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[Notice: All images in this section are (c) Copyright Saundra Sturdevant, 2006]

Embroidery and Consensus


Saundra Sturdevant---Images & Text



The strengths of the levantamiento reside in the culture of traditional and contemporary values and practices, interacting and relating, of everyday life. It is this community that informed, sustained, and directed the levantamiento. This seciton and the images and discussion of Usos y Costumbres (Uses and Customs) that accompany the APPO (Asambla Popular de Pueblos de Oaxaca) section serve as an introduction to the culture.

Participants of levantamiento---direct non-violent actions, occupations of state and local government and corporate buildings and offices, erection of barricades throughout the city, sitting in with residents opposing road construction, gathering signatures on petitions, marches to Mexico City, demo on violence against women, hunger strikes, mega-marches of 250,000 to 400,000---are the people of the encampments, their relatives, and neighbors.

The first encampment began with Teacher's Local 22 striking and occupying the zocolo on May 21, 2006. APPO established the second encampment at Santo Domingo Inglesia, four blocks from the zocolo, on October 29. This encampment flourished until its destruction and burning by the PFP (Federal Preventive Police) during their nighttime carnage of November 25, 2006.




Thousands took part in these encampments
Many came from other areas of Oaxaca
Women brought children
They brought clothing and bedding
Slept on cardboard, mattresses, in tents
On old overstuffed sofas


During the day
Babies nursed
Youths chased each other
Teens hung, read, talked
Participated in actions
In squads spray painted
Put up recently made banners
Virtually every available wall space
Alive with their spirit


Vendors of Las Noticias and La Jornada
Bought and read daily
Community copies
At tables, hang from ropes
Images posted on walls
Political documents circulated
Many read novels
An active literate culture


Sharing and discussion with others
Talking story
Talking politics
Sitting in groups, standing, lounging, eating
Above all
Listening to the opinions of others
Consensus process at work


Every woman embroiders
Age and class no barrier
Traditional patters of flowers, birds, trees
On tablecloths, towels, blouses
Round wooden frame of hand embroidery
Embroidery and talking story
Building stones of consensus


Blue and yellow plastic tarps
Attached to huge, mature trees
Provide shade and protection
Ropes securing them
Works of art have no signature
For sale and for the Levantamiento
One long line holds images of
Dead, detained, freed, disappeared
Human Rights Table
Staffed thru evening
Citizens come
Sign petitions
Inquire about missing
Name, age, address, last seen, family contact
Others tell story of brutality, detention, torture
Experienced or witnessed
Give name, date, where, what occurred
Gatherings of misery and courage


Videos on monitors
Confrontations with PFP
Courageous defense of Radio Universidad
Families come to watch
Bring children
All transfixed
Nearby music from powerful speakers
Songs of Levantamiento
Past and present


Women cook in community kitchens
Food free to participants
Always after rallies
And those in need or just plain hungry
Bottled water arrives several times a day
On tops of cars, beds of trucks
Family, neighbors, concerned citizens
Bring in rice, beans, vegetables
Oil, strings of garlic, peppers
Squash balanced on the shoulder
The community's contributions


Men bring stacks of fireword
To fuel the very large cooking pots
And to make the nights less chilly
Provide organized security with
Knowledge of the encampment
Their bodies
Cell phones
Without weapons


Encampment at night
Safe and festive
Families together in the street
Strolling, talking with neighbors
Children close at hand
In the dim light of shadows
Sweetness of youths holding each other


Day of the Dead celebrated
Prominent are names of those recently
"Died for Oaxaca"
Adults pay their respects
"Vale mas morir luchando que vivir de rodillas"
("Better to die struggling than to live on one's
Children play
Life force is glorious
As is death
In the street
Vendors sell their wares


Gandhi's image
Medical center across the street
No Violence its faith and practice
"Brigada de Socorro" (Brigade of Succor)
Serpent and red cross
Dr. Bertha Munoz
Red and black wrap
Colors or birth and soil
Colors of life
One of the spiritual sources
Arising from and guiding Levantamiento
Her time spent in the hospitals, streets, clinics
And Radio Universidad
Do not provoke, be on-violent
Words and presence
Indefatigable and clear
Taken to heart and practiced
The words of Benito Juarez
Oaxacano, Zapotec, president once
"El respecto al derecho ajeno es la paz"
(Respect for the Rights of Others is Peace)