Wednesday, October 04, 2006

All posts were moved (11/2006) to

In Oaxaca they hate the gov'nor... now we all did what we could do...

(Edited 14:30, Wednesday) Xicanopwr and The Unapologetic Mexican present an excellent backgrounder on Oaxaca. Kelly Arthur Garrett (the "Mexico's best damn political reporter in English") with help Justino Miranda in Cuautla, Morelos and Jorge Octavio Ochoa in Oaxaca presents an overview in today's Mexico City Herald:
Interior Secretary Carlos Abascal told Congress Tuesday that the federal government has no intention of using force to end the four-month-old civil strife that has closed the state´s schools, paralyzed Oaxaca City´s Historic Center and rendered the state government virtually impotent. Abascal, the Fox administration official in charge of the ever-intensifying Oaxaca crisis, was interrupted and jeered by placard-carrying Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) legislators, but managed to make his point in no uncertain terms. "In the name of God, we will carry out absolutely no repression," he said. But in the kind of hedged language that has convinced many striking teachers and allied social groups that a federal crackdown is imminent, Abascal also said the Fox administration would be within its rights in sending in federal police or military troops. "The Constitution establishes the obligation of authorities to re-establish law and order," he told a full session of the Chamber of Deputies. "But I am not anticipating an intervention." Abascal´s invocation of the deity in his remarks to Congress later prompted a wry response from a teachers´ spokesperson 100 kilometers away. "He (Abascal) preaches from the pulpit with a crucifix in his right hand and a club in his left," said Omar Olivera Espinosa, spokesperson for a contingent of several thousand teachers and their supporters who are marching from the city of Oaxaca to Mexico City. Olivera made his comment in the town of Amilcingo in the state of Morelos, where the marchers rested Tuesday night. Abascal criticized the Oaxaca teachers and the Oaxaca People´s Assembly (APPO) for spurning recent invitations to dialogue. "The efforts that this secretariat have made have not always been responded to," he said. "We will continue to do everything within our reach." Abascal urged strike leaders to participate in a "forum" scheduled for Wednesday, at which bankers, business leaders, clergy members, party leaders and elected legislators plan to discuss a proposed reform package called the Pact for Governability, Peace and Development for Oaxaca. But the union leaders announced Tuesday night that they would skip the forum, saying the list of participants was stacked in favor of "interest groups." Instead, Oaxaca teachers union leader Enrique Rueda Pacheco said a formal request had been sent to the Interior Secretariat for an "alternate table" at the forum, separate from the clergy, the business leaders and the governor. If that request is honored, he said, the teachers will consider making the trip to Mexico City. APPO leaders were still meeting Tuesday night to decide if they would follow suit with the teachers. The teachers broke off talks with the federal government on Sept. 20 after becoming convinced that their demand for the ouster of Oaxaca Gov. Ulises Ruiz would not be honored. Fox and Abascal´s National Action Party (PAN) has sided with the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) in protecting Ruiz, though so far the PRI is the only political force openly calling for the use of federal troops to protect Ruiz´s state government. APPO joined the teachers´ protest in June, after Ruiz decided to physically challenge the strikers instead of negotiating with them. But the dozens of labor and social organizations that eventually united in APPO had opposed Ruiz long before his failed attempt to remove the striking teachers from their encampments in downtown Oaxaca City. "There are robust antecedents in the authoritarian style of the previous governor, José Murat, who left behind (in 2004) a social polarization," said political scientist Alberto Aziz Nassif in his weekly EL UNIVERSAL column Tuesday. The PRI has had such a longtime lock on Oaxaca politics that Ruiz´s 2004 victory over a coalition candidate representing all the other parties was seen not as an indication of his popularity but a confirmation of the PRI´s ability to manipulate the electoral process in that state. "Ulises came in with a credibility deficit and started right in with repressive actions against social leaders and an attack on independent media outlets, such as the daily Noticias," said Aziz. Only the PRD has backed the teachers and APPO in calling for Ruiz to step down, and in ruling out federal force under any circumstances. PRD leaders said Tuesday they have called off a planned Oaxaca City meeting of their national committee that had been announced for Wednesday. PRD secretary-general Guadalupe Acosta, who originally promoted the presence of the PRD leadership in the heart of the conflict as a deterrent to violence, said Tuesday he feared