I did not have the chance to see Oaxaca before the disturbances, so I cannot compare it to before. But I do not understand what "graffitti" or "damage" people are talking about. Compared to any European capital (like Paris or Prague) Oaxaca has no graffitti. Perhaps most of it had been cleaned up by the time I got there because most buildings were painted in these beautiful Crayola deep and bright colors. I thought they looked beautiful. Or perhaps I have a lower standard, grafiitii to me is any city after an election...there is nothing even remotely like that in Oaxaca. As for construction/destruction, I live in New York, and there is much more of that over here, that there was over there,
As for the damage that Go Mexico talks about...all the tourist sites we went to, were open and there was 0 damage. From the ruins, to the churches, to the museums. I tried hard to find where the damage at the Camino Real happenned, and could not find it. It is like new.
As for the merchants, none were as desperate as they seem in Delhi, Cairo, or Cuzco. We were not hounded. We bought beautiful dresses and toys for our niece.
I only saw two signs of desperation. Our tour guide (who came recommended and is well like by some people on trip advisor, so this might be personal) was really pushy in terms of trying to get us to visit stores and restaurants he liked (I assumed he was getting kickbacks.) If you are planning to book a guide ahead of your trip, these are questions I would have liked to ask. Are you a liscenced tourism guide? (ours was not and he could not enter Monte Alban or Mitla and was generally not knowledgeable.) What is included in your fee? (None of the tickets were included in our fee and it would have been much cheaper to book a local tour that included everything.) I would not book a tour in Oaxaca in advance, as you will have many choices.
The other desperation was at the restaurants. They were empty. We walked past several of the ones with good reputations (as in written about in travel and Leisure and the like) and did not see one customer. But this is not only Oaxaca...it was also like that in Puebla and to a certain extent in DF. We ate in a famous, but empty restaurant in Puebla, and got food poisoning so severe, that it required antibiotics, so by the time we got to Oaxaca we were scared to eat in an empty restaurant that perhaps was not getting the kind of food turnover that keeps things fresh. We ate at the Camino Real (that really tries hard to keep things clean, they use ingredients like french butter because it is packaged differently and more antiseptically) and Casa Oaxaca which had a decent amount of bussiness. The food at the Camino Real is surprisingly good and at Casa Oaxaca it is spectacular.
The only signs that something happenned here are the heavily armed policemen around the Zocalo. (we also saw them in Puebla.)
I am glad we came at a time like this. Any other time, we might have seen a more crowded and touristy Oaxaca, which might not be as charming. Oaxaca is laid back and very well preserved. There is lots to see and do. I highly reccommed Oaxaca and I will be back!