Last November the travel agent I booked my Christmas travel experience with advised against going to Oaxaca or Chiapas, saying those states are very dangerous.
I went with her recommendation and visited Morelia, Guanajuato and San Migel. But, in the back of my mind, I knew I would eventually arrive in Oaxaca and Chiapas, and here I am.
Oaxaca is mountainous, rugged and its vegetation is lush. For at least 10,000 years people have lived in this area. They have lived in isolated villages. Unlike many indigineous people the people of Oaxaca are not nomadic, staying put created very unique cultures, values and languages.
Although there are sixteen different ethnic groups registered, the number is deceptive because the mezoamericans of Oaxaca do not identify with an enthicity, but with their village. Governing this state is a complex job, perhaps an impossible task.
Guatemala was once part of Mexico. Parts of Chiapas are self governing. The struggle for, at the very least, fair treatment continues here in Oaxaca.
In 2006 the anger over the oppressive state government boiled over. It began peacefully in October, with a teacher's strike that got out of hand. The violence continued until December 2006 when the Federales intervened.
An indy journalist, there are a surprising number of wannabe journalists wandering the world that don't have the good sense to stay out of harms way, Brad Will, was killed. There were many injuries and a few other people killed, but it's Brad Will whose name is still in the press.
Who killed Mr. Will is still a matter in dispute, his parents think the wrong person has been convicted.
The Zapotec and Mixtec people were, and are, the largest population groups in the region. In 1486 they were conquered by the Aztecs. In 1521 the Spanish invaded. I use the word conquered loosely because in actual fact the people have maintained their culture and values by integrating the values and cultures of their conquerers with their own.
They want, and are managing to get, poco un poco (little by little) the right to rule their villages.
The Santo Domingo Cultural Center was once a monastery.
The top photo is of a 10,000 year old artifact. This artifact, along with thousands more are housed in the Santo Domingo cultural center, which was once a Catholic monastery. Like so many buildings it was Catholic, then during the Mexican war of Independence became a soldiers barracks, then given back to the Catholic church. Personally I think Benito Juarez did the right thing by expelling most of the Catholic clerics. There were too many grand cathedrals and churches built and too much forced conversion. Like Juarez, I believe in power to the people.