the meeting would be used as a pretext for trouble. With talks stalled, the marchers steadily approaching Mexico City and Oaxaca kids still out of school, the crisis has turned into a kind of slow-motion waiting game. Military helicopters circling over Oaxaca on Sunday and Monday added to the tension, as did several explosives set off in front of Oaxaca buildings Monday. Federal Attorney General Office spokespersons on Tuesday said the bombs (which hurt nobody and did little damage) may have been the work of known guerrilla groups such as the Revolutionary People´s Army (EPR) using a new alias [see below] APPO and the teachers suspect the explosions were deliberate provocations by authorities to justify a federal crackdown. "If a political solution is achieved and Ruiz leaves ... that would be a triumph of the political process," said Aziz. "But if force is resorted to, that will only aggravate the conflict. We´ll see."
The teachers' march has reached Mexico City, and talks bbetween APPO, the Federal and State Government, the Catholic Church and a citizens group led by Francisco Toledo are still scheduled to start Wednesday (tomorrow). Oaxaca Tense at start of Talks
(I know it's the Cuban News Agency... but for "just the facts" news, they generally have better Latin American coverage than the U.S. and Canadian press) Mexico, Oct 3 (Prensa Latina) Tension still prevails in the Mexican state of Oaxaca, though the Secretariat of Government has guaranteed security will be maintained to resume talks with its social movement. Oaxaca residents are on the alert, after military planes flew over the city last weekend, three firecrackers exploded in the banking area, and one student is missing. Also, the tense situation persists amid the risk of an intervention by the federal forces to solve the socio-political conflict in Oaxaca, whose residents are demanding the dismissal of governor Ulises Ruiz. The resumption of negotiations with the leadership of the Popular Assembly of the People of Oaxaca (APPO) is scheduled for Wednesday, when the so called pact for the governability, peace, and development of the state is expected to be signed. Regarding this, President Vicente Fox assured his government will spare no effort in solving the Oaxaca conflict, but warned that if things do not work out, those who violate the law will be punished. Fox also indicated his administration favors talks and is working hard to reach all the agreements necessary to solve the crisis democratically.
Jornada Enrique Méndez with Octavio Vélez in Oaxaca (Jornada)my translation
The People's Assembly of Oaxaca (APPO) has responded to Interior Minister Carlos Abascal Carranza, saying that if the Army enters the State Capital, "you can be sure, it's lot us who will be running." APPO leader Flavio Sosa said Abascal is talking out of both sides of his mouth, warning us we need to bargain in good faith, while issuing an ultimatum we aren't going to accept. Also this morning, Oaxaca Governor Ulises Ruiz appeared in Llano Park to "inaugurate" a stone image of the Virgin of Guadalupe produced in a local quarry, protected by about 500 municipal and ministerial police. Ruiz took advantage of the occasion to demand the Federal government "takes the side of the citizens who want their rights restored," because "federal crimes were committed by the civil movement that is demanding he stepped down, contrary to law." "We are going to meet the needs of a society that is fed up", he added. APPO considered Ruiz' appearance, in an armored SUV surrounded by armed guards as a provocation. In other news, a tense situation has developed in the community of San Antonino Castillo where the head of the local Padres de Familia (an organization something like the PTA, crossed with the Christian Coalition -- trans. note) shot the APPO selected police chief, and was taken into custody by the community.
Read that last paragraph again... where is the violence coming from? And, it looks to me like the APPO is not just an anarchist group, but has been taking the necessary steps to form functioning municipal governments. Fishy to me... A few bombs went off the other morning outside banks in downtown Oaxaca, supposedly set by some group calling itself the "Revolutionary Armed Organization of the People of Oaxaca" according to the professional anti-terroritsts (it's a security consulting firm) "Strafor" . When I first read about it, I remembered the similar incident about two years ago in Morelos, where another crooked governor was fighting for his political life (though in Morelos, it was only one non-conforming municipality). Then, the alleged "bank bombing terrorists" turned out to be the State Police... part of the plan to force the feds to intervene. Apparently, that's what's going on here, though the new "Revolutionary Armed Organization" could be any number of groups ... pro or anti- Ulises. Organized Crime Special Prosecutor José Luis Santiago Vasconcelos said the story didn't pass the smell test. There is still common sense on the Federal level.


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