AMLO outside the Senate, Monday, October 26

Worker's Party Deputy Mario di Costanzo Tears Apart Carstens Economic Plan

Monday, July 14, 2008

Oaxaca: Corruption and Impunity Without Limits (translation)

Instead of writing a piece of my own today, I'm including here my own translation of an op-ed piece by Gustavo Esteva in today's Jornada that describes recent events in Oaxaca better than I could have. For all of you living in Mexico, please join in the nationwide boycott of all Chedraui stores. I know that all corporations are doing something, and if we boycotted all of them we wouldn't be able to shop anywhere, etc...but what happened last week in the Colonia Reforma is happening now, under our noses - the late-night rape of a hectare of woodland, with the full collusion of the municipal government, that the neighborhood was trying to get converted into an ecological park. Read on...

Oaxaca: Corruption and Impunity Without Limits
by Gustavo Esteva, La Jornada July 14th, 2008
Translation by Kurt Hackbarth

“Yesterday at three in the morning, an army of para-police from the Chedrahui company, protected by actual police, entered into the Predio Sarmiento in the heart of the Colonia Reforma in Oaxaca City and destroyed, without the required permits but with the complicity of the PRIista [from the political party PRI] municipal authorities, an enormous ecosystem home to thousands of birds and squirrels. The destruction covered over a hectare of trees, including three, hundred-year-old huanacastles, dozens of jacarandas, pirules, willows, oaks and date palms. The clandestine tree-cutters chased out and macheted to death hundreds of squirrels – a truly pathetic image. Only the intervention of hundreds of neighbors managed to put a halt to the barbarity, but it was already too late to save this small urban woodland. The environmental damage caused is incalculable.”

I take this quote from the manifesto of the organization “Pueblo Jaguar” which, together with others, has been circulating through Oaxaca this week to denounce last Wednesday’s aggression, the goal of which, obviously, was to prevent the consolidation of a citizens’ movement that for weeks has been working to prevent the building of a shopping center on the site, seeking instead to turn the forest into an ecological park. And clearly, the action [taken by Chedraui] has proven counterproductive. The movement has taken on an uncommon strength, working to organize a national boycott against Chedraui, as well as demanding punishment for the guilty parties and a stop to the construction. It will surely spread to other regions. After the destruction of the most beautiful of squares, the Plaza de la República, which lost some of its own hundred-year-old trees in a “modernization” project that sought to turn it into a sort of subway station, the Alameda de León, adjacent to the Plaza, is next on the list for being torn apart.

This is the state of things. On July 2nd, the local leader of the Employer’s Confederation of Mexico described the prevailing climate in Oaxaca: “Here they can kill two young indigenous radio announcers, and nothing happens; they can kidnap, and nothing happens; they can break into a house and rob it, and nothing happens; they can commit any offense, and nothing happens.”

No one should be surprised. When the Mexican Supreme Court discussed how to contribute to reestablishing constitutional order in Oaxaca, creating an investigative commission for this purpose, it stated: “We cannot allow arbitrary detentions and tortures of prisoners to become ordinary and normal in our country…The Oaxacans have lived through, and are perhaps still living through, a state of emotional and legal uncertainty…It is logical that people are living in anxiety when faced with authorities that make limitless use of public force, to the point of ignoring the human rights that our legal framework recognizes (La Jornada, 14/6/07)”.

While the Court continues with its apparently interminable investigations, the arbitrary detentions and torture of prisoners have become ordinary and normal in our country. In León, the police receive training in torture practices…so as to refine them. In the first six months of 2008, the Attorney General’s Office for Human Rights in Guanajuato has opened fourteen cases for torture and degrading and inhuman acts. The secretary for human rights for the United Nations recently indicated that respect for human rights is not a priority of the Mexican government. The unlimited and illegal use of public force is a daily practice throughout the nation. For the president of Mexico City’s Human Rights Commission, in national public security policy and in the administration of justice “no controls are placed on the action of the police, and the message is sent that everything goes in order to fight crime” (Proceso 1652, 19/6/08). And it is a crime, for the authorities, to participate in social movements. Not only the Oaxacans are currently living through emotional and legal uncertainty.

The leader of Coparmex reacted in Oaxaca to the kidnapping of one his own, a prominent Spanish businessman, which provoked the local leader of the National Chamber of Small Commerce into making the elegant expression: “That’s a load of crap!” The leader of the National Chamber of Transformative Industry said: “We want zero tolerance for those who disrupt the peace of Oaxaca!” Legislators from the PAN party, for their part, demanded the immediate intervention of the army and federal police in order to apply a remedy clearly worse than the disease, as the Oaxacan experience demonstrates, one which has begun to spread throughout the entire country.

Practically a year ago, Carlos Monsiváis stated that the continuance of Ulises Ruiz in power was “a profound enigma and a very severe insult to republican logic.” Perhaps it has stopped being an enigma. The insult is now open to all: it defines national policy. In different ways and in different degrees, the entire nation is suffering the consequences of not having adequately reacted against the intolerable affront that the people of Oaxaca have suffered, and are suffering still.


gil said...

Kurt - seeing "0" comments on this blog I hasten to add the simple observation that translating interesting and compelling analysis should pay off handsomely. Saves you having to think up something resounding and important each time - so - within the limits of copyright concerns - keep it up. Gil

Andrew said...

Thank you for your translation! It has helped me tremendously!