Nancy Davies' Book on Oaxaca's Popular Assembly
Pre-Order Nancy Davies' Book on Oaxaca's Popular Assembly
January 30, 2007
- Narco News Books to Publish Nancy Davies' "The People Decide: Oaxaca's Popular Assembly" in the Spring of 2007
- Pre-Order a gift copy of the book's first edition (and see the cover art by Sanya Hyland) at The Fund for Authentic Journalism web page:
Publisher, Narco News
When on May 25, 2006 Nancy Davies published a reporter's notebook entry on The Narcosphere titled "The Desperate Government in Oaxaca" few observers– other than Davies – saw the regime of Governor Ulises Ruiz Ortiz as desperate.
Ruiz, since coming to power in 2004, had run roughshod over social movements, imprisoned political opponents (the subject of two Narco News video newsreels last February, "Prisoners of 'Democracy'" and "Marcos Goes to Jail"), violently attacked opposition journalists, and the movements themselves were historically divided. The teachers' union known as Section 22 went on strike as it had every May 22 for the past quarter-century, but few expected that the 2006 strike would amount to anything more than modest gains.
Davies began what would become more than seven months of nonstop reports with an opening dispatch: "Oaxaca is a perfect example of a place where those in power see the collapse of order – their order. The violence escalates more in line with their fear than with ours. When they start beating up photographers and shoving around elderly women, they must be frantic."
More than seven months later, Oaxaca is world-renowned for the rebellion through which people took back control of the state capitol and other municipalities for more than four months, chased out the repressive state and city police corps and political bosses, seized control of the radio and television airwaves, and constructed an alternative government from below. It was on June 14, when thousands of striking teachers – who had been joined by other social movements in their Oaxaca city encampment – beat back a dawn invasion by 3,000 state and municipal police, that Davies' reports documenting the "collapse of order" began to be taken seriously.
By June 14, Davies had already reported twelve stories that charted the path toward that confrontation. Many national and international reporters then beat a path to Oaxaca. One of them, Indymedia cameraman Brad Will (1970-2006) was celebrating his 36th birthday on June 14 back in the United States when he learned of that battle. He went to Oaxaca later in the year and was assassinated on October 27 in Santa Lucia del Camino on the outskirts of Oaxaca City, after filming his gun-firing assassins. In what would also be an historic moment in Internet and alternative journalism, he filmed the final moments and his own death. Postings of his last video have clocked tens of thousands of views on Youtube (more than 20,000 have watched it here, and many more at Indymedia and other websites throughout the world).
The sensational death of a foreigner in Oaxaca brought a media frenzy that many previous assassinations of Oaxacan citizens in the struggle did not. An even larger wave of journalists, observers and activists – the good, the bad and the ugly – flocked to Oaxaca from across Mexico and the world. Their breathless accounts from the barricades focused mainly on pitched street battles with police to the point that Oaxaca seemed, from afar, to be little more than a dust bowl of wafting teargas and whizzing bottle rockets. Lost in the sensationalism were the reasons for the conflict. The professional simulators of the Commercial Media (among them, Associated Press' pathologically dishonest Rebeca Romero) served to further cloud the view of what the Oaxaca rebellion was and is about.
But day after day, behind the literal and mediated smokescreen, Nancy Davies walked the streets of the city that has been her home for most of a decade, looked and listened to the ordinary people and the extraordinary social fighters. She took notes and filed 48 reports on Narco News chronicling not just the grievances, protests and corresponding repression, but also the deeper motives and contexts that guided them. Most significantly, Davies found and archived the big story behind the conflict that others continue to ignore: The birth and growth of the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (the APPO, in its Spanish initials), now a model of resistance and grassroots democracy for the rest of Mexico and much of the world.
Davies reported prolifically yet donated her labor free of charge. To this day she has not received, nor asked for, any compensation beyond the satisfaction of getting the true story out to the world. Recently, George Salzman, in Oaxaca, and James Herod, in Boston, began to compile Davies' reports in book form. The radical social philosopher Herod is a member of the Lucy Parsons Center collective. Salzman – who has published his reports from Oaxaca on Narco News, on Counterpunch, and on his own web site – wrote an extensive introduction, based on his own eyewitness experience on the ground there. Davies wrote a special update for the book that will appear for the first time in print. I am authoring a brief preface. And they offered Narco News the opportunity to publish the book, with Davies donating her author's royalties to the project. Sanya Hyland designed the cover. The full work is presently being copy edited and the back cover designed. We expect the book to be printed and available by April, in time for a lecture tour in the Northeastern United States.
We currently have the budget to print 1,000 copies of "The People Decide: Oaxaca's Popular Assembly" but we highly suspect that as many will "fly off the shelves" before a second printing can be completed. We thus wish to establish a realistic sense of how many copies we should order of the first edition. Therefore, we are asking readers to reserve gift copies of the book with donations of $20 or more to The Fund for Authentic Journalism. That will provide us with an accurate sense of the volume to print as well as the funds to accomplish it. And it will give our readers first crack at the book. As soon as the book is out, those who pre-ordered it will receive immediate shipment.
But there's another reason why we offer the opportunity to pre-order the book. As George Salzman explained in a recent essay, Davies, the author, and he have been subjected to a cowardly and anonymous campaign of intimidation and threats by some who wish to silence their reports and commentaries. If those hiding behind the anonymous threats have any common sense at all, they might see, with this announcement, that a book featuring Davies' and Salzman's work is about to come out. The futility of threatening or attempting to harm these eloquent truth-tellers as the book already goes to press ought to be evident as counter-productive. After all, if a fraction of the number of people who watched Brad Will's final video on Youtube buy Nancy Davies' book with an introduction by George Salzman, the would- be silencers might just push the work they want hushed onto the bestseller lists and into much wider distribution than we contemplate. The work is certainly worthy of that, and Davies tells the story in a refreshingly clear manner. Even a more modest but significant number of pre-orders on the book would help construct the global safety net under these and other correspondents in Oaxaca today. It will show to the wanna-be censors what Nancy and George already know: that they are not alone.
And so we invite you to reserve your gift copy or copies of "Let The People Decide: Oaxaca's Popular Assembly" by Nancy Davies, with an introduction by George Salzman, by clicking this link to The Fund for Authentic Journalism.
When the book comes out it will cost $17 US dollars. A $20 dollar contribution will reserve you the work and get it shipped to your door. And it will also help ensure that there are enough books on hand for others to read. And in a number of weeks, when we go to the printer, perhaps we'll have more news to announce. ENDS