Mexico’s Defense Secretariat has dispatched troops from the 36th Infantry Battallion, based at the 44th Military Zone headquarters in Minatitlan, Veracruz, to the Oaxaca City, which has been paralyzed by civil protests for weeks. The situation has promped the Popular People’s Assembly of Oaxaca (APPO) to declare a “maximum alert,” fearing that a violent eviction of their protest encampments in the city center is imminent. (APRO, Aug. 23)
On Aug. 22, the unrest in the city claimed its second confirmed death, when a group of some 15 armed men in three cars—one with the insignia of the city police department—drove up to one of several radio stations that have been occupied by protesters and sprayed the building with gunfire. One of occupiers, Lorenzo Pablo, a 52-year-old architect, was hit and died.
A short time later, masked men fired on the car of freelance photographer Luis Hernandez, who had been at the scene of the earlier shooting death (of Jose Jimenez, Aug. 12). Hernandez was unharmed. (AP, Aug. 24)
On Aug. 23, Oaxaca Attorney General Lizbeth Cana said the occupation of radio and TV stations and the blocking of roads in and around Oaxaca City were “acts of destabilization” consistent with an “urban guerrilla” strategy. The remarks prompted federal Attorney General Daniel Cabeza de Vaca to state that there was no evidence of guerilla involvement in the civil struggle in Oaxaca. (El Universal, Aug. 24)
A particularly atrocious story in the New York Times Aug. 24 was entitled “Violent Civil Unrest Tightens Hold on a Mexican City.” Yet the story itself noted that the only “violence” attributed to the protesters is the burning of a few buses, while there have now been two confirmed deaths of protesters at the hands of the security forces and unaccountable pro-government gunmen, rumors of three more in the attempted police eviction of the protest encampments June 14, and (by APPO’s count) 35 political killings statewide since the protests began. The story ends with a quote from the president of the hotel owners’ association complaining about how the protests have devastated the tourism industry—as if this was the most grave problem facing the state. This has been only the second full story the Times has run on the Oaxaca crisis. (See our post on the first.)