Oaxaca: APPO claims six dead in new violence

Protesters trying to force out the Oaxaca state governor set fire to government buildings in two days of street fighting that began on the night of Nov. 26, when masked youths broke away from a march by about 4,000 people and hurled rocks and gasoline bombs at the federal police camped out in the city’s central square. Police drove off the attackers with tear gas and water cannons, then advanced in massed ranks to drive protesters from a camp at a smaller plaza two blocks away. Bands of youth engaged police throughout the downtown area, pushing shopping carts loaded with rocks and gasoline bombs. Courts and other government offices in the city’s historic colonial buildings were gutted by flames. Three hotels were also reportedly attacked with firebombs, and some 20 private vehicles were torched. (AP, Nov. 27)

Reports claimed up to six people were killed, some 100 wounded and 160 arrested over the weekend, and that federal police and army troops have orders to coordinate with state police to arrest “every member” of APPO. Gov. Ulises Ruiz toured the historic downtown area under heavy police guard after it had been cleared of the APPO encampment and proclaimed, “Today, with the federal police and the state forces we have recovered the heart of Oaxaca for the Oaxaqueños and for all Mexicans. We don’t want any more provacateurs or activtsts… We don’t want any more delinquents or disturbances in Oaxaca or in other states. We will use the full weight of the law against rthose who have committed destructive or delinquent acts, including the leaders of APPO.”

The president of Oaxaca’s Supreme Court of Justice, Hector Anuar, called the damages to his offices “an act of extreme criminality” and called upon departing President Vicente Fox to “intervene to brake the wave of violence” in Oaxaca. APPO leaders, meanwhile, denied any responsibility for violent acts, and pledged to “reorganize” and find another public place to regroup. (AnsaLatina, Nov. 26)

The Oaxaca state prosecutor’s office (Fiscalía) denied claims by APPO of six dead in the weekend’s violence. “We have no confirmation of any person fallen in these events, after a review of information provided by various agencies of the Public Ministry and…various public and private hospitals,” read the statement from the Fiscalía. But APPO spokesman Florentino López insisted that six had been killed, citing the claims of witnesses.

The Fiscalía also said 56 arrested APPO members were transfered to Miahuatlán de Porfirio Díaz prison, some 150 kilometers south of the state capital, and another 93 were being held at Tlacolula de Matamoros prison, on the outskirts of the city. (EFE, Nov. 27)

See our last post on Mexico and the Oaxaca crisis.