Oaxaca and New Media, Again

My readers will forgive me for being a bit behind the times: I’ve just discovered YouTube. Yes, I’m sure there’s a lot of crap on it. But what is really interesting to me is how the images of the social conflict in Oaxaca are being repackaged, set to music, and sent out into the world with a very conscious message of international solidarity and organizing.

Todos Somos Oaxaca, to quote the title of one video–which was embedded in the home page of the southern Mexico newspapger Por Esto! this morning. This is set to a spanish-language hip-hop tune with the refrain “You won’t fail if there’s a beginning.” A similar video montage is set to an English-language punk/hip-hop tune–“renegades of the atomic age”–that invokes the “renegades” of various ages–Tom Paine, Martin Luther King. Another is set to the music of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” Not a song I grew up with, but one my slightly younger spouse tells me was the “Twist and Shout” of her cohort.

What fascinates me about these videos–beside their visceral intensity, clever juxtaposition of image and sound, and powerful presentation–is that they are both artifacts of globalization and of an emergent counterhegemonic movement against neoliberal globalization. The reach of American muscial culture is evident. But two of these videos move from images of Oaxaca to protests in support of APPO in Europe, South and North America. The message emblazoned on the frame: what can you do to help us? Join us.

This past weekend there was a new, more intense round of violence in Oaxaca as Federal Police broke up a very large, and peaceful march. Nearly 150 people were arrested and flown to prisons in other states. NarcoNews reports that prisoners have been tortured. But almost nothing in the US press.

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