Oaxaca at the brink?

Protesters fortified street barricades and prepared petrol bombs Oct. 1 as Mexican navy helicopters buzzed over Oaxaca City for a second day, sparking rumors that federal forces were planning to retake the city center, which has been occupied by the protesters for over four months. But President Vicente Fox’s Government Secretary Carlos Abascal, insisted the helicopters and military planes seen over the weekend were on routine supply runs.

A headline in the Mexico City daily Milenio proclaimed, “Preparations for war in Oaxaca,” while Mexico City’s El Universal reported that helicopters, planes and 15 troop trucks had assembled in Huatulco, a Pacific tourist resort and military hub a short flight – although a long and difficult drive – from Oaxaca City. (El Universal, Oct. 2)

When the helicopters were first spotted, members of the Oaxaca Popular People’s Assembly (APPO) set off signal rockets from the main plaza to alert supporters at barricades throughout the city. APPO immediately began broadcasting on Radio La Ley – one of the several transmitters in the city they have taken over – calling for calm, but also warning their followers to remain alert. (El Universal, Oct. 1)

Abascal did say the government was considering a “peaceful occupation” of Oaxaca City by federal security forces. (APRO, Oct. 2) He said guarantees would be made for the safety of APPO represntatives who are about to resume dialogue with the federal government this week. (El Universal, Oct. 2)

An APPO statement read in the central plaza said: “If the yunquistas in power try to drown in blood the struggle of the Oaxacan people, our blood will also serve to drown the fascists and traitors to the fatherland.” APPO leader Flavio Sosa, speaking before thousands, said the statement “to the people of Mexico and the peoples of the world”, marked the 38th anniversary of the massacre at Tlatelolco.(APRO, Oct. 3)

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who seems set to become Mexico’s rebel president, said from Mexico City that the overflights were an “reprehensible act of provocation,” and said that the Mexican armed forces should not be used against those who struggle for freedom. (El Universal, Oct. 2)

In an escalation of the situation Oct. 2, unkown attackers threw explosives at two banks in Oaxaca, shattering windows and damaging the buildings’ facades. A previously unknown group called the Armed Revolutionary Organization ofthe People of Oaxaca (ORAPO) claimed responsibility. (El Universal, Oct. 3)

“We are ready to struggle with arms to defend the Oaxacan people against the constant aggressions. This is our first communique, and the beginning of a series of actions to defend the Oaxaquenos from any aggression by the police or paramilitary groups,” the statement read.

APPO responded with a statement disavowing the attacks, saying they only serve to create a climate of insecurity and justify military intervention in Oaxaca. (APRO, Oct. 3)

The Popular Revolutionary Army (EPR) stated in a communique sent to local newspapers, that “if the PRI and the PAN, have opted for repression”, then “those responsible for the lost lives and for denying the way of civil and peaceful resistance” will have initiated “a new phase in the class struggle.” (Noticias de Oaxaca, Oct. 2)

On the night of Oct. 1, a group of some 100 young APPO supporters at a roadblock near Pueblo Nuevo on the highway to Mexico City were attacked by a similar number of young PRI supporters weilding clubs. Three were injured after being tied to a post and threatened with being burned alive. (El Universal, Oct. 2)

APPO also reported Oct. 1 that C. Pedro Garcia, an APPO activist and law student at Benito Juarez Oaxaca Autonomous University (UABJO) was kidnapped from the UABJO campus by unknown men who escaped in a blue Chevrolet truck. (APPO press release, Oct. 1)

All sources archived at Chiapas95

See our last posts on Mexico, the struggle in Oaxaca and southern Mexico’s guerilla movement.