As Mexico’s federal Government Secretary Carlos Abascal appealed to Oaxaca Gov. Ulises Ruiz Ortiz to reconsider his stated intention to remain in office, thousands of the embattled governor’s supporters rallied in the streets of Oaxaca City Nov. 7. That same day, a women’s march demanding the withdrawal of federal polcie was attacked by armored vehicles with water cannons. Meanwhile, the Popular People’s Assembly of Oaxaca (APPO) issued a statement demanding not only the resignation of Ruiz, but of his attorney general Lizbeth Caña, state police chief Lino Celaya and all the local state and municipal police commanders, as well as the withdrawal of federal police from Oaxaca, as pre-conditions for re-establishing dialogue with the federal government.
In the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, striking teachers blocked the Panamerican and Trans-Isthmus highways with their bodies for two hours to press their demands for Ruiz’s ouster and the withdrawal of federal forces. Striking teachers also held a massive march in Juchitan.
Ruiz has launched a state police operation to arrest APPO leaders, and at least five have been apprehended, but the group continues to have open control of the state university campus, which serves as a staging ground for protests. At 3 AM Nov. 7, an explosion tore through a shop near the campus, leaving it gutted. Slogans against Ulises Ruiz were left on the walls.
At a press conference in Oaxaca’s Santo Domingo church, APPO demanded a halt to aggression against its followers, an end to the jamming of the APPO-controlled Radio Universidad signal, the release of over 60 “political prisoners,” and the return alive of 30 “disappeared.” APPO leaders Florentino Lopez, Roberto Garcia Lucero and Rosendo Ramirez Sanchez also demanded face-to-face talks with President Vicente Fox. (APRO, Nov. 7)
In his appeal to Ruiz, Carlos Abascal Carranza warned that he must demonstrate his ability to govern in Oaxaca. “The fact that Ruiz Ortiz is back in the governor’s house does not mean that there is governability.” He said that the federal police presence has “returned order, but not governability.”
Abascal also raised the possibility that Ruiz and elements of his his political machine could be investigated for possible links to the Nov. 6 bomb attacks in Mexico City. Abascal said the federal prosecutor’s office “will not spare any line of investigation into the origins and authors of the attacks.”
He said that President Fox had also appealed to Ruiz to step down. Asked about the threat of violence spreading to the national level, Abascal said there has been a “general condemnation” of violence by Mexican society, including APPO. (APRO, Nov. 7)
“There are just two ways to resolve the problem: First, the governor must convince these groups that he can reach an agreement and form a unity government.. or he should resign,” Abascal said told reporters. (El Universal, Nov. 8)
Above sources archived at Chiapas95
An AP account put the white-clad pro-Ruiz marchers at 15,000, compared with 20,000 at the Nov. 5 pro-APPO “mega-march.” The pro-Ruiz marchers chanted “criminals out of Oaxaca” (an obvious reference to APPO) and expressed support for the federal police presence, while the mega-marchers chanted “get out, federal police.” The AP account also referred to a Burger King outlet near the university which “was smashed, burnt and sprayed with the words ‘murderers.’” It is uncertain if this is the same indicent referred to in the APRO report. (AP, Nov. 9)
Accounts posted to the Indymedia network have estimated the mega-march attendance at up to 1.5 million. (E.g. Santa Cruz IMC, with photos)
See our last post on Mexico and the Oaxaca crisis.