The Narco News Bulletin
August 15, 2018 | Issue #43
narconews.com - Reporting on the Drug War and Democracy from Latin America
Tens of thousands of people from Mexico City and surrounding states headed south today towards the beachfront resorts of Acapulco to celebrate Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). It is one of Mexico's most sacred days, when the dead are believed to walk the earth once again and return to visit their loved ones. It is also a national holiday and the start of a long weekend. As leisurely tourists approached kilometer 114 along the Autopista del Sol Highway in the State of Morelos, near the town of Alpuyeca, thousands of motorists had to hit their brakes, suddenly coming to the realization that millions of Mexicans chose today to honor their dead not by going to the beach, but by demanding justice for those killed by paramilitary groups loyal to Oaxaca Governor Ulises Ruiz Ortiz, and by the Federal Preventative Police (PFP).
Photos: D.R. Greg Berger
On Monday, the Sixth Commission of the Zapatista Other Campaign called for a "nation-wide shut down" in solidarity with the APPO and the people of Oaxaca. In a communiqué read aloud by Subcomandante Marcos, compañeros from the Other Campaign throughout Mexico were called upon to blockade highways and means of communication throughout the country in demand of an immediate withdrawal of the PFP from Oaxaca. Members of the Other Campaign in the State of Morelos met yesterday to determine when and how to heed to this call. Although the clear strategic choice was the Autopista del Sol Mexico-Acapulco, the plan was kept secret in order to avoid a police ambush. Members of the press were not informed and rumors were intentionally circulated that the blockade would happen in the Eastern part of Morelos State. It would be a relatively small group of people that would conduct the operation, but no matter; what numbers could not provide, logistics and careful planning would.
Even as some drivers came out of the cars to express solidarity with the blockade, other travelers were furious. One irate man grabbed signs and made mock kung-fu gestures in an attempt to engage the protesters in a fight. Echoing the restraint displayed by the thousands of members of the APPO and their supporters in Oaxaca as the PFP fired projectiles and water cannons at them on Sunday, the protesters along the highway refused to engage in violence. Instead, after a ten minute blockade, they stepped aside and allowed traffic to pass.
After regrouping under a nearby bridge, and being reinforced by latecomers to the action, the group switched strategy. They decided to return to the highway and engage in a similar 10 minute blockade, after which traffic would be allowed to pass. In the meantime, they would remind drivers why they were there and ask them to take action on behalf of the people of Oaxaca.
The PFP officer approached one young person whose face was covered by a bandana, and asked how many people would be participating in the blockades. The young man responded, "There are a lot of us." Someone else added, "More of us than there are of you."
A helicopter approached overhead, and a pickup truck containing State Police officers barreled down the shoulder, a half a kilometer away. No longer able to hold out against the threat of their imminent arrest, the protesters from the Other Campaign scrambled back into the same bushes from which they had emerged.
Getaway cars already strategically placed, all the protesters managed to scatter and escape the scene, despite the manhunt that the State Police soon started in the area.
The action along the Mexico City-Acapulco highway coincided with actions coordinated throughout the country, in Chiapas, Tlaxcala, Mexico City, and even the U.S. - Mexico border, where the international bridge connecting Juarez and El Paso was temporarily shut down. When asked about the planned nationwide shut-down, one hunger striker from the APPO in Mexico City told this correspondent "It's great. These are the kinds of things that are going to happen now that Fox has demonstrated his desperation. We've already Won."
As morning passed into afternoon, people throughout Mexico prepared to greet the spirits of the dead in their homes tonight.