<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: The End of Tolerance

Why is this Repression Carried out Against the Popular Movement? And why Now?


By Luis Hernández Navarro
La Jornada

November 28, 2006

Oaxaca in 2006 is like Sonora in 1902. At the beginning of the 20th Century the government of Portifirio Diaz confronted the rebellion of the yaqui indigenous people and deported the first indigenous prisoners to the Yucatan, Jalisco, Tlaxcala and Veracruz. In the beginning of the 21st century, the administration of Vincente Fox is responding to the uprising in Oaxaca by sending the 141 detained persons to the prison of San Jose del Rincon in Nayarit.

Vincente Fox will end his six years in power with his hands full of blood. “The tolerance has run out” in Oaxaca, says General Ardelio Vargas, chief of the large force of the Federal Preventive Police (PFP), and one of the “heroes”, along with Admiral Wilfrido Robledo, of the repression in Atenco. It is their dogs that are in the street. They throw tear gas, violently beat people, arrest without warrants, invade houses without authorization, destroy property, occupy hospitals and clinics, interfere with the free movement of citizens and sexually violate women.

In the streets the youth are indiscriminately arrested for the sole crime of being young. The prisoners are mistreated, tortured and jailed alongside common criminals. Judicial defense lawyers and family members are not allowed to visit. And, just as with Porfirio Diaz, they are deported.

But the abuses that are carried out against the civilian population by the PFP are not limited to those which are directly committed. Members of the PFP also act as the protectors of the hit men who work in the service of Ulises Ruiz. These gunmen and police, dressed as civilians, travel the streets of Oaxaca City in vehicles with which they kidnap and disappear members of the APPO. These are the caravans of death. These men have been responsible for most of the 20 homicides perpetrated against APPO.

Why is this repression carried out against the popular movement of Oaxaca? And why now? What happened that exhausted the “tolerance” of the federal authorities? Basically there is one reason: in less than a week the Chief Executive will take power in the middle of a huge crisis of legitimacy. Felipe Calderon demanded that Vincent Fox, since he had not resolved the conflict of Oaxaca, at least leave the social movement weakened enough to guarantee a future for negotiation under conditions favorable to the government. With prisoners and persecuted persons, one would imagine that reaching an agreement with the demonstrators would be easier and cheaper. Calderon demanded that it be the outgoing administration and not the incoming one that pays the price of disrepute for the repression of Oaxaca. In summary: that the way would be cleared. In this way, Calderon was able to discourage the massive presence of Oaxacans who would have contested his assumption of power during the coming first days of December.

The overwhelming presence of the PFP in Oaxaca since October 29 did not stop the protests against Ulises Ruiz from keeping up a vibrant presence. It did not break up the popular organization nor stop the revolt. On the contrary, the APPO excitedly continued with the formation of its congress and reaffirmed its internal unity.

Nevertheless, apart from the confrontations like those that occurred on November 2, the conflict at hand was relatively contained. Governability had not been reestablished, nor had the normality of daily life in the city, but points of informal communication existed between the federal government and the directors of the APPO: It was, at that time, a conflict that was relatively administered. This status, however, was inconvenient for the government and so it decided to enter the city and break the situation.

Did the popular movement do something that broke this balance? No, definitely not. The demonstrations of this past Saturday were absolutely peaceful. It was, obviously, a demonstration with much power, but it did not constitute an act of violence. The decision to use violence came from, as has been amply documented, the PFP. It was the members of this institution that threw projectiles and later tear gas at the demonstrators. It was they who began the aggression. And they did it brutality and with rancor. They were there to crush the demonstrators, and to make them pay with a vengeance. The repression was savage: three deaths, more than 100 injured, 221 detained.

And the PFP did all of this alongside the gunmen and the police, dressed as civilians who are in the service of Ulises Ruiz, while protecting them. They fired against and they kidnapped defenseless civilians, attacked those who were in the bus station of ADO (a bus company) waiting for transportation out of the city and did what they had done during the last few months: seed terror.

Simultaneously, Radio Ciudadana, popularly known as “Radio Patito,” the pirate station of state government loyalists, called upon those in Oaxaca to set fire to the homes of well-known members of the popular movement. This was not a joke. On Sunday, November 26, the offices of Flavio Sosa, one of the most well-known voices of the APPO, were burned. Of course, neither the PFP nor the state police prevented it.

“[The situation] is becoming normalized,” Ulises Ruiz said in one more of his involuntary jokes. “There will not be forgiveness,” he warned. As candidate for governor of the state, Ulises introduced himself as “a man of unity (unidad).” Today we know that at that time he was missing three letters from the word: Ruiz is the politician of impunity (impunidad).

The repressive violence in Oaxaca is the gold clasp in which Vicente Fox closes his six years in office, but it is also the card that presents Felipe Calderon. Without recognizing it, they have decreed a state of siege. The rights of the individual have disappeared entirely.

Nonetheless, the measure is not going to solve anything. Those who executed the state of siege have forgotten two small details. First, the enormous capacity for resistance that exists among the people of Oaxaca, and second, that what they have really done in suppressing the people is to further spread the recognition of the state’s crimes, indignation and the desire for revenge on the part of the citizens in many parts of the nation. The tolerance, understand this well, has also run out on the other side.

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