Mexico: anniversary protests in Oaxaca

State and municipal police arrested some 20 people on Nov. 2 in Oaxaca city, the capital of the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca, during protests marking one year since federal security forces ended militant strikes and occupations there. In 2006 strikers from Section 22 of the National Education Workers Union (SNTE) and community activists in the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO) occupied most of downtown Oaxaca and paralyzed the state government for five months. Thousands of Federal Preventive Police (PFP) agents took control of the city on Oct. 29, 2006, two days after an outbreak of violence that left three people dead, including US independent journalist Brad Will.

This year APPO supporters marched to the Cinco Senores crossroads, near the Benito Juarez Autonomous University of Oaxaca, and started to construct barricades from rocks, a tractor trailer and a milk truck at Universidad and Ferrocarril Avenues and Eduardo Vasconcelos Boulevard. Police agents with riot equipment and firearms arrived at 7 AM and drove back the protesters.

Some activists were arrested, along with several passersby. Two people from alternative media—Roman Lopez, a camera person for Kaos en la Red, and Abel Sanchez Campos, an announcer for Radio Calenda—were detained briefly. Painter Niceforo Urbieta, who was imprisoned in the 1970s as a supporter of the rebel Union of the People, was also arrested. State governance undersecretary Joaquin Rodriguez Palacios later told relatives and lawyers for the detained that the state was holding 17 people for “administrative faults” but would release them shortly.

The protest commemorated the anniversary of what activists call the “Victory of All Saints”; on Nov. 2, 2006, strikers and supporters had forced PFP agents to withdraw from the area around the university, whose radio station was the main outlet for the APPO. The protest this year was also part of traditional Day of the Dead observances on Nov. 1 and Nov. 2; activists were commemorating 27 strikers and supporters they said were killed in 2006 by police agents and paramilitaries. (La Jornada, Nov. 3)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Nov. 4

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