Another death in Oaxaca; stalemate continues

Gunmen shot two people at a roadblock in Oaxaca City Oct. 14, killing one. The assailants fired at protesters at a street barricade in the predawn darkness, hitting one in the head and another in the arm, according to activists. The victim with the head wound died later in the hospital. The shooting began after strikers refused to let two apparently drunk men in a vehicle pass across an occupied street, according to the state government. (Reuters, Oct. 14) A report in La Jornada identified the victim as Alejandro Garcia Hernandez, and said the killers were military troops in civilian clothes. (La Jornada, Oct. 15) El Universal identified the attackers merel as “drunken men leaving a bar.” (El Universal, Oct. 15) AP reported Oct. 15 that a soldier has been arrested in the incident, but blames the shooting on a “drunken argument.” (AP, Oct. 15) Noticias de Oaxaca noted a similar incident of gunfire on protesters Oct. 12, saying the attackers were state police and “porros” (paid provocateurs). (Noticias de Oaxaca, Oct. 12)

The Reuters account says this brings the total of deaths in the Oaxaca struggle to seven, but the number is contested, with the Popular People’s Assembly of Oaxaca (APPO) claiming more and the “official” state government claiming fewer. Many deaths are clearly not being added to the total, especially those in remote rural areas of the state. Maricarmen Altamirano, one of the striking Oaxaca teachers who joined the cross-country march to Mexico City, told New York’s WBAI Radio by telephone that one marcher, José Castro, died en route from heat exhaustion. (MORC, WBAI, Oct. 10)

UNICEF called Oct. 13 for the government and striking teachers to resolve the dispute so children could return to school. The statement came as the government said time was running out on its offer to of compromise measures to resolve the conflict. (AP, Oct. 13)

The statement also came as Section 22, the striking local of the national teachers union, announced that it would reject the proposed compromise, and maintain the strike until Gov. Ulises Ruiz resigns. (APRO, Oct. 12)

Don Samuel Ruiz, bishop emeritus of the Chiapas highlands who brokered the peace dialogue with the Zapatista rebels in the 1990s, spoke Oct. 13 at a packed Oaxaca City auditorium, where he said that Mexico’s one-party system belonged to history, but that Oaxaca appeared to be still “trapped” in it. He said that “the eyes of the world are watching Oaxaca,” and that the state has become “the womb of all the country. Here, something new is being born, a painful birth, but full of celebration for that which will arrive.” (APRO, Oct. 13)

See our last post on Mexico and the struggle in Oaxaca.