The first question I'm usually asked these days is,
"What made you decide to live in Oaxaca, Mexico?"
This brings to mind some dialogue from the movie Casablanca:
Captain Louis Renault (Claude Rains):
What in heaven's name brought you to Casablanca?
Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart):
My health. I came to Casablanca for the waters.
The waters? What waters? We're in the desert!
I was misinformed.
My daughter, wife and I didn't move here back in July of 2006 for the waters, but for a year-long sabbatical. What we didn't come for was an exploding political situation, but we got one anyway. Since May 2006 the teachers of Oaxaca (pronounced wah-HA-ka) have been encampment in the town center (Zocalo). The new governor, Ulises Ruiz Ortiz, unlike his predecessors, decided not to agree to their demands. Instead he sent in riot police in an attempt to forcibly expel them. This attack completely backfired. Not only were the strikers not evicted, their demands and their numbers expanded. They were joined by a larger coalition of unions and all agreed the strike would not end unless governor Ulises stepped down. Since June, tensions (our own included) rose and fell with periodic police actions against strikers, but they didnít budge. After more that 5 months of unrest, the xit hit the fan. On Friday, October 27th the governorís thugs attacked strikers killing 3 teachers and an American journalist. This pressured Mexico's president into ordering federal troops into Oaxaca the next day. The Policia Federal Preventiva (PFP) as the federal troops are called, attacked the strikers and took over the Zocalo. As of this writing the town center is no longer an encampment of teachers, but has been replaced by an encampment of military forces. The governor has refused to leave office, even as pressure mounts from all sides, including his own party. So our move has been everything we'd hoped for-- barricades, mayhem and lots and lots of riot police, all trumped by everything else this adventure has to offer. Water or desert, Oaxaca remains a fantastic choice.
I'll be continually updating this to bring things up to what's happening these days.
In brief, as it stands now all is calm-- so don't think Oaxaca is still a dangerous exploding scene. As we enter our second year it has returned to the beautiful town it had been before the conflict and with Day of the Dead around the corner, it is a fantastic tourist destination.