Oaxaca: People’s Assembly on “red alert”

Ominous news, and a different perpective from our usual left-wing Mexican sources like La Jornada and APRO. Will the Popular People’s Assembly of Oaxaca be put down by armed force before the December presidential transition? Whatever antipathy may exist between the PAN-led federal government and the PRI state government the People’s Assembly opposes, we should have known better than to think Fox would allow Calderon to begin his term with a state of parallel power persisting in the Oaxaca’s capital. From the conservative MexiData:

Oaxaca, Mexico — Members of the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO) have started to strengthen their security measures in Oaxaca City, in fear of a move to dislodge them by police forces.

Self-defense groups are setting up roadblocks, and they are gathering Molotov cocktails, pipes, sticks and stones after the APPO declared a “red alert” Monday night.

This capital city is virtually closed with barricades, behind which are a significant number of women.

According to the APPO, last night Governor Ulises Ruiz went to the State Education Institute, accompanied by notaries, where he named four officials to replace leaders of the (striking) teachers who had held administrative positions.

Meanwhile, 378 Oaxacan mayors — out of the 570 municipalities [counties] in the Mexican state — traveled to Mexico City to meet with Carlos Abascal, the Secretary of Government. The mayors are demanding that Abascal send in federal forces, in keeping with the agreement made by the Oaxaca state legislature.

Headed by Bulmaro Rito Salinas [PRI], president of the state congress, the mayors are rejecting an eventual forced resignation of the governor.

In an interview, Rito Salinas said that the radical teachers and APPO groups are connected with guerrillas.

In both the Mexican Senate and [federal] Chamber of Deputies, members of all political parties are calling for an emergency solution to the conflict, otherwise the violence could spread to other states. However they are rejecting the use of force as the means to do so.

As for those 378 mayors clamoring for federal armed intervention against the APPO, keep in mind that Oaxaca has more municipalities than any state in Mexico, many of them no more than small mountain villages and nearly all of them harshly divided. In many cases, these official “mayors” were “elected” through patronage and fraud, and now have no real power on the ground, with local government in the hands of indigenous and campesino councils loyal to the APPO.

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