Oaxaca Teachers Agree to Continue Protest Until Gov. Ulises Ruiz Falls
Some Claim the Current Business Strike Will Be Used as Pretext for Repression
By Hermann Bellinghausen
September 28, 2006
OAXACA CITY, Sep. 27: In a city permeated by tension in the face of widespread rumors of immanent attacks by Institutional Revolutionary Party-aligned “shock troops” and corresponding intervention by federal police, the state teachers’ union agreed to continue its struggle “in a massive and united fashion… until the fall of the tyrant Ulises Ruiz Ortiz is achieved, and only then begin the school year.” Enrique Rueda Pacheco, general secretary of the local Section 22 of the National Union of Education Workers, publicized the agreements through a new consultation with the rank-and-file on the continuation of the strike, which began 129 days ago.
The teachers’ assembly, meeting in the hotel owned by the union, resolved that the departure of Ulises Ruiz “is not negotiable and cannot be conceded; it remains our sole demand.” As the 1,500 union delegates roared, “unity, unity!” Rueda Pacheco reaffirmed that his organization continues, “forward, together with the other organizations with which we form the Popular Assemblies of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO in its Spanish initials); we are not separate, we are a single front that will maintain this period of struggle.” This was followed by the chorus of teachers who filled the auditorium: “The teachers and the people united / Will never be defeated.”
In response to the nearly clandestine naming of new academic authorities at the Oaxaca State Institute of Public Education by its director, Emilio Mendoza Kaplan, Rueda Pecheco called the appointments “bogus.” The only academic authorities that the union recognizes “are those that have been appointed by this movement.”
Section 22 reiterated that it will stop the march/trek to Mexico City “in the moment that we are informed of the departure of Mr. Ulises Ruis.” If that does not occur, “the march will arrive as scheduled on October 3.” At the same time, he demanded “an end to the repression of all social leaders and fighters, and the immediate punishment of the intellectual and material authors of the assassination of our comrades during this period of struggle.” The union repeated its demand for the “immediate and unconditional” release of all political prisoners and prisoners of conscience in the country, especially Germán Mendoza Nube, Erangelio Mendoza González, Catarino Torres Pereda and Ramiro Aragón Pérez.
The assembly placed responsibility for “any repression that our compañeros might face in the 14,000 schools or any other part of this state” on the governor and federal government. Rueda Pacheco reported that the teachers have declared themselves in opposition to the militarization of their towns and demand “that the Mexican Army return immediately to its barracks.” Finally, he denied that Ruiz Ortiz has been holding negotiations with Section 22 leaders, as the governor has claimed: “We have made no deal with him, nor will we.”
Long Nights Return to Oaxaca
According to a bus driver, who asked to remain anonymous for security reasons and who spoke to La Jornada on Tuesday, a meeting was held of transportation workers loyal to the PRI in order to organize attacks on the popular, teacher-led movement, taking advantage of the business strike announced for Thursday and Friday. According to this testimony, former PRI congressman and Revolutionary Federation of Workers and Peasants (CROC) leader David Aquilar Robles called upon his followers to orchestrate an attack this Thursday on the encampments that Section 22 and the APPO maintain in the city. The meeting was held in Santa María del Tule, near the state capital.
Accompanied by Juan Luis Martínez, the local taxi-driver union boss, Aguilar Robles (a leader of civilian “shock troops” that have attacked government opponents, independent taxi and bus drivers, and the newspaper Noticias), is supposed to have said: “We’re going to break these people, because the governor is asking that we do him that favor. You all are going to coordinate with local union leaders to figure out at what specific time we’ll go in to rip up these bastards.”
According to the anonymous driver and another witness, around 250 taxi drivers and truckers, affiliated with the pro-PRI union federations CROC and CTM, attended the meeting. The witness claimed that a high government official was also there to “give instructions.” The drivers were notified that they should wear “something blue” and that they will be accompanied by plainclothes police, “so don’t be afraid.” The witness who spoke to La Jornada opposed these instructions but now fears for his life. During the meeting the attendees were warned: “Whoever leaks this to the public, dies.” He calls anonymously on his fellow workers “not to let yourselves be fooled” by their leaders. “They know what I’m talking about.”
This story supports the view of Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) congressman Carlos Martínez Martínez, who has said that the 48-hour business strike will allow for acts of provocation on the part of “shock troops” and police. In a statement broadcast on Radio APPO (Radio Oro, 1120 AM), the congressman denounced the existence of what he claimed was a government plan to take advantage of the freezing of trade, transportation and the gasoline supply “to await the response of the teachers’ union and the APPO” to an attack by CROC members.
In the expected scenario, PRI-aligned groups would carry out acts of vandalism and blame these on the APPO, or would try to destroy barricades. The “destabilization of the city” would precipitate an intervention by the Federal Preventive Police (PFP) in order to “impose order” in the no-man’s-land provided by the commercial/business strike. Radio APPO – which had serious broadcasting difficulties today, apparently due to intentional interference – called on the population “not to counter-attack, but rather to stop this from happening, and to organize so as not to fall for this provocation,” as the their enemies hope the people “react” and set off the official plan to set Oaxaca ablaze.
Photographers and journalists are preparing for the PFP’s teargas with gasmasks; those who do not, along with thousands of protesters, will soak their bandanas in vinegar and soda and see how well that works. Starting today, those longest of nights are returning to Oaxaca.
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