On my last day in Oaxaca, I went to the goverment/police building in the zocalo, hoping to see the murals inside.
By way of background, I need to tell you that Oaxaca has a history of indigenous unrest, and brutal suppression thereof. In 2006, a teacher’s strike devolved into violent conflict and the eventual takeover of the capital city by the Popular Assembly Of The People Of Oaxaca. While this was temporary, the group maintains a permanent presence n the zocalo, and has covered the front of the police building with both booths selling handicrafts to tourists, and political banners. On a fairly regular basis, busloads come in from the surrounding towns for rallies and protests.
The first time I went to see the murals, it was Saturday and a rally was in full swing. Thew APPO had strung a large banner right across the entrance to the police station. Sheepishly peeking out around the end of it, two policemen told me to come back during the week. I did so my last day, and although the banner was down, the police refused to let me in “for security reasons.”
It’s an interesting situation, as most of the police are also indigenous. I don’t know enough to have a strong opinion yet, but I tend to lean towards the indigenous people in any such situation (although not necessarily their leaders, who have been notoriously dictatorial.) The people I spoke to in Oaxaca who have money are terrified of the new president, who is a socialist. They believe that he will turn Mexico into Cuba overnight. I suspect that the people he voted in believe he will turn Mexico into a worker’s paradise overnight. Both sides believing their own propaganda. Not dissimilar to the United States.
One of my first goals upon moving to Oaxaca is to learn at least one of the indigenous languages, probably Zapotec, as they are the largest group. Maybe that will facilitate understanding on my part of the situation beyond what I can read on wikipedia or a banner on the police station.