Mixed signals on Oaxaca crackdown

Tensions are remain high in Oaxaca following the killing of pro-government teacher, which protest leaders fear will be usd to justify a crackdown. Math teacher Jaime Rene Calvo Aragon was amember of the Central Council of Struggle (CCL), which is actually loyal to the political machine of Oaxaca’s Gov. Ulises Ruiz and his ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). It is a dissident pro-government current in local Section 22 of the National Education Workers Syndicate (SNTE), which is demanding that Ruiz step down. Calvo Aragon was found knifed to death Oct. 5. Immediately, the Popular Peoples Assembly of Oaxaca (APPO), which is supporting Section 22’s demands, denounced the murder as a ploy to justify repression, and claimed the government is planning to use military troops to put down the movement in Oaxaca under the name “Plan Iron.” APPO remains on “maximum alert.” (La Jornada, Oct. 6)

The Mexico City daily La Jornada, citing sources in the military, said the Mexican armed forces are preparing a “Plan DN-II,” to “guarantee internal security and social peace.” It will include the elite Airborne Special Forces Groups (GAFES), and will center in Military Region No. 8, based in Oaxaca City, and Military Zone 28, based in Ixcotel, Oaxaca. (La Jornada, Oct. 4)

Government Secretary Carlos Abascal told Mexico’s Congress Oct. 3 that the federal government has no intention of using force to end the four-month standoff in Oaxaca that has rendered the state government virtually impotent. But Abascal was interrupted and jeered by placard-carrying legislators from the left-opposition Democratic Revolution Party (PRD). “In the name of God, we will carry out absolutely no repression,” he insisted through the jeering.

However, typically hedging his bets, he also said the Fox administration would be within its rights in sending in federal police or military troops. “The Constitution establishes the obligation of authorities to re-establish law and order,” he told a full session of the Chamber of Deputies. “But I am not anticipating an intervention.”

Abascal’s invocation of the deity in his remarks to Congress prompted a wry response from Omar Olivera Espinosa, spokesperson for a contingent of several thousand teachers and their supporters who are marching from Oaxaca City to Mexico City: “He preaches from the pulpit with a crucifix in his right hand and a club in his left.” (El Universal, Oct. 4)

President Vicente Fox made similarly equivocal noises, stating that his government is “impelled” to find a peaceful solution, but that “transgression of the law must be impeded and punished.” (Noticias de Oaxaca, Oct. 3)

APPO and Section 22 did agree to return to the negotiating table with the Government Secretariat, after having broken off talks earlier this week citing government intranisgence and the threat of an imminent attack from the security forces. (APRO, Oct. 4) APPO and Section 22 announced that\ school classes would resume in Oaxaca five days after Gov. Ruiz has his powers revoked. (La Jornada, Oct. 6) Jorge Zermeño, speaker of the federal lower house Chamber of Deputies and a member of President Fox’s ruling National Action Party (PAN), called upon Ulises Ruiz to consider stepping down. “If he is an obstacle, he must evaluate it,” said Jorge Zermeño. “If society finds that respect for authority is lacking, I think we have to do whatever is necessary to re-establish order and respect for government.” (El Universal, Oct. 5) As a gesture of good faith, APPO supporters ended their occupation of Oaxaca City’s Radio Oro, one of several stations they have taken over. (El Universal, Oct. 5)

Violence continues in the conflicted state. In the Oaxaca coastal city of Salina Cruz, a protest vigil by striking teachers and members of the local APPO affiliate, the Frente Ciudadano Salinacrucense, was attacked by a group of apparent PRI supporters Oct. 5, leaving several wounded and “disappeared.” (La Jornada, Oct. 6)

On the night of Oct. 2, in the village of San Antonio de Castillo Velasco, a group of APPO’s “seguridad popular” citizen’s police force was shot at from a passing truck, killing one member of the patrol, Alberto Miguel Rios. (APRO, Oct. 4)

Government speculation also grew about possible guerilla involvement in the Oaxaca struggle. Jose Luis Santiago Vasconcelos, head of the federal Sup-Prosecutor Specializing in Organized Delinquency (SIEDO), announced that the recent attacks on banks in Oaxaca City could be the work of “disguised” insurgent organizations, naming the Popular Revolutionary Army (EPR) and the Revolutionary Army of the Insurgent People (ERPI).(APRO, Oct. 4)

All sources archived at Chiapas95

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

  1. Excellent report
    Excellent summary by Bill W. I would add only one suggested correction: the persons ostensibly ‘disappeared’ in Salina Cruz were later ‘rescued,’ by 11:00 pm the same evening, per that same La Jornada report referenced.

    Keep up the fine reporting!