, being way up in the mountains and hitting upon a group of soldiers, some of whom are wearing black ski masks... well, it can readjust one's thinking real quickly.  There is always a big "whew!" at the end.

With that said, I am watching what is happening in El Norte right now and certainly the right to protest is being trampled.  I feel more like an alien here than in Oaxaca.  Where am I?

Everyone knows that the US is #1 in military/police technology and seeing it in use on our own people is just plain scary. 

Oaxaca is so far ahead of the curve on this, the US should study it.  The protests in 2006 came after years of building tensions.  It was a perfect storm with Ulises as governor.  It all ended horribly in October of 2006.  People died.  The economy collapsed.  Everything changed.  For all the artesanos, the carvers, the weavers, ceramicists, it ended.. over.  People have adapted.  There has been a recovery of sorts, but let's face it, the world economy is in the tank, so it ain't great.

In hindsight, and no great revelation, sending in the troops to end the 2006 protests brought on a whole world of pain.  Violence and brutality versus the right to protest.  Look how that played out.

For now, Oaxaca has returned to normal and I say, ¡Viva Oaxaca! where the right to protest is inviolate and very well exercised. 

2006? Given the opportunity to do it differently, I think most would say, "Let's try."

And now, in the US, we have such blatant abuse by police, who look like they are from some sci-fi movie.  The images that the rest of the world sees......  Uh, guys, this is not a good thing.  Are you aware that everyone has phones that take pictures and video?  And can post them in seconds?  I mean, haven't you seen "The Bourne Ultimatum???" We are all on camera, all the time.  Pepper spraying someone in the face and arresting our grandmothers is not playing well.  It is a very difficult sell to a world that is very plugged in.  Egypt? Greece? Arab Spring?  As they say, "The whole world is watching."

One of the things I love about Oaxaca is its 10,000 year history.  It is a wonderfully rich and advanced history.  There were mighty empires here.  They came and went.  There are patterns there.  They are fascinating to study.

There are whispers from the past, "We were up and then we fell.  We may be down now, but we are still proud.  Look at what we accomplished.  And someday, we will be up again."

El Norte.  Calmate. Stop.  Think.... Learn something.

1 comment:

Jody said...

Great post, hermano, great post!