Oaxaca City divided; Zapatistas call for national resistance

Three days after President Vicente Fox sent in thousands of federal police troops, Oaxaca City remains divided. Supporters of the Popular People’s Assembly of Oaxaca (APPO), driven from the city center, still maintain barricades in many barrios, and pledge to retake the central plaza, called the zocalo. Some 2,000 APPO protesters have established a new encampment at a plaza a few block from the zocalo, which they say will be their new base of operations until they can reclaim the central plaza.

Protesters have repeatedly marched on the police-occupied zocalo, essentially surrounidng the thousands of federal troops there. Some marches have been peaceful; at others, protesters hurled stones and Molotov cocktails at the federal police. One officer was reportedly hospitalized after being hit with a flaming bottle.

A small march in support of the federal police was held by some 20 downtown business owners, who braved taunts of “sellout!” by the APPO protesters. (El Universal, Oct. 31) Ironically, Noticias de Oaxaca reported that since the police took the zocalo, some 37 businesses on the central plaza have been sacked, presumably by the troops. (Noticias de Oaxaca, Oct. 31)

Despite the uncertain control of the city, Fox announced “in Oaxaca, everything is in peace.” (APRO, Oct. 31)

Oaxaca Gov. Ulises Ruiz’s attempt to hold onto power received another setback Oct. 30 when both the federal Senate and Chamber of Deputies passed resolutions urging him to resign. Even his own Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) backed a Senate motion asking the embattled governor “to reconsider separating yourself from office as a contribution to the re-establishment of governability, the rule of law and social peace.” PRI legislators in the lower house abstained from a similar motion. (El Universal, Oct. 31)

Ruiz has returned from Mexico City to the governor’s mansion in Oaxaca, and insisted he would not step down. Despite his predictions to the contrary, no school classes resumed in Oaxaca on Monday the 30th. (APRO, Oct. 30)

Federal police announced Oct. 30 that 22 had been arrested on federal charges of obstructing transportation and carrying illegal arms. The weapons cited included clubs, machetes and Molotov cocktails, but no firearms. (APRO, Oct. 30)

In Mexico City Oct. 30, some 200 APPO supporters seized two city trolley buses and slashed their tires, using the vehicles to block traffic in front of the capital’s emblematic Palacio de Bellas Artes. (El Universal, Oct. 30)

In an Oct. 31 communique, the Zapatista National Liberation Army (signed “from the North of Mexico” by Subcommander Marcos, now on a national tour of Mexico) said their followers would block highways in Chiapas on Nov. 1 in solidarity with Oaxaca, and called for a national strike on Nov. 20, Mexico’s independence day. (EZLN communique, Oct. 31)

As of Oct. 30, the US Embassy was still waiting for authorities to turn over the remains of assassinated Indymedia journalist Brad Will. No official protest had been registered over his death. (El Universal, Oct. 30) US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack did say the killers should be found and brought to justice. (APRO, Oct. 30)

All above sources archived at Chiapas95

On the 29th, two people were arrested by federal police in Will’s slaying. They were identified as Oaxaca state security police officer Abel Santiago Zurita and Manuel Aguilar, head of the neighborhood council of Santa Lucia del Camino, the Oaxaca City suburb where the shooting took place. Authorities say Will died from the impact of two AR-15 bullets. (La Jornada, Oct. 31) NYC Indymedia has posted photos of the alleged gunmen, citing information from Reporters Without Borders. They render “Zurita” as “Zarate”, and also list Santa Lucia del Camino’s Mayor Pedro Carmona and municipal police officer Juan Carlo Soriano. Reporters Without Borders itself renders the name “Pedro Caramona,” and calls him a “former paramilitary.”

In New York City, some 200 protested at the Mexican consulate on the morning of Oct. 30, and 12 were arrested. The consulate in Raleigh, NC, was also said to be “under occupation.” (NYC Indymedia, Oct. 30) Protests were also held at the Mexican Embassy in London. (UK Indymedia, Oct. 31)

Friends of Brad Will are calling for national actions November 1, including a Bike Ride in Solidarity with the People of Oaxaca. The New York City ride will be meeting 1 PM at 40th St & the West Side Highway (12th Ave). (Friends of Brad Will, Oct. 31)

On the morning Friday, Nov. 3, the Consejo de Derechos Humanos para Todos,a New York Mexican immigrant organization, will begin an ongoing planton (protest vigil) at the Mexican consulate, which is located on 39th St. between Park and Madison. (AnalisisMx.com, Oct. 30)

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