Preparations for War in Oaxaca
Military Aircraft Doing Reconnaissance Flights Over APPO Encampments
By Diego Enrique Osorno and Óscar Rodríguez
October 1, 2006
The Mexican Navy carried out a reconnaissance operation over the buildings and public spaces occupied by the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO in its Spanish initials).
Two MI-17 helicopters and one CASA C212 Navy airplane with registration number AMP-118 flew over the streets of the city – where opponents of Governor Ulises Ruiz Ortiz have maintained several encampments over the past 130 days – for about 40 minutes.
The zocalo, or central city square, the Oro and La Ley radio stations, the state government building, the Brenamiel and El Rosario radio antennas, as well as the Department of Finance building – all places where the rebels have installed protest camps – were reconnoitered by low-level flights of military aircraft.
As they passed over the Radio Oro facilities, the two helicopters were fruitlessly “attacked” with rockets and fireworks that teachers of the National Education Workers’ Union local Section 22 launched from Conzatti Garden. The airplane then made four more passes over the areas around the zocalo and returned to the airport, where five other military aircraft were stationed.
At 5:30 that afternoon, the naval surveillance plane and two AMHT-202 and AMHT-205 helicopters landed on a city airstrip and let out 18 soldiers in black-and-grey camouflage, bulletproof vests, helmets and firearms.
Lino Celaya Luría, state secretary of Citizen Protection, confirmed that the objective of the military flights was to “reconnoiter” the scene of the conflict, but claimed not to know if this was the prelude to an eventual federal operation to remove the protesters.
The state official limited himself to saying: “We were informed that a flight would occur over the areas where the dissidents are present. We believe this is to obtain