The Zocalo is the heart of Oaxaca de Juarez city and during times of political unrest for reform, this is where protestors will set up tents, camp out and occupy the area.
Some protest are small and will be about the continual political miscarriages of justice such as the rich / poor divide and other times they can escalate into harsher protests, which can bring the city to a standstill with road blockades and sometimes violent clashes – there was such a protest in 2006. This protest about union disputes by striking teachers had a huge economic impact on the tourist industry for the city. Throughout Mexico these types of protests will be reflected in other major cities to gain maximum impact and news coverage.
For our visit to Oaxaca City we had expected to see protests in the Zocalo due to the well published news event and coverage of the Missing 43. This would mean as gringo tourists we wouldn’t be able to enjoy the beauty and bustling nature of the Zocalo as one would expect. If you have seen any travel / cooking shows about Mexico they all turn up in the Zocalo (central city plaza) and a celebrity will cook up their version of the local speciality a chocolate chilli based sauce ‘Mole’ dish.
Before we left for Mexico we had heard on the world news about the 43 missing student teachers from Ayotzinapa, which in 2014 you can’t quite believe what has happened to them, as it is something you would think could only happen in a movie.
So our enjoyment of the Zocalo as tourists was of course the last things on our minds and it certainly opened our eyes to the call for Justice for these 43 young students.
There is graffiti on the majority of streets. During recent protest marches scribbled graffiti has been scrawled onto walls with spray cans all along the designated route.
We saw graffiti on the walls of the beautiful Church of Santo Domingo, which was being rapidly removed by city workers.
However the ‘Missing 43’ should and will not be forgotten, so there is plenty of graffiti to remind not only the locals but tourists alike of this horrendous crime. Some is pretty graphic in its wording geared towards its perpetrators while the majority is inscribed onto the walls simply as ‘Faltan 43’ – They are missing.
Please click on the links here for further details about the 43 student teachers.