<i>"The Name of Our Country is América" - Simon Bolivar</i> The Narco News Bulletin<br><small>Reporting on the War on Drugs and Democracy from Latin America
 English | Español August 15, 2018 | Issue #43

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Al Giordano

Opening Statement, April 18, 2000
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In Oaxaca, Fox Opts for the Heavy Hand

Civil Rights Violations Documented; Federal Police Use Cherished Zócalo for Toilet Needs

By Nancy Davies
Commentary from Oaxaca

November 2, 2006

The Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO in it’s Spanish initials) called for a massive mobilization on Friday, October 27 to try to force the resignation of governor Ulises Ruiz Ortiz (URO). It didn’t work – yet. Instead, the Fox government sent the Federal Preventive Police (PFP) to invade Oaxaca. Since the occupation by the PFP and the Mexican Army marines, who landed October 28, violations of human rights including detentions, deaths, arrests and injuries of both Mexican citizens and foreign journalists have occurred.

Photo: D.R. 2006 Rochelle Gause
The constitution states that if Governor Ruiz resigns before December 1, a new election must be held –a sure win for the PRD. If URO leaves after December 1, his secretary of internal affairs, Heliodoro Díaz Escárraga, also deeply involved in the five months of murders and abductions, will automatically be appointed in his position, thus leaving the situation just as bad, if not worse, than before. On October 30, the national senate “suggested” that URO resign. They could have declared a disappearance of powers two weeks ago, and did not, causing the present disaster. “Disappearance of powers” signifies that the state is not governable, and all three branches of government are vacated.

Despite restraint on both the side of the APPO and by the PFP, the mere fact of invading the state with the goal of repressing a popular movement made certain results inevitable. The people are angrier than ever; lawless shooting and abductions on the part of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) hired guns (possibly in coordination with the PFP) have increased; growing sections of the nation of Mexico, including the states of Chihuahua, Sonora, Puebla, Quintana Roo, Michoacan, Veracruz, Guerrero and Chiapas have declared common cause with Oaxaca; the Zapatista Otra Compaña issued statements of support; foreign nations and cities including France, Venezuela, Canada, Madrid, Barcelona, London, Italy, New York and Los Angeles are condemning the Mexican government; and the popular assembly movement has gained widespread recognition, more so when an American Indymedia reporter was killed.

Today, the cherished family holiday, the “Day of the Dead,” has taken on overtones of the movement as observances include the assassinated teachers, leaders, children, bystanders and the American journalist, Bradley Will.

The invasion, which began on October 29, has included ongoing attempts to block Radio Universidad, the main voice for the APPO. The station’s electricity was cut off, along with the power to the center of the city and the neighborhood of Santa Lucia del Camino, where Brad Will was killed. The Autonomous University Benito Juarez of Oaxaca (UABJO) issued a declaration decrying the federal attempt to interfere with University property. The rector of the university, Dr. Felipe Martinez, went on the air to praise “the heroic attitude of the people,” and he exhorted them, “Don’t give up resisting.” He then referred to the governor as “a psychiatric case.” Along with Martinez’ denunciation, the unanimous board of 27, plus eight officials wrote to Fox decrying the assault on UABJO, which was subjected first to an acid attack by thugs, which put the station off the air on August 11. The students managed to raise enough money to restore it, and it has been the main communication center ever since it came back on the air two weeks ago.

Photo: D.R. 2006 Rochelle Gause
The invasion of Oaxaca by PFP forces was initiated while the leader of the teachers union Section 22 was in Mexico, DF negotiating the return to classes of the striking teachers. Some reports now indicate that the southern region of the state, Juchitan and Tuxtepec, will resume anyway. These areas were scheduled to go back first in any case. However, the spokesperson for the Section 22 opined that “the conditions are not right” for a return, referring to widespread fears that with URO still in charge – or any other member of the PRI – the leading teachers will be picked off one by one. Nevertheless, the teachers, who spent five months in encampment, have been without income for several weeks, along with the state health workers who also support the movement. The problem is not so much that individuals will starve – they won’t– but that a main source of disposable income in the state comes from government salaries.

Ironically, tourism is not possible, even if tourists were so inclined, because all access roads in and out are blocked in order to prevent the entry of APPO supporters. There is no internal bus transportation; incoming riders have been dumped off by the roadside at night with no idea of how to get into the city. Furthermore, presumably because the PFP were sent in with inadequate preparation, the troops sent to hold the zocalo after its “cleaning” of APPO banners, slogans tents, and people, had to use public areas for their toilet needs. Additionally, they sacked the shops in the main kiosk, which prompted shop owners to lodge complaints with the government. Their hope of redress is small, given that the assassins who were clearly identified as responsible for the death of the Indymedia reporter are walking around freely.

