Oaxaca: APPO and teachers block government offices
Teachers from the Section 22 union local in Mexico's divided southern state of Oaxaca launched blockades and occupations of government offices throughout the state Feb. 20, demanding that their members be allowed back into 250 schools where authorities have installed teachers from the rival, newly-formed Section 59. (APRO, Feb. 21) In Oaxaca City, followers of the Popular People's Assembly of Oaxaca (APPO) occupied the offices of the state Government Secretary in solidarity with the Section 22 teachers. APPO followers also seized government offices at more than 20 locations around the state. (El Universal, Feb. 22) Violence was reported in Juchitan, where hundreds of Section 22 and Section 59 teachers battled with rocks and clubs for control of a local school. (APRO, Feb. 20; La Jornada, Feb. 21) As of Feb. 23, the protesters remained in control of several government offices throughout the state, but Government Secretary Teofilo Manuel Garcia Corpus said force could be used to remove them. (La Jornada, Feb. 23)
Key APPO leaders remain behind bars following November's wave of repression. More than 20 days after the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) issued an "urgent" demand that federal authorities transfer the Sosa Villavicencio brothers (Flavio, Horacio and Erick) to facilities in Oaxaca, they remain incarcerated at Altiplano prison in Mexico state and Matamoros prison on the Texas border. (La Jornada, Feb. 20)
The local Cuali Nemilistli Network also reports a campaign of "harassment and intimidation" against human rights workers in Oaxaca. Two weeks ago, agents of the Federal Investigation Agency (AFI) searched the offices of the Working Together Community Support Center (Centro de Apoyo Comunitario Trabajando Unidos-CACTUS), at Huajuapan del León in the Mixtec region, demanding that the local activist Omar Esparza Zarate appear at the regional office of the Prosecutor General of the Republic (PGR) for questioning in relation to unidentified events during last year's unrest. Fearing an "arbitrary arrest" by federal police, Esparza turned himself in at the regional PGR offices to hear the charges against him. The Cuali Nemilistli Network also reports that Esparza has been harassed by the authorities before, and in January 2006 was arbitrarily detained by municipal police in Huajuapan del León after his vehicle was stopped. (La Lornada, Feb. 23)
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