On May 21st, residents of El Rebalsito traveled six hours to Guadalajara by bus to protest the illegal occupation of Tenacatita. The protesters planned to peacefully march to the site where Televisa would be interviewing Fernando Guzman, the conservative PAN party’s candidate for governor of Jalisco. During Guzman’s term as secretary of the government he consistently supported the Rodenas plan to build a private resort on the public beach and he turned a blind eye to the violent acts of the Rodenas group. (Rumor has it that Guzman stands to benefit financially from the proposed Rodenas resort.)
Dobie, an expat American who lives in Rebalsito, reports: “After a long bus ride, we arrived at the Templo Expiatorio in Guadalajara at about 6:30 pm. Along with many supporters and media, thirty-nine of us from El Rebalsito, wearing Tenacatita T-shirts, were peacefully walking from the Templo to the Televisa station where Fernando Guzman (PAN candidate for governor of Jalisco) was scheduled to be interviewed.
“When we got about a block away, we could see what looked like hundreds of PANistas waving flags, beating drums, jumping up and down and acting pretty crazy. They came at us very aggressively and began pushing and shoving, and tearing at our lonas (canvas banners) . They just wouldn’t let us be.”
The banners carried by the Rebalsito contingent (pictured above) are a little provocative. I’m never a fan of comparing people to Hitler, but I have to admit that I get a kick out of the text on the banners, including this (forgive my rough translation): “Candidate Traitor: Don’t stop on the coast of Jalisco. The people of the town of Tenacatita and the south Coast repudiate you as a ratero and a fascist. Just as Santa Anna sold our lands, you are selling our beaches. TENACATITA WILL BE RETURNED TO THE VILLAGE. Death to the bad governor.” I’m telling you–these people are bad asses. Dobie comments, “I personally thought it was a bit heavy showing Guzman as a Nazi, but it turns out he’s part of a group called El Yunque, which is an ultra right-wing secret society (started in Puebla in the 60’s I think).”
Dobie continues, describing how the PAN supporters pushed and shoved at the Tenacatita group: “We moved to the other side of the street, and they followed, trying to cover our lonas with theirs. It was very difficult to have a reasonable conversation with them. There we were, protesting the violence of PANista Fernando Guzman, and there they were, being violent. ”
Dobie and the Rebalsito ejiditarios suspect that many of the PAN demonstrators were paid to attend and attack–they seemed young and uninformed about the reasons for the protest. (Paying people to attend political rallies is a common practice in Mexico.) Dobie says, “I was able to have a decent conversation with one of the PANistas, and I asked him if he knew why we were there. He said not really, so I started telling him about the Tenacatita desalojo and all the injustices. He asked me to send him more information. He said that he’s a PANista, but didn’t want to vote for someone who was talking away people’s homes and livelihoods.”
Ironically, Héctor Álvarez, Guzman’s campaign coordinator, alleged that the Tenacatita group were imposters: “They looked too well dressed and perfumed to be people from Tenacatita. The people of Tenacatita are humble workers who don’t dress like these people.” Obviously Guzman has never attended a Rebalsito fiesta!
Dobie finished her report with the following,
“The people of El Rebalsito asked me to thank all of you who have donated money since August 4, 2010. Some of that money was used to pay for the bus that took us to Guadalajara. Without that, we wouldn’t have been able to hire a bus and very few of us would have been able to go. So, muchas gracias!”