The talk lasted for about two hours and was broken up by various short films explaining the background in which the events in Oaxaca have been able to unfold. In the beginning a short explanation was given about the various ways in which the Oaxacian and other Mexican communities have managed to self-organise in line with some of the indigenous traditions. The talk moved on to explain in some detail about the free trade agreements which the US and other industrialised nations had hoped to push through in the mid 90's in order to pretty much 'suck central America dry' of its natural resources, intimidate indigenous communities to relocate and exploit the peoples as its workers. Basically the same old story as everywhere else: corporations moving in to make money off the backs of others. On many occassions, corporations hand in hand with governments have been able to force though changes in domestic laws to enable them to operate their plans more quickly and efficiently. This creates situations in which the interest of business and transnational capital is put well before that of the people.
An example in more recent years has been the Puebla Panama Plan, which aims to create an immense infrastructure network in Southern Mexico in order to transport natural resources and goods a lot quicker through the region. An interesting point are the oil and gas pipelines, which pretty much move from the resource-rich southern regions up north, straight into the US. In 2001 the Mexican president Vicente Fox officially announced the plan as 'bringing development to the so-called "backward south" of Mexico and to promote regional intigration'. Since then, public resources have been used to create, extend and modernize infrastructure for transportation and energy. These projects' primary beneficiaries are enormous transnational corporations governed by the logic of free plundering - otherwise known as free trade.....(..)
Through the Puebla Panama Plan a lot more was explained about why the people in Oaxaca are generally fed up of the repression which has come from the authorties in response to a growing social movements to counter these corporate 'plundering' of their region. Various videos were shown about the repression by the Mexican authority as well as the role the mainstream media had played in portaying the protesters in a bad light. The video showed mainstream news readers openly saying they thought the police should come down hard to restore 'law and order' to the region.
Finally, when asked what we could do for the people in Oaxaca here in the UK, M said that as well as getting together some money, organise an action or inform more people about what is going on, the most important thing is to recognise that the struggle of Oaxaca is a struggle fought all around the globe. He said people should be involved with things happening to them locally and pointed out the Sumac as an obvious one.
To me it seems that the story of what is happening in Oaxaca, in Mexico and in Central America is really one of similar stories from around the world. Although we are all engaged in our own issues and campaigns, the struggle is Oaxaca is one which represents that. Therefor I believe that it is important for us to support the Oaxacians in whatever way we can. We have access to a lot of resources and for us to get together some money, organise an action or inform more people about what is going on, is the least we could do in comparison to the repression, intimidation and violence the people in the Southern Mexican region are subjected through on an almost daily basis.
I don't know how other people felt about the talk, but although I left the Sumac feeling a little tired after haven taken in a lot of information, I at the same time felt inspired about what the people in Oaxaca are fighting for and ways for us to link it in with what we're doing here as well as looking at ways to support them.
To read more about the situation in Oaxaca, please see: http://indymedia.org.uk/oaxaca/