In a pre-dawn raid yesterday, Oaxaca state police with helicopters, tear gas and firearms evicted several thousand striking school teachers from the plantón, or ongoing protest encampment, they had been maintaining for two weeks in Oaxaca City’s central plaza. Witnesses said police fired and the crowd, and local radio reports claim two dead. Two police officers were being held hostage by teachers, state officials said. (Reuters, June 14) Mexico City leaders of the National Coordinating Body of Educational Workers (CNTE) also claimed two teachers had been killed in the attack, and six “disappeared.” (El Universal, June 15) Oaxaca Gov. Ulises Ruiz Ortiz denied in an official TV and radio address that any teachers had been killed. (Notimex, June 14) Police also destroyed the equipment of Radio Plantón, a micro-station that has been continuously transmitting from the plaza. (Indymedia Mexico, June 14)
President Vicente Fox refused to condemn the police action, cloaking the issue in terms of states’ rights. Presidential spokesman Ruben Aguilar Valenzuela said the federal government repects the soveriegnty of the states, adding “never again will we have the presidential authoritarianism, never again the centralism; we have embraced democracy and we now have real federalism.” (Notimex, June 14) That same day five planes with 700 elite Federal Preventative Police landed in Oaxaca. (El Universal, June 14)
In Mexico City, the EZLN Sixth Commission—the Zapatista rebel delegation which has been touring Mexico—issued the following statement (translation by Narco News):
Informative Bulletin from the Sixth Commission of the EZLN
(from the Other Mexico City)
June 14, 2006
To all the adherents to the Other Campaign and the Sixth Declaration:
The Sixth Commission of the EZLN informs you that it has received the following confirmed information:
1. Police from the state government of Oaxaca, in unknown numbers, at approximately 4:30 this morning, attacked the camp that striking teachers from the state are maintaining in order to demand better working conditions and against the authoritarian government of Ulises Ruiz.
2. The governmental aggression was accompanied by at least one helicopter that dropped teargas. The facilities of “Radio Plantón,” an alternative radio station in which several adherent organizations to the Other Campaign of the Oaxaca Zapatista Network (ROZ in its Spanish initials) were destroyed in the attack. People are speaking of at least 12 teachers arrested, an undefined number of injured (one of them seriously hurt in the eye), and a woman who may have had her pregnancy aborted by the gases.
3. At this time (12:00) it has been confirmed that the teachers retook the Zócalo (central square) in Oaxaca City and are occupying it, and that the police have regrouped.
The Sixth Commission of the EZLN makes an urgent call to all adherents at the national and international levels to CONDEMN THIS NEW DEMONSTRATION OF STATE REPRESSION with public statements and actions of support, and:
– Not to trust any information disseminated about these events in the mass media.
– To give credence to the information provided by the teachers’ movement of Oaxaca through channels that the movement itself determines, to the information confirmed in the alternative media, and to the Other Oaxaca.
– To stay attentive to any actions that our compañeros from the Other Oaxaca who participate in the teachers’ movement require.
For the Sixth Commission of the EZLN.
Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos
Mexico, June 14, 2006
All sources archived at Chiapas95.