APPO “Leader” arrested…? - 12.05.2006

As confusion continues in the international community about what exactly is happening in the southern state of Oaxaca, more confusion is thrown into the mess.

AP claimed in this article that the man who was “largely in control of the protest movement,” was arrested today in Mexico City. Unfortunately this, and other articles by the AP, particularly by Rebecca Romero, have been slanted and largely based in fantasy if not outright falsification.

In fact, rather than being the “leader of the movement,” any time I have mentioned Flavio’s name to local Oaxaquenos, my comments and questions have been greeted with laughter and derision.

Previously to this month Flavio and a group of other party leaders, largely from Marxist/Leninist/even Stalinist slants, have been “directing the movement.”

However, in a conference in November, the previous leadership of APPO was dissolved and a representative leadership council was appointed. This leadership is more representative of the Oaxacan populace and has increased the influence of the indigenous populace of Oaxaca.

As Oaxaca is considered to be at least 60% indigenous, this move is expected to only strengthen, diversify, and elongate the life of APPO. Unfortunately the mainstream press, which is now largely absent from Oaxaca, has repeatedly missed the intricacies of the social movement here.

On the 25th, a march which clearly consisted of tens of thousands, was reduced to hundreds or, at best, 4000, in reports from the mainstream press. It leads one to question whether the reporters who filed these stories were even on the ground in Oaxaca.

Reuters’ article on today’s events was not much better, describing Flavio Sosa as “the most well known leader of the Popular Assembly of the Oaxacan People, “ without bearing in mind the question of what made him the “most well known” or whether he in fact deserved that title.

This kind of one-sided reporting, lacking depth, context, or investigation, greatly smacks of the on-going problems of reporting in Baghdad. Last week, while we were stillin Oaxaca, we were repeatedly informed that journalists and independent documentarians were fleeing the city of Oaxaca, amidst rising repression and disappearances of various activists and others in the city of Oaxaca.

Over the next few days, I’ll endeavor to provide a more nuanced look at the city of Oaxaca and the six month long popular movement.

Rather than a “protest movement” or something which has been “largely marginalized” to use the words of various news outlets, the indigenous and other supporters of APPO have retired to their local communities, reorganizing and determining what their next steps will be, in light of the new president, Felipe Calderon, largely expected to attempt an even more massive crackdown in the coming weeks.