Oaxaca crackdown imminent?

Shops, gas-stations, hotels and restaurants shut down as part of a 48-hour strike seeking to pressure the federal government to intervene in the Oaxaca crisis Sept. 28, triggering long lines as residents stocked up on supplies. Meanwhile, followers of the Popular People’s Assembly of Oaxaca (APPO) declared a “maximum alert,” reinforced their street barricades and readied piles of Molotov cocktails. (The Guardian, Sept. 29)

Tensions mounted Sept. 27 as top federal law enforcement officials told National Action Party (PAN) legislators and the media that agents are ready to move into Oaxaca as soon as the order is given. Eduardo Medina Mora, public security secretary for the administration of President Vicent Fox, and Miguel Angel Yunes, director of the National Public Security System, stressed the readiness of Federal Preventive Police (PFP) to take action in Oaxaca. “Government institutions must always be ready,” Yunes said.

President Fox, who has promised to resolve the Oaxaca crisis before his successor Felipe Calderon takes office on Dec. 1, delayed a scheduled tour of Quintana Roo to discuss the Oaxaca crisis with security officials and his Cabinet.

Also Sept. 27, 1,500 local teachers union delegates voted to continue their strike until Gov. Ulises Ruiz is removed from office. They also agreed that this demand is non-negotiable.

But officials acknowledged that even if federal police are successful breaking up the striking teachers’ downtown encampments, that won’t reopen the schools. “A police occupation won’t resolve the issue of a return to classes by the teachers,” said Government Secretary Carlos Abascal. (El Universal, Sept. 28)

Abascal pledged that if force is used in Oaxaca it will be “moderate and limited.” He said that Fox is “more committed than ever to peace, stability and an orderly government transition.” He blamed the Oaxaca unrest on groups of anarchists who commit “illegal violence which is flagrant offense against personal integrity.” (El Universal, Sept. 28)

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