01 February 2008

Hashing it Out in Oaxaca

I'm a reliable one for blogging what I think in the heat of the moment, hitting the publish button, and the next day wondering whether I actually believe what I've most recently written. Things being a little hot in Oaxaca right now (not a lot hot, just a little), you can imagine that I've had plenty to try and wrap my brain around. So it's only natural that I've spent a chunk of time today hashing over what I wrote last night.

Yesterday I suggested that while narcotrafficking is the easy guess for an attack on the scale of what happened Wednesday morning at El Tequio--bad men, machine guns, multiple vehicles squealing away from the scene of the crime--it wasn't the only guess. While everything I read from the few who were writing pointed at narcotrafficking, even though the government wasn't really pushing this story yet, I wanted to take a moment to think about other possibilities.

The two or three that came to mind were the EPR (People's Revolutionary Army), a small but widely known terrorist organization; angry or vengeful victims, wronged by the deceased, Alejandro Barrita Ortiz, or their families, seeking reprisals; or splinter groups spun out from the unresolved conflict of 2006 who wanted to make a strong statement (the strongest) about the current state of unrest in Oaxaca. This last I saw as a possibility because of the coincidental announcement that Flavio Sosa would face new charges in Oaxacan courts, even though the federal government has told the state to let this one go.

Today I talked myself out of all those stories. Of course it has to be narcotrafficking. First of all, people who know more than I do about Oaxaca tell me so. Secondly, the officer killed was at the top of a division of police who would certainly have everything to do with narcotrafficking in Oaxaca, and you don't get to the top of that division by playing the straight and narrow. Most likely the guy got in too deep, got in trouble, and got what you get when you play those games. Lastly, do I really think a small band of guerrillas , who usually blow up oil pipelines, are really taking on the role of assassins? (Could be--I actually don't know much about the EPR). For that matter, do the friends and families of victims of repression in 2006, or small time anarchists, have access to so much firepower? I mean, AK-47s, 9mms, .380s . . . It seems like a lot.

Well, there you go. I was satisfied with my answer. Then I came home from work today and checked my email, and I discovered that both Ronald Waterbury and Nancy Davies, two of the voices I count on to keep me informed, were also questioning the narcotrafficking story. In a correspondence on the Oaxaca Study Forum listserv, Ronald Waterbury agrees with other readers that there may be many ways this thing actually falls out, and that, in the end, we may never know who is responsible. Similarly, Nancy Davies writes that

The possibilities are "organized crime", i.e. narcotrafficking, which to my thinking does not mean Barrita was fighting crime but was probably involved in it; the second possibility is the APPO which I don't beleive and which they have denied, because of their pacific stance; a third is the EPR or other civilian guerrillas.

Sounds familiar. If Ron and Nancy are wondering, then I'll come full circle again and leave myself open to all my questions and considerations from last night, without worrying that I'm some kind of conspiracy freak or skepto-pessimist or far-fetched daydreamer. I mean, I sort of am, but isn't that the point of keeping a blog?

In the meantime I think we have to leave off with these words, from Ron Waterbury, for now: "Tal vez nunca vamos a saber por seguro." Perhaps we will never know for sure.

NOTE: Nancy Davies points out in her recent update that the PolicĂ­a Auxiliar, Bancaria, Industrial y Comercial is a private police force with government affiliations, and not a branch of the state or federal police, as I had originally thought. Sorry for any confusion.