Monday, January 14, 2008

La Lucha

In the Plaza de Armas, a couple of blocks from here, is one of the town's main government buildings. Situated right outside, for most of the last three years, is what has got to be the most desultory protest movement I've ever seen. Every day at about 11AM, a dozen or so students from the Movimiento Antorchista (which, being Mexican, is of course also promoting a beauty pageant) would march down to the square from their house three blocks away, carrying a banner demanding freedom for Cristina Rosas Illescas. (You can read about her case here. As silly as I think the protest is, the cause is pretty outrageous.) At 11AM, the square is almost entirely empty save for a handful of tourists and some street sweepers. The students would arrive, make a longwinded and impassioned megaphone-enhanced speech to a handful of tourists and some street sweepers, then move to the side of the square, prop up the banner, and play hackysack for the next 8 hours.

At 7PM, the kids get up, out comes the megaphone, the speech is repeated to a slightly larger group of tourists, and they all head home where, presumably, there's an Xbox or two. This goes on seven days a week, 52 weeks a year, since early 2005. Their outrage actually seems well-placed and I suppose I'm on their side in a not-getting-involved kind of way, but as protests go, this one has been about as effective as an internet petition.

And then last month, Cristina Rosas finally went free. I'm sure the kids would like to take credit for this, but in fact, a judge ordered her released months ago, and the government has just been dragging its feet. Whatever. Now the kids can declare victory, make an impassioned farewell speech before a couple dozen tourists, and get their ugly banners out of our beautiful square, right?

Of course not!. They're still there, but with new banners. For a couple days, the banner called on the government to "grant all our demands!" Someone must have decided that this was unacceptably vague, because now they've added another spelling out exactly what they're demanding: the demand subsidized food, computers and books. Which is what I've been demanding for years, to no avail. I'm thinking of joining the Movement, to see if I can't get me a piece of that.


Anonymous said...

They have been doing that since 1997, when PRI lost the elections, Antorcha is part of the PRI, and just as you saw it, they change their claims every time... At first people do pay them some attention, but it been 10 years since they started, so they are ignored bye everybody.

I don't take them seriously.

Anonymous said...

Hey, you GOT subsidized food, computers and books! Remember?? It was called College!