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. . www.planetktexas:coin GROWNUP GIFTS FOR KIDS OF ALL AGES NORTH SOUTH 832-8544 443-2292 RESEARCH E. RIVERSIDE 502-9323 441-5555 SAN EAST S.E.MILITARY 654-8536 333-3043 CENTRAL WEST 822-7767 521-5213 without a theoretical prism through which to interpret it. While Gibler’s research is solid and well documented, the prose in which it’s couched sometimes reads like a graduate thesis crowded with too many quotations. Casual readers may want to skip the theory-heavy chapters and simply enjoy the revealing first-person accounts of the Oaxaca uprising, eyewitness observations of the now-empty Mexican towns, and the tragedy of immigrants attempting to cross the border, preyed upon by predators on both sides. 0 ne of Gibler’s most engrossing interviews is a chapterlong conversation with imprisoned guerrillera Gloria Arenas Agis. Agis was a colonel in the Insurgent People’s Revolutionary Army in Guerrero state. Her testimony about injustices suffered by women growing up in poverty, her subsequent political awakening, and her active role in this persecuted rebel group is fascinating. Her story is reminiscent of Gioconda Belli’s The Country Under My Skin, but not as in-depth, a chapter rather than a booklength memoir. Gibler is at his bestinformative, entertaining, provocative and fluidin his chronicle of the Oaxaca uprising, which began when a powerful teacher’s union, Section 22, went on strike. The strike developed into a citywide revolt involving all sectors of society and demanding the ouster of corrupt Governor Ulises Ruiz in 2006. Teachers, their supporters, and members of the Oaxaca Peoples’ Popular Assembly took over several downtown buildings and a couple of radio stations, effectively controlling the city for about five months. Just as the Oaxacan people removed pavestones to build barricades and erected plastic-sheet tent cities, so did the disruption and reorganization of their city allow them to break down social barriers and speak honestly neighborto-neighbor. By taking over radio and TV stations for a few days or weeks, they were able to tell the unfiltered truth about their circumstances, emboldening each other to action. While Gibler clearly sympathizes with struggle, the casualty counts \(11 dead, unclear whether anything has changed. Governor Ruiz is still in power, hundreds of children lost half a year of schooling, and many still lack shoesone of the strikers’ initial demands. Tourism dried up, businesses went bust, and local government operates with as much impunity as ever. And while Mexico remains a deeply divided country in terms of race and class, of extreme wealth and extreme poverty, Gibler’s book is ultimately filled with hope. As evidenced by the current multinational financial crisis, viewable as a crisis of capitalism, much may be learned from alternative and creative social movements. Perhaps, as the guerrilla fighter Agis wisely states: “…revolt has to do with building starting now and from the grassrootswhat you want the future to hold. Many say that we need to take power, but I think that we need to build power from below, and starting now.” As long as people like Gloria Agis, courageous individuals in Chiapas, Oaxaca and Guerrero, and ordinary citizens all over Mexico continue to resist the forces that would keep them impoverished and powerless, Mexico seems likely to remain unconquered, 500 years of colonial history be damned. Poet and literary translator Liliana Valenzuela was born and raised in Mexico City. Her most recent translation is Las caras de la suerte, a novel by Cristina Garcia. She lives in Austin. JAILBREAK I LISA HUFFAKER She kept vegetables in cages. Every morning the peas on their vines went swinging like a zoo full of monkeys. Tomatoes sang like fat canaries, trilling as only caught birds can: gaudy and melodious, without belief. Pumpkins, of course, and watermelon vines hobbled themselves well enough on their own, anchored by ball and chain. She thumped them a few times and walked on, with a hand full of twist-ties for the errant wrists and ankles of beans, uprooting carrots, radishes, beets before they could grow large enough to mean anything by it. But it was the humble potato who fled to freedom, tunneling patiently under the fence. LISA HUFFAKER is a classical singer and poet living in Dallas. She is the 2008 winner of Southwest Review’s Morton Marr Poetry Prize, and has poems forthcoming in Southwest Review and Poet Lore. MAY 1, 2009 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 29