<i>"The Name of Our Country is América" - Simon Bolivar</i> The Narco News Bulletin<br><small>Reporting on the War on Drugs and Democracy from Latin America
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Oaxaca Popular and Indigenous Organizations Boycott Negotiating Session in Mexico City

They Refuse to Sit at the Same Table as Ulises Ruiz; the Federal Government Says It Will Try Again on Thursday


By Kristin Bricker
The Other Journalism with the Other Campaign in Mexico City

October 8, 2006

The Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO, in its Spanish initials) refused to attend the “Forum for Governability, Peace, and Development of Oaxaca” that was scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 4, at the Ministry of the Interior building in Mexico City. Instead, it staged a protest outside the “anarchist-proof fence” that the government erected around the perimeter of the building. The protesters, led by the August First Oaxacan Women’s Coordinating Committee (the group that took state TV channel 9 on that date), staged a mock crucifixion of Oaxacan women to signify their sacrifices in the face of so much bloodshed and injustice. They also demanded the unconditional release of political prisoners, particularly APPO members German Mendoz Anube, Rogelio Mendoza Gonzalez, Katarina Catora Esperera, Ramira Perez, and Pedro Garcia Garcia.


Photo: D.R. 2006 Simon Fitz
Interior Carlos Abascal Carranza had called for a negotiating session with APPO and striking teachers of Oaxaca, along with businesspeople and clergy. The Women’s Coordinating Committee, in a written statement, called the forum Abascal’s attempt “to give legitimacy to nefarious actors in the Oaxacan Chamber of Commerce and state government.” The committee also objects to the terms of the forum. The APPO, a coalition of a broad range of social organizations, was only given two seats at the table – insufficient for meaningful APPO representation. Furthermore, the APPO refuses to sit at the same table as Gov. Ulises Ruiz Ortiz, who has kidnapped, disappeared, tortured, and killed many Oaxacans during his disputed term in office.

Section 22 of the teachers’ union also refused to attend the Forum. In addition, Oaxacan indigenous leaders and painter Francisco Toledo (the latter of whom has been criticized by some APPO members for being too willing to negotiate) walked out of the forum after delivering a letter that outlined their position and protest. They complained that they were invited at the last minute and were not sufficiently briefed beforehand about the proposals on the table, which did not represent the Oaxacan perspective. They decried the lack of representative Oaxacan participation and the failure of the forum to address the “indigenous question” despite the fact that the majority of Oaxacans are indigenous. They also stated that governability cannot exist in Oaxaca so long as Ruiz Ortiz continues to “flaunt” his position as governor, and they demanded that his power be stripped as outlined in the Federal Constitution. While they refused to participate in today’s forum, they, along with the APPO, reaffirmed their commitment to “an authentic and truthful dialogue.”

APPO leader Flavio Sosa attended the protest in spite of an outstanding arrest warrant against him. He said that while the APPO did not attend today’s forum, 28 representatives would attend Thursday’s meeting at the Department of the Interior. Despite Wednesday’s boycott and walkout, Sosa maintained that “the Oaxacan people are optimistic.” While Ulises Ruiz’s resignation is still nonnegotiable, Sosa hinted that an interim solution might be “at the very least a temporary resignation that would permit us to lower the tension in the state and discuss the laws that we want reformed.”

Protesters outside the Ministry of the Interior denounced the increasing militarization of Oaxacan communities. Despite Abascal’s announcement on Tuesday that “in the name of God we absolutely will not commit repression in Oaxaca,” no one is convinced that the government will keep its word. As a precautionary measure against a potential Federal Preventive Police invasion, Oaxacan civil society organizations are calling for Mexican and international solidarity activists to come to Oaxaca for a peace encampment. Lila Zenteno, spokesperson for the August First Oaxacan Women’s Coordinating Committee, points out that while the government itself might not wage a full-scale attack against Oaxaca, it is relying heavily on paramilitaries and armed commandos to do the dirty work of repressing the movement.

Her point is underscored by Tuesday’s murder of Arcadio Fabian Hernandez Santiago in San Antonio de Castillo Velasco, Oaxaca. According to La Jornada, he was a member of the municipal guard, a “people’s police squad” set up by the APPO-affiliated popular council that has governed San Antonio since PRI mayor Joel Lopez Sanchez was kicked out of office a few months ago. Hernandez Santiago was ambushed along with six other guards who survived. They were able to identify one of the shooters as the ex-police chief of San Antonio, Meliton Lopez Gomez, who was fired by popular mandate at the same time as Mayor Sanchez.

In the face of increasing violence and military presence in their communities, Oaxacans remain steadfast in their demands. They continue to expand the scope of their organizing, first at the national level and now at the international level. While still holding the barricades in Oaxaca, they are building their strength here in the capital. More contingents of Oaxacans arrive in Mexico City almost daily, and the Oaxaca-to-Mexico City march is expected to culminate in a rally in the Zócalo on October 9.

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The Narco News Bulletin: Reporting on the Drug War and Democracy from Latin America