Interview with Oaxacan activist and journalist Doctora Berta

Berta Caceres et al. wearing costumes

Since her return to Oaxaca from exile, Doctora Berta has held open meetings with people who participated in the 2006 social movement to make a collective analysis of the APPO and its possible directions. In an interview, she spoke about the impotence and discouragement that she’s observed in the meetings, especially with regards to perspectives on the APPO and its reorganization.

What’s your legal situation now?

Last week they gave me a definitive protective writ, but it really doesn’t guarantee anything because they can redefine the charges against me, in other words, just change the names and get another arrest warrant.

Video by mano vuelta (November 25, 2008)

What’s your view of the social movement since you’ve come back to Oaxaca?

Out of the thousands who participated in 2006, only about 10% are still active. That’s understandable. Why? It’s simple. First of all, fear. Acts of repression and intimidation are still common even though they’re not quite the same as in 2006 and 2007. They’ve heavily armed the police who are on patrol everywhere. It’s as though we’re still living in a state of siege. And then there’s the disillusionment. The fact that such an enormous mobilization occurred and that the movement lasted for so many months, yet wasn’t able to overthrow the mal-governor even with all our force, has been a tremendous letdown, so people say “See? We didn’t achieve anything. All we got were prisoners, death, and people who always want to get something out of all this.” On top of that, there’s a lack of trust. People look the level of disorganization and the fact that most aren’t responding like they used to. A change is going to take time and this implies constant work in the communities, neighborhoods and barrios in order to regain credibility and build trust.

What direction should the social movement take? I mean, how should it reorganize itself?

The reality is that it has to start from the ground up, not from the top down. It has to come from the neighborhoods, the barrios, the communities. Each neighborhood has its own problems, so the work it takes on must be based on its own needs. There’s a lot of distrust towards a lot of the political organizations, and that makes people drop out of them, so it’s the people themselves that have to begin to organize right where they live.  What’s your perception of the people you’ve been meeting with every Sunday?

They feel impotent and disillusioned.