Mexico: More violence in Oaxaca

Confrontations between police and demonstrators result in 48 wounded and 60 arrests

Yesterday, Saturday 25 November, another big mobilisation by the APPO (Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca) ended with the demonstration being attacked by the militarised police force permanently encamped in the historic city centre of Oaxaca.

After a five hour battle with the police using teargas, water cannon and baton charges more than 48 people were carried off wounded. The protesters responded with molotov cocktails and set fire to government buildings and hotels.

Earlier in the day the APPO had occupied toll booths on the motorways from Mexico city to Cuernavera, Mexico City to Puebla and Mexico City to Querétaro. For two hours cars were allowed to pass through with paying tolls. This action was to prove that the popular support for APPO goes beyond Oaxaca state and is spreading to other states of Mexico.

This action, 6 days before the president elect Filipe Calderon is officially inaugurated, must fill the political and economical elite of Mexico with fear. Judging from the actions taken by the authorities in the last few days the option seems to be to try and repress the popular movement by any means necessary.

Ulises Ruiz, the hated governor of Oaxaca, declared in a press conference last night that the police has received orders “to detain anyone involved in the rioting, including those who have been negotiating on behalf of APPO”. César Mateo Benítez, spokesperson of the APPO, has already been arrested as has Jorge Luis Sosa Campos, the nephew of one of the most visible APPO leaders, Flavio Sosa.

Over the last weeks some of the members of the APPO have been released from prison only to tell stories, carrying visible proof on their bodies, of terrible torture by the police. A new commander of the PFP, the militarised police, has been appointed. It is none other than Teófilo Gutíerrez, the man who has been given the responsibility to suppres the uprising in Chiapas over the last 7 years.

Six years ago, when President Fox became president he swore he would solve the problem in Chiapas “in 15 minutes”. Today the revolt in Chiapas, albeit on a lower scale, is still going on. The next president Calderon already looks like a lame duck and he has yet to swear the oath.

The next week, leading up to 1 December, promises more demonstrations and more political unrest. Manuel Lopez Obrador is calling for a mass gathering and protest in the Zócalo, the main square in Mexico City.

We urge everyone to send solidarity messages to APPO and protest against the state repression and violence used to quell the popular uprising.

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November 2006