On Sunday, we took our Tsuru out for some exercise. We visited one of the churches in the municipio of Ocotlán de Morelos restored by the foundation started by, and named after, the late painter Rodolfo Morales, a native of that area.

It is a small church on a muddy street in a suburb of Ocotlán, without the dramatic architecture and generous setting of the restorations at Zagache and in the center of the city, but is nonetheless worth visiting. The exterior displays Maestro Rodolfo’s signature colors of yellow, orange and blue, and the interior is restful. The next three photos were taken there.


As usual, there are two different versions of what went on this past week in Cancún. The first comes from the “main stream media”, which reported that the conference failed to accomplish its goals due to disagreement among the delegates. Led by China, Brazil, Chile and some others, the developing countries and the yet-to-be-developing countries broke with the “big four” (the U.S., the E.U., Canada and Japan) over many issues, with the big one being agricultural dumping by the haves, forcing formers out of business in the have-nots.

Also extensively reported were the attempts by some of the folks to breach the walls of security set up by the thousands of police – including U.S. anti-terrorist specialists – to insulate the delegates from the rabble.

Not reported were the many activities going on all over downtown Cancún: an “alternative conference” to share information and plan strategy for a “people’s trade protocol” that rejects growth at the expense of social stability; a “fair trade” exposition and convention, and dozens of teach-ins and demonstrations by non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) of national and international levels.

Under-reported was the refusal of the Mexican government to issue visas to opposition leaders from several countries, the most prominent of which was Evo Morales, who came in second in the last Bolivian presidential election, and the “special entry tax” of $100 U.S. dollars charged non-delegates. José Bovey was denied an exit visa by the French government, saving presidentVicente Fox the embarrassment of denying him entry.

On Monday (yesterday) the NY Times summarized the conference in exactly the mode expected: the poorer nations, unable to handle “progress”, bit off their noses to spite their faces. The main assumption in this little bit of twisted logic was that there are only two choices available: take a few crumbs, or get no cake at all.

NarcoNews, on the other hand, published a “third way” article. It seems that while the WTO honchos were hunkered down in their embattled resort hotels, other world leaders – including the above-mentioned Evo Morales – were meeting in Caracas. The result of their confab is a call for a pan-Latin parley in the Venezuelan capital from the 11th through the 14th of October, to form a power bloc of indigenous, farmers, and landless peasants for change. With the expected (though perhaps unofficial) support of the governments of Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Venezuela, this could become a force to be reckoned with. The meeting is sure to come up with a “people, not investments” economic agenda. It will become part of a larger global consensus that the vast majority of the world’s nations – along with the have-nots within the richest nations – will have to develop counterstrategies, together and individually, to save themselves, because the big four, rhetoric aside, has no good intentions for them.

All this by way of saying what I’ve been saying all along: the main stream media, at least when it comes to the area of the world I know a little about, are not telling us the whole truth; and often don’t tell us any truth at all. If you want to have a better understanding of what’s happening, you need to read the alternative press: NarcoNews, John Ross, IndyMedia, NACLA, and others.


A few days ago, a mob of hundreds of vendors descended on the streets in and around, and the walkways through the Zócalo. The presidente municipal (mayor) expressed surprise and dismay, but as of today (Tuesday) it wasn’t clear if he was prepared to do anything. I stopped and asked one of the waiters at the Primavera sidewalk café, which was totally empty at noon on Sunday (see photo) – it is usually packed with folks listening to the state band, whose space was appropriated by booths selling jeans, pirated cd’s and plastic gewgaws – when he thought they would leave. Maybe by the eighteenth (Thursday), he said.

On the other (east) side of the square, the whole street was taken up with kiddy rides, including a miniature roller coaster. Francisco Toledo, local more-than-middle-aged infant terrible, arts patron, and big cajuna of the movement to preserve the historic center, was beside himself.

Monday night the nation celebrated the “Grito” (shout) of father Miguel Hidalgo as he launched the (unsuccessful) first revolution against Spanish rule in 1810: Viva México. The mayor and his entourage delivered the Mexican flag belonging to the city of Oaxaca to the Governor, to wave from the ceremonial balcony in front of the state palace. He had to alter the traditional route, past the Cathedral, because of the puestos (booths). Incidentally, he only delivered the flag to the army, in the downstairs hall, and they then took it upstairs, to the governor. The two of them do not get along (although this is probably the traditional way to do it…).

As I write this, the annual military parade is passing in front of the government palace. On the television, I can see that the street circling the Zócalo has been cleared out, but the square itself, and the streets emanating from the square, are still filled with tarpaulins and puestos. My guess is that by nightfall, the vendors will have all come back.


Those of you who have been with us for a while may have noticed that we have studiously avoided all mention of the English Language Lending Library since the first of the year. The reason has been our reluctance, as sometime gadflies and dissidents to put our two cents’ worth into what we have come to regard as a no-win situation in which, no matter what we say, we get seriously vilified by someone or the other.

News, however, is news, and reluctantly we are forced by events to report the latest developments.

The current Board has been unable, since the highly successful Christmas day party (which we organized, to prove a point which was then ignored), to raise enough money to keep up with expenses. The situation, in which the Board members appear – to many we have asked – to be far more interested in blaming each other than in doing the work, has deteriorated.

These young women have only one bowl to display and sell their chiles. Every time they sell one batch, they have to repair to the church yard and make up another. They are dressed in the traje (costume) of Tlacolula. Diana took this picture on Sunday market day. The growth in the market over the last couple of years is enormous. Unfortunately, like most markets, there are fewer puestos selling artesania (hand crafts), and more selling plastics and blue jeans.

The latest blow to Library finances was the collapse of plans to hold the annual fall rummage sale, usually the largest money raising event of the year. Normally scheduled for October, the perennial host, Casa Colonial, postponed it until January. The Board president’s wife decided to have it at the Library instead, in August, but failed to rally enough volunteers to pull it off. It is now in limbo.

In the midst of all this, the Board president and his wife, who serves on the Board in spite of a constitutional prohibition against two members of the same household serving at the same time, have called for a special membership meeting on October 2. The purpose as announced is a vote of “no confidence” in the Board. Period.

The president is English. In England, the government falls on a vote of no confidence. In Mexico, it doesn’t mean a thing. Robert’s Rules of Order (which the constitution names as the authority) is very specific about this: special meetings may be called to vote on one – and only one – proposition, which must be announced in the call for the meeting. As announced, the “no confidence” vote stands alone: no further action can be taken. Assuming they intend, for a change, to follow the constitution, this will be an exercise in name-calling and little else. At best a waste of time, and at worst an announcement to the rest of the community that this Library is in danger of going the way of the San Miguel library: law suits, rampant egotism, and for some, deportation or jail.

Watch for my report of the meeting in the next Newsletter.


As promised, here is the url for Germán Osorio, our local abogado:http://www.realoaxaca.com/german.html