The Slow Burning Fuse

an atheisitic anarchistic scorcher

don’t take orders / take over

During the rebellion in Oaxaca in 2006, people without prior experience organized themselves to run occupied radio and television stations. They were motivated by the social need for free means of communication. The March of Pots and Pans, the legendary women’s march on August 1, 2006, culminated with thousands of women spontaneously taking over the state-run television station. Inspired by the sudden sense of power they had won by rebelling against a traditionally patriarchal society, they took over Channel 9, which continuously slandered the social movements while claiming to be the channel of the people. At first, they made the engineers help them run the station, but soon they were learning how to do it themselves. One woman recounted:

I went daily to the channel to stand guard and help out. The women were organized into different commissions: food, hygiene, production, and security. One thing I liked is that there were no individual leaders. For each task there was a group of several women in charge. We learned everything from the beginning. I remember somebody asking who could use a computer. Then many of the younger girls stepped forward, saying, “me, me, I can!” In Radio Universidad, they announced that we needed people with technical skills, and more people came to help. In the beginning, they were filming headless people, you know. But the experience at Channel 9 showed us that where there’s a will, there’s a way. Things got done, and they got done well.

In the short time [three weeks] that Channel 9 was running, until Governor Ulises commanded that the antennas be destroyed, we managed to spread a lot of information. Movies and documentaries were shown that you could never have imagined seeing on TV otherwise. About different social movements, about the student massacre in Tlatelolco in Mexico City in 1968, the massacres in Aguas Blancas in Guerrero and Acteal in Chiapas, about guerrilla movements in Cuba and El Salvador. At this time, Channel 9 wasn’t just the women’s channel anymore. It was the channel of all the people. The ones participating made their own programs as well. There was a youth program and a program where people from the indigenous communities participated. There was a program of denouncements, where anyone could come and denounce how the government had treated them. A lot of people from the different neighborhoods and communities wanted to participate, there was hardly enough airtime for all of them.

After the occupied television station was taken off the air, the movement responded by occupying all eleven commercial radio stations in Oaxaca. The homogeneity of commercial radio was replaced by myriad voices — a radio station for university students, one for the women’s groups, one radio station occupied by the anarchists from a punk squat — and there were more indigenous voices on the radio than ever before. Within a short time, people in the movement decided to return most of the radio stations to their self-styled owners, but kept control of two of them. Their goal was not to suppress the voices that opposed them, as artificial as commercial voices are, but to win themselves the means to communicate. The remaining radio stations operated successfully for months, until government repression shut them down. One university student involved in taking over, running, and defending the radio stations said:

After the takeover, I read an article that said that the intellectual and material authors of the takeovers of the radios weren’t Oaxacan, that they came from somewhere else, and that they received very specialized support. It said that it would have been impossible for anyone without previous training to operate the radios in such a short amount of time, because the equipment is too sophisticated for just anyone to use. They were wrong.

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This entry was posted on August 29, 2018 by in anarchy, art, Uncategorized and tagged , .
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