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On the ground: Video report, road blockades in San Cristobal

Oscar Beard | 20.11.2006 19:25 | Oaxaca Uprising | Repression | Social Struggles | Zapatista | London | World

Video and written report on the EZLN road blocks on every way into and out of San Cristobal, shutting most the city down as the 20 November celebrations of the 1910 revolution begin.

Bam! Awake at 5.30am. Damn. My body clock is completely screwed. The melatonin isn't working. But I fear somekind of wierd freakout if I take more and overdoze.

At 6.30am San Cristobal is a mightily cold place. I knew it would be cold, but not this bad. Night time it is like being in London, but without the arsehole mentality of the public majority. And there are no high-rise buildings obscuring the view, only lush green mountains capped with thick cloud.

I headed into the Zocalo early and picked up a partner, a street dog, well, bitch, and named her Generale Dogsbody. She seemed to like that, and having her ears and nose scratched. We played all the way into the central square, el Generale shoving her head between my legs, paws wrapped round my right leg, biting my jeans. Walking is difficult when a hefty bitch is hanging onto the bottom of your trousers.

After cheap breakfast and too much coffee my contact and I headed towards one of the Zapatista roadblocks on the edge of the city, as the rest of the town and unknowing tourists prepared for the national holiday and military procession in remembrance of call to arms in 1910.

Since 8am every way in and out of San Cristobal was blocked by contingent of highly organised members of EZLN. Banners denounced President Fox, Oaxaca State Governor Ulises Ruiz, the Federal Police and Military. Ropes held by masked individuals blocked the roads and planks of wood with nails hammered through prevented any vehicles forcing their way through the human barricades.

Every half an hour the roadblocks were opened for up to 15 minutes, often less. One opening only allowed one bus to enter the city. Then the blockades returned and the traffic from three different directions was halted again.

This action is planned to continue till nightfall. Up to this point there has been no aggression from state or local authorities, or from crazed road rage mutant’s intent on ramming the blockades. All is peaceful, and incredibly successful.

Now, in San Cristobal, the celebrations for the revolution are in swing. Tourists click away and film, with no idea what is occurring just minutes away in a taxi. Fireworks explode at regular intervals, children in bright colours dance and sing, often to strange traditional songs that have been updated with a drum-n-bass beat, blasting from huge speakers strapped to the back of pickup trucks.

El Generale Dogsbody must have gone back home, so she missed out on lunch, but I'm sure she'll be back to try and rip more out of my right trouser leg.

Things here are calm and safe for me, The Beatles playing in base camp, and Nachos slowly digesting in my stomach. The only incident was last night when I returned to my safe house. From a shop doorway a man civilian clothing stepped out and started following me. Under his jacket I could hear a police radio squawking. I walked round the block to see if he followed. He got to the corner, watching me, then disappeared. Only then did I head towards my bed and well needed sleep.

Oscar Beard
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21.11.2006 03:51

Oscar Beard