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Video: The Oaxaca Crisis and the Roots of Migration

In Fall 2007 the Mid-Atlantic hosted one of the most ambitious speaker tours in Witness for Peace history. Miguel Angel Vasquez de la Rosa, a popular educator from Oaxaca, Mexico, traversed the region for five weeks to describe how US policies like NAFTA have pushed thousands to migrate from his home to the United States. Each year, more than 150,000 Oaxacans leave their home--corn farmers displaced from an agricultural sector decimated by NAFTA, teachers unable to get by on wages stagnated by structural adjustment, and textile workers fired from factories that moved to China.

Vasquez also detailed the popular uprising that overtook Oaxaca in 2006, the police repression of the movement, and the U.S.’s plans to finance those police through the proposed Merida Initiative. During the last leg of the tour, Vasquez visited a dozen congressional offices on Capitol Hill to lobby against the Initiative, an effort that bore quick results when on the following day, the chair of a Senate hearing on the Initiative included Miguel’s concerns in his opening remarks.

Accompanied by Todd Miller of the Mexico team and Ben Beachy, Mid-Atlantic Regional Organizer, Vasquez broke records by speaking to more than 1400 people at 63 events, in addition to four radio interviews and a mainstage appearance at the School of the Americas vigil at Fort Benning. The epic journey, made possible through the organizing prowess of interim regional organizer Serafina Youngdahl Lombardi, raised awareness throughout the region and helped spur current regional growth. 

Watch Miguel's presentation below! 

Thanks to Wilton Vought for recording and posting this presentation in Johnson City, NY.  Here's the lineup:

  • 0:00-7:56--Introduction by Ben Beachy, Mid-Atlantic Regional Organizer
  • 7:57-10:44--Preface by Todd Miller, WFP Mexico International Team
  • 10:45-52:30--Presentation by Miguel Vasquez (translated by Todd)
  • 52:31-67:58--Question and Answer session excerpts
  • 67:58-72:57--Conclusion by Ben Beachy