In a smaller irony, while the PFP were scrubbing the walls in the zocalo, the spray-paint youngsters were adding slogans in other areas, including the area outside the zocalo. In the nearby Llano Park, URO staged a support march for himself, to which about 2,000 people responded. Simultaneously, about 3,000 APPO supporters gathered in front of Santo Domingo church, and jeered and hooted at parade participants who left the pro-URO rally by that route.

The situation in Oaxaca, as documented by CODEP, the Commission for Rights of the People, is reported:

Sunday the 29th

In the capital there was the following result of the resistance, according to information received by the Oaxaca Human Rights Network (Red Oaxaqueña de Derechos Humanos):

Dead: 3
Jorge Alberto López Bernal, a nurse taking care of the wounded, killed by a tear gas bomb which penetrated his thorax, Fidel Sánchez García, beaten by PRI loyalists, and a twelve year old boy whose situation has not been confirmed.

The Identified Detained: 22
Isidro Yescas, José Manuel Ramírez Zarate, Pedro Hernández Aguilar, Elizabeth Xola Vásquez, Daniel Luna Méndez, Gerardo Valdez Valdez, Daniel Mejía Martínez, Rey Feria Reyes, Isaac Zarate Pérez, Alejandro Gutiérrez, Félix López Medina, Abraham Ramírez Jiménez, Said Ordaz Pérez, Israel Velasco Pacheco, Juan Martínez López, Gerardo Aguilar Chico, Juan Dolores Agustín, Guillermo López, Anastasio Contreras Hernández, Jesús Antonio Aquino, Mario Pineda and Pedro Hernández.

Disappeared: 16
Antonio Castellanos Hernández, Rosa Anastasia Martínez, Jesús Canseco García, Alberto Hernández Calvo, Mauro Arturo Mogozan García, Eusebio Mendoza Sabines, Javier Mateo Calderón, Mamerto García Magaña, Abdón Aguilar, Cenobio Girón Pablo, Raymundo Gómez Martínez, Juan Manuel Ortiz González, Alberto Miguel Guadalupe, Apolinar Noriega, Alejandro Alcántara González and Teodoro López Gutiérrez.

Forceful Entry of Private Homes
Carried out in Colonia Alemán, in Colonia Jardín and in the small village (Agencia) de San Martín Mexicapan.

The detained have probably been taken to the prisons of Ixcotel and Miahuatlan in the 28th Military Zone, as is usual in cases of high security.

Monday, 30th

In the town of Nochixtlán, the PFP prevented the passage of a caravan coming from Tlaxiaco, headed for the city of Oaxaca to participate in the march to protest the presence of the federal forces and to demand the departure of Ulises Ruiz Ortiz. The police beat the participants who protested the violation of their constitutional right to free transit, with the following results:

Detained: 8
Sergio Barrios Robles, Miguel Ángel López Pena, Víctor Alejo Plata, Pedro Osorio Nicolás, Manuel Villegas Mora, Cuitláhuac Santiago, Omar José and Manuel Ojeda García.

The first three are members of CODEP and apparently are being held in the prison of Tlacolula.

Not only have the federal forces acted in these operations, but also the state ministerial police. They have used strike groups from different points where there are barricades, with the intention of provoking confrontations.

Photos: D.R. 2006 Nancy Davies
Up to now the PFP occupies the zocalo, where yesterday they sacked the commercial operation of the kiosk and today they “opened” it to the public, but they don’t permit access to groups of more than ten people. The PFP also occupy Love Park (Parque del Amor), and are not permitting any entry at all. The APPO encampment which had been in the zocalo is now at Santo Domingo.

In the march organized for the state government in support of URO, the marchers basically consisted of families linked to the business community, government functionaries and employees. The slogans on their placards, ,referred to as “fascist” by CODEP, included congratulations to Vicente Fox for the police occupation, in addition to backing URO. The only incident reported here was the confrontation with a person who was identified as a teacher, but who was fortunately able to enter a building where he was rescued. This provocation to violence and lynching of teachers and members of the APPO is promoted by “Citizen Radio” operating clandestinely and without license under the order of URO.

Tuesday night the PFP was removing barricades and invading homes in Santa Lucia del Camino. Faced with the failure to discourage the APPO with the weekend’s operations, it seems that “plan B” may be capturing the leadership of the movement.

The Day of the Dead observations in honor of the movement’s dead give a new meaning to the holiday. The entire pedestrian street approaching the zocalo is filled with altars and traditional sand paintings, all while the PFP stand at their posts, confronted with fearless and furious Oaxaqueños.

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The Narco News Bulletin: Reporting on the Drug War and Democracy from Latin America