Oaxaca: police open fire at protest

From El Universal Aug. 8 via Chiapas95:

OAXACA- Police fired bullets into the air to clear more than 100 protesters outside Oaxaca state’s economy secretariat – the latest violence in a wave of confrontations that have scared many tourists out of the historic city in southern Mexico.

Oaxaca City police commander Aristeo Lopez said that about 20 officers fired their guns Monday after the protesters attacked them with sticks and stones.

However, protester Vicente Jesus Rodriguez said the shooting was unprovoked. “We arrived in peace and they attacked us,” he said.

There were no reported injuries, but several parked cars in the area
were damaged.

The demonstrators, a mix of unionists and activists, are demanding the resignation of Oaxaca Gov. Ulises Ruiz, who they say rigged the 2004 election to win office and then violently repressing dissent. The protests erupted in late June after police attacked a demonstration of striking teachers seeking a wage increase.

Demonstrators have erected makeshift barricades around the city center, occupied the state television station and stolen government vehicles.

On Sunday, Ruiz said he asked the Federal Preventative Police, a national force made up of many former and active soldiers, to help deal with the protesters.

But on Monday, Interior Secretary Carlos Abascal said federal police would not be sent to Oaxaca.

“The Interior Secretariat is still convinced that the only way out of the conflict in Oaxaca is a political solution, and we are going to double our efforts to find an agreement between the protesters and the state government,” Abascal said in a news conference.

Last week, an angry crowd of 500 women, banging spoons against pots and pans, seized installations of the state-run Channel 9. They have been broadcasting videos showing police beating demonstrators and protesters reading speeches calling for Ruiz’s resignation.

The demonstrations have driven many tourists out of the city, costing businesses more than US$45 million, according to the Mexican Employers Federation. Business leaders also have asked the federal government to intervene.

See our last posts on Mexico and the Oaxaca crisis.