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Interview with Daniel Martinez of radio APPO

by Christiaan | Oaxaca, 24-11-06

Behind the barricades of the autonomous University Benito Juarez in Oaxaca I talked with Daniel Martinez. He is involved in the APPO (Asamblea Popular de los Pueblos de Oaxaxa) and is active at the only remaining APPO-radiostation Radio Universidad 1400 AM.

?It is special to work here. We think it is important to spread our message by way of the radio. And we know by doing that we jeopardize our lifes. Look at the bulletholes spread through the building. Regularly there are attemps to turn us out of here. But we stay with full conviction.', says Daniel who is speaking about the current activities of APPO.

?Radio Universidad is the only remaining radiostation. The occupied radiostation La Ley we left voluntary because the equipment was no longer functioning. Also we gave up the occupation of Channel 9 . It was impossible for us to make tv-broadcasts because the gouvernment destroyed the transmitter. They do everything they can to silence us. That why we concentrate completly on the defense of this radiostation. Which is difficult enough.'

?On the 2th of november about 2000 policeofficers made a lot of commotion here. Afterwards the gouvernment said they only wanted to remove the barricades. The truth is very different. They tried to scare us, so we would leave. This is an autonomous university and the police is not welcome here. In spite of denials of the gouvernment several dozen policeofficers climbed over the fence and occupied the universityground for a little more than 5 minutes. That how we see it.?

?Still the intimidation is going on. The day before yesterday early in the morning the police tried to break through the last barricades. But we could stop them. Unfortunately they kidnapped 2 companeros during this action. It is a very dangerous situation because almost every night there are paramilitaries around the university. They shoot mainly in the air to scare us, but totally 17 of our brothers are killed.?

?Besides intimidation the gouvernment tries to make us look bad. Look for example at the murder of the Indymedia reporter Brad Will. At this moment the gouvernement is telling we have killed him. They say the first shot through his lungs he could have survived. And now they say we have given him a second shot to cause an international conflict. That is insane. By the way the girl you just saw was Brad's girlfriend. She came directly after his death and now she is doing mediawork. Who shot him the second time I don't know. Maybe it happened after his death. This story is to crazy to tell. We really need independent journalists like you!?

?After the death of Brad and just before the arrival of the Federal Police (PFP) the APPO went underground. We left the Zocalo voluntary. By doing that we created more time and space for us to concentrate on the future. We are not planning to start an official political party. You can see it as a social organisation which is aiming at more autonomy. You could indeed compare it with the Zapatistas. We are not going to participate in elections. Certainly not at this moment.?

?It is difficult to look at the future. We are with a lot of groups and organisations united (in APPO, translation) and it will cost a lot of time to make decisions together. Everyones voice and ideas are just as important.?

?But we agree on wanting a revolution. We want to get rid of the current legislation and we want autonomy in Oaxaca. Because we should take care of a few very important things. Like decisions made in villages. Of old we are used to talk with the whole village about important things and make decisions together. And what about nature? All the mountains you see are in danger. With the Plan Puebla Panama (freetradeagreementzone in Latijns-Amerika) the current gouvernment will give big multinationals permission to cut trees, sell our plants as medicine and plunder the earth. Do you think we can accept that??

?So for us it is very important to talk a lot with eachother, exchange ideas, organise ourselves and have our own answer ready so we can start to shape our lifes again. Apart from the gouvernement.

And the radiostation is a very important part. It is our voice. With it we can reach people and give eachother ideas to think about.?

After the interview Daniel showed me around in the studio. It was heavy secured and in all corners gasmasks were piled up. They seemed fairly prepared for an attack. Making pictures was of course not allowed. And before I noticed I myself was sitting behind the microphone. It was really not what I wanted. Daniel said he would like to interview me so I could ask people abroad to solidarize with their struggle. I saw it as an exchange of ideas which is of course not bad.

For a daily report from Oaxaca (in dutch) go to: http://www.grassrootsprojects.com/weblog

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