Oaxaca: APPO defends university, feds send in spy plane

Mexican federal police pushed through barricades on roads leading to Oaxaca’s state university Nov. 2, firing tear-gas canisters and water cannons at protesters, who fought back with rocks, slingshots and molotov cocktails. But the police stopped short of crossing onto the campus. At least eight people were injured in the fighting, including a newspaper photographer who was “hit by fireworks” launched by protesters, according to the New York Times. Flavio Sosa, a leader of the Popular People’s Assembly of Oaxaca (APPO) pledged “we will not surrender.” (WP, NYT, Nov. 3; La Jornada, Nov. 2)

The rector of the Autonomous Benito Juarez University of Oaxaca, Francisco Martinez Neri, exhorted the students and supporters nationwide to defend the autonomy of the institution. (La Jornada, Nov. 3)

La Jornada reported that a Schweizer spy-plane has been strategic to the federal police effort to gain control of Oaxaca City. Flying out of nearby Military Air Base No. 22, the plane is equipped with infa-red and video surveillance systems. (La Jornada, Nov. 3)

The Special Operations troops of the Federal Preventative Police (PFP) have reportedly taken control of local TV stations that had been occupied by protesters for over three months. (El Universal, Nov. 2) However Radio Universidad and Radio Planton, the two principal voices of the movement, apparently remain on the air.

Local Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) leaders are taking bolder action in support of Oaxaca’s Gov. Ulises Ruiz – and using increasingly belligerent rhetoric. State PRI president Hector Pablo Ramirez Leyva, expressing frustration at the deliberate pace of PFP efforts to clear out protesters’ encampments and barricades, threatened vigilante action against APPO activists. “If any citizen is prevented from enjoying his constitutional liberties, PRI members or anybody else are obligated to re-establish order and social peace using any means,” he said. “If the law isn’t applied, the PRI will respond in kind to all aggressions.” (El Universal, Nov. 2)

Oaxaca Archbishop Jose Luis Chavez Botello is considering a proposal from the APPO to open the city’s cathedral as a forum for negotiations with the federal government. (APRO, Nov. 1)

APPO supporters in Oaxaca City commemorated Day of the Dead by building small street altars to the fallen in the recent violence, including New York Indymedia photojournalist Brad Will. (El Universal, Nov. 2)

In Mexico City, members of the Broad Progressive Front (FAP), led by PRD president Leonel Cota Montano, petitioned Government Secretary Carlos Abascal to use his power to demand that Ulises Ruiz step dwon. (El Universal, Oct. 31)

The Oaxaca command of the Popular Revolutionary Army (EPR), the clandestine guerilla organization, meanwhile issued a statement demanding the withdrawal of the federal police and calling for “popular war.” (EPR communique, Nov. 1)

Protests in solidarity with Oaxaca have been held at Mexican consulates in Germany, Italy, Holland, Poland, Venezuela, Colombia and Paraguay, among other countries. (APRO, Nov. 1)

All sources archived at Chiapas95

See our last posts on the crisis in Oaxaca.