Revolution Update, November 4, 2006


Update on Oaxaca

Nov. 4—The situation in Oaxaca is continuing to develop in the days after thousands of Federal Preventive Police (PFP) entered the city on Oct. 29 (see “Oaxaca ,Mexico: Federal Police Attack Rebellion,” Revolution #68).

“No aguantaron! Si se pudo!” (We did it! They couldn’t take it!) shouted hundreds of supporters of APPO (Popular Assembly of the People of Oaxaca, which has been calling on people to drive the governor of Oaxaca, Ulises Ruiz Ortiz, from office) who took part in a 7-hour stand off and street battle with the PFP.

On November 3, the PFP attempted to invade the Autonomous University of Oaxaca Benito Juarez—UABJO—after authorities claimed that there were firearms in the university. Police, military, federal authorities, and state officials are not supposed to enter the grounds unless invited by the Rector of the university.

Immediately, the radio station still controlled by APPO alerted people of the situation. Soon after, the Periferico, a busy intersection near the university, became a center for many youth, campesinos, and women who came with basketfuls of rocks, bundles of sticks, and bottles of vinegar and Coke to counter the effects of the tear gas. “OK, splash a little bit of the soft drink on your face, that takes away the sting, but don’t rub your face or it will sting even more,” a housewife told people.

As people defended the area, four police helicopters flew 15 to 20 meters overhead shooting tear gas canisters. The people defended the university with whatever they had at hand and devised numerous homemade projectiles. After an intense back and forth, the people were successful in preventing the PFP from entering the UABJO.

APPO is calling on people to persist in the struggle to oust Ulises Ruiz Ortiz (URO) and for the withdrawal of the PFP. As APPO prepares for its sixth Mega March on Sunday, November 5, the organization has called on people to step up the resistance and rebuild barricades in the strategic locations throughout the state and major arteries in the city center. APPO leaders have called on people from all 7 regions of Oaxaca to stream into the center city in protest.

In a press conference on Friday, URO declared again that he has no intention of resigning.

Since October 28, when President Vicente Fox ordered the troops to invade using water tanks and military police to break up the barricades and retake the buildings and radio stations occupied by the strikers and their supporters, thousands of women, children, youth, and elderly people have beaten back the police in some areas or rebuilt barricades. Contrary to government statements that a semblance of “normality” was returning to Oaxaca, as of November 2 public buildings, businesses and schools remained closed and the struggle for the ouster of the governor has intensified and gained support.

Many people and forces see the developments in Oaxaca as one of the most important struggles in Mexico in many years. In Mexico City, on November 2, APPO members and supporters demonstrated in front of the headquarters of the PFP; other protesters blocked major intersections and marched through the streets. Some major highways leading to the capital were also blocked. In the state of Queretero, demonstrators were attacked and many arrested. In the state of Guerrero a university radio station was seized. The Zapatistas have called for a general strike on November 20. There are calls from some teachers unions and student groups for a national strike, and others are making their way to Oaxaca to support the people and their struggle—like the teachers from Michoacan who are sending a caravan of 3000 to support the struggle. Similar actions are taking place in many cities all across Mexico.

The Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), one of the three main ruling class parties in Mexico, whose leader and presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador did not originally support the teachers’ strike in Oaxaca, has now called for protests and the ouster of URO. And the Senate (which on October 19 decided not to vote for the ouster of the governor) issued a call on October 30 for URO to step down.

Around the world there have been actions of solidarity with the people of Oaxaca and condemnation of the attack of the PFP. In Paris, France, people put solidarity banners on the wall commemorating the 1871 Paris Commune. In Brazil, demonstrations were held in Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Brasilia, and Fortaleza. On October 30, between 300 and 400 people blockaded the Mexican consulate in New York City, where the U.S. Indymedia journalist Brad Will (shot and killed in Oaxaca on Oct.27) lived. Demonstrations were held at Mexican consulates in dozens of U.S. cities (13 cities October 29 alone), in Canada, Latin America, Europe and New Zealand.

On Nov. 2 a group of “media makers and artists” issued a “Letter in Support of the People of Oaxaca” (the text of the letter is online at Signatories to the letter include Noam Chomsky, Eve Ensler, Eduardo Galeano, Danny Glover, Michael Moore, Antonio Negri, Arundhati Roy, Wallace Shawn, Gloria Steinem, Alice Walker, and Howard Zinn. The letter says “we are writing to honor the memory of independent journalist, filmmaker, and respected activist Brad Will” and notes that “six other people were killed this past week by officials of the illegitimate government of Ulises Ruiz and the federal forces that are now occupying Oaxaca.” The signatories say, “In solidarity with the people of Oaxaca, we add our voices to these demands: 1. Ulises Ruiz out of Oaxaca! 2. Immediate withdrawal of the occupying federal forces from Oaxaca! 3. Immediate and unconditional freedom for all detainees! 4. Justice for all murdered companeros and punishment of guilty parties on all levels!”

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