Demo backs Oaxaca strike
With clashes between protesters and police a daily happening in the Mexican city of Oaxaca, 60 human rights activists gathered at Yonge and Bloor to speak out against this ongoing crackdown on a popular uprising.
On Monday, November 20, the global Oaxaca Day of Solidarity , demonstrators rallied outside the Mexican Tourism Board in Toronto demanding that its officials stop hiding the social and political realities of Oaxaca from travellers. A Mexican teachers' strike that started last May has since morphed into a much larger protest movement demanding that state governor Ulises Ru'z Ort'z resign over charges of election-rigging and violent dissent-quashing.
In June, Ortiz sent over 1,000 state police into Oaxaca city centre before dawn to break up the protest camps using tear gas and clubs. To date, over a dozen people have been killed and 300 detained, while 60 are missing.
"Mexico is being sold to tourists as sitting on a beach, but there's another Mexico," says Mike Hurwitz, a Canadian supporter of the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca . "There are human rights abuses going on and detentions that are unjustified legally. We do have power by telling the Oaxacan state government that we're not going to stand for it and will take our business elsewhere."
Educators for Peace and Justice , a steering committee of 20 Toronto teachers, notes that both Oaxacan and Canadian teachers are fighting not just for wages, but for a decent education system and funding for schools.
"If the situation in Oaxaca was translated to the situation in Toronto, it would mean that we'd have encampments at Queen's Park or Dundas Square," says EPJ spokesperson Tim Heffernan . "We'd have to march to Ottawa, as teachers in Oaxaca are marching to Mexico City to get justice."
The Mexican Tourism Board declined comment, but at the Mexican Embassy in Ottawa communications director Mauricio Guerrero argues that the federal government in Mexico had to intervene to provide "security [for] the population of the city in order to bring the situation back to normal."
Meanwhile, the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) says it's monitoring the the violence in Oaxaca and call for "rapid resolution of the ongoing crisis."
Says DFAIT spokesperson Ambra Dickie, "The Canadian Embassy has informed both federal and state level authorities of our concern over the human rights situation in Oaxaca."
Hiphop leaves out violence
Often slammed for glamorizing guns and murder, hiphoppers shifted away from stereotypes and spat out rhymes of L.O.V.E. at the Leave Out ViolencE event Friday night (November 17) at York U.
The showcase of breakdancers, beatboxers and rappers was trying to raise about 2 grand to kick-start Hip Hop Away From Violence, a step-by-step kit that high schools across the GTA could use to run their own urban talent shows.
"There's too much negativity right now, whether it comes to concerts or clubs," says LOVE president Michael Prosserman . "We're just here to show people something they've never seen before, which is positive hiphop."
About 30 performers in their teens and 20s, including jugglers, drummers and wushu students, did their thing in front of a crowd of 350, hosted by Michie Mee , the first Canadian rapper signed to a U.S. label.
Graffiti artist Sean Conway , who auctioned off one of his pieces at the event, points out that a lot of inner city youth have a hard time expressing themselves in positive ways and end up turning to gangs. "It doesn't cost a lot of money to learn to breakdance or paint graffiti," he says. "It's a great alternative to hockey or baseball, where you might need more resources."
But the Friends in Trouble Youth Initiative , a group that targets at-risk kids in the Jane-Finch area and across the city, says while the LOVE event has merit, it's missing its target. The people involved in the show or out in the audience aren't actually the ones causing the trouble, says the group's executive director, Jamal Clarke .
"We need to get the real youth who are in the situation," says Clarke. Many of the kids Clarke works with sell drugs or their bodies to get by, but Clarke is gunning to give them experience running a for-profit recording studio called Incubator Studios .
Meanwhile, LOVE's Prosserman is convinced his program will have an impact, and wants to see it branch out to local universities and colleges if all goes well. Says Prosserman, "It will empower students to make a difference."