<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 #61

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Milenio Gets Declassified Information

Ulises Ruiz “Used Mercenaries to Keep Himself in Power,” According to USA Documents Obtained by Milenio

By Nancy Davies
Commentary from Oaxaca

November 1, 2009

The government of the USA worried about the 2006 conflict in Oaxaca, fearing it would encourage other “radical groups” to rise against the government, according to cables sent by then US Ambassador Tony Garza to then President Bush.

The word-choice “radical groups” presents the US perspective in a nutshell: anyone struggling for some level of social or economic justice against a government in the hip-pocket of the USA.

The Mexican news magazine Milenio obtained from the US Department of State about fifty partially declassified pages of information using the Freedom of Information Act. The information was also reprinted in Noticias of October 30, 2009, accompanied by an archive photo showing Noticias’ office building when it was besieged by mercenaries working for Governor Ulises Ruiz. That event was called a labor strike, although it clearly was Ruiz’s attempt to close the newspaper.

D.R. 2009 – Nancy Davies
An exchange of the newly available cables sent in 2006 reveals that, in the opinion of Washington, Ruiz “used mercenaries” to keep himself in power; that Elba Esther Gordillo (lifetime leader of the National Education Workers Union, SNTE) wanted to take advantage of the conflict for her personal political benefit; and that the Mexican federal government was terrified about the risk of a “wider explosion.” The cables make clear that George W. Bush’s government followed events of the social conflict with constant communications between various security bodies during the six months of movement control in Oaxaca in 2006 because the USA thought that Mexico could explode; it was also the year of the political opposition by Andrés Manuel López Obrador after the election of July 2.

Although the State Department declassified some information, the CIA classified the remaining information for the next 30 years, by executive order. One might guess that much of the CIA information represents an ongoing enterprise, since it is known that the US military funds activities such as the Bowman Project in the Sierra Norte, aids land privatization programs, monitors narcotraffic hot spots all over Mexico, and patrols sea and land border crossing points. Historically, government fears on the part of the USA focus not on any remote possibility that barbarian hordes could invade Kansas City, but that another socialist government in the Western Hemisphere might set a “bad” example.

In the early hours of October 30, 2006 an urgent message was sent by Garza to different offices in Washington, including the White House, the National Security Council, the CIA, the Department of Homeland Security and the Pentagon. The reason: the entrance of the Mexican Federal Preventive Police (PFP in its Spanish initials) to retake control in Oaxaca and smash the APPO (Asamblea Popular de los Pueblos de Oaxaca).

“The crisis in Oaxaca has reached a new level”, the message marked “sensitive” and “priority” proclaimed. Drawn up by Ambassador Tony Garza to be read only by President Bush and eight other officials, the message advised: “The Mexican government is intervening in Oaxaca. The crisis entered a new critical phase with the entrance into Oaxaca of the PFP after the deaths of three persons on October 27, including that of American journalist Brad Will. The potential for violence in the next days in high”.

Garza adds: “The Mexican government has to contain the conflict in an effective manner. For months, one of the principle worries about the political crisis in Oaxaca has been that it would spill over into other areas in the nation”.

The cable, whose complete contents remain classified until 2016 to “not place at risk the international activities of the United States”, further admits: “What began as a routine protest action has escalated into a broad movement which could be exploited by radical groups.”

And it explains precisely that for fear of a national uprising the administration of Vicente Fox never seriously considered removing Ulises Ruiz as governor of Oaxaca: “Many in the federal government fear that removing the governor will be seen as a bad precedent. They do not want to give a common enemy to the different radical groups in Mexico”.

Or, in other words, the USA viewed Mexico at the end of October 2006 confronting the leading edge of a possible civil war, and instructed the US Ambassador to be alert to the spread of that danger.

The US Ambassador began to analyze whether the social conflict could bring Mexico to broad-spread uprising. “This cable will analyze the implications of federal intervention, as it could impact the balance of power in Mexico and what the possible scenarios are for the future of Oaxaca”, he wrote. I wonder if he was thinking of the Zapatistas?

One of the exchanges admits that the arrival of the PFP literally saved the governor’s scalp, by limiting the autonomy of the APPO in Oaxaca.

However, the US Ambassador calculated that the “pacification” operation carried out by the PFP “could function” in Oaxaca if the commanders of the police managed to prevent their troops from violating the civil rights of the population. “The Mexican government will keep the police presence legitimate if it is relatively pacific, and the Mexican government maintains that it is the only way to keep order”, Garza believed.

The cables also leave no doubt that Washington had a negative opinion regarding the role played by Ulises Ruiz and the director of the National Education Workers Union (SNTE), Elba Esther Gordillo.

About URO, Garza advised that he was “ a man with a hard fist without popular backing”, and that he sustained himself “with a base of mercenaries”. One of the cables, dated in August, asserts that the governor was then considered a “failure”.

“…Ruiz failed to incorporate into his programs the distress of his opposition and did not have the political capacity to build coalitions capable of governing”, one fragment says. “The attack against the newspaper Noticias was done by his mercenaries, observers tell us”, one reads in another message.

Again: “Our contacts tell us that the governor lacks any legitimacy and is desperate”. Another: “He will never recover his authority”. And, “It is thought that the death of José Jiménez (a member of the APPO, shot on August 10) was carried out by shooters loyal to Ruiz”.

About Gordillo, Washington left clear that her entrance into the negotiations at the end of the conflict, instead of helping, further complicated the Oaxaca crisis. “Instead of following with fruitful negotiations, the federal government preferred to ask help of Gordillo, but while the federal government offered the carrot, Gordillo whacked the APPO with a stick”, a fragment dated October 6 adds.

Also, the leader of the SNTE is accused of having jumped into the negotiations out of greed: “The decision of Gordillo to intervene in the situation in Oaxaca was influenced, very probably, by the fact that the Mexican government offered SNTE a large sum of money (…) nearly 3.8 thousand million dollars during six years”.

As for actual events, one can read formal US descriptions in Milenio’s photo-copies, phrases such as “…over the weekend of November 25 when provocateurs turned what started out as a peaceful protest led by the People’s Popular Assembly of Oaxaca (APPO) into a violent confrontation with the Federal Preventive Police.”

While the governor of Oaxaca hurls bullshit in all directions, the struggle goes on. A commemorative march marking the PFP invasion on October 26 was attended by about 5,000 people who met at the zócalo at dusk. The political rally included Secretary General of Section 22 of SNTE, Azael Santiago Chepi, who spoke about future action, including a possible call for a national work stoppage in response to President Calderon’s shut down of Mexico’s Central Light and Power Company, whereby more than 40,000 electric workers became unemployed overnight.

The USA must still be writing frantic cables.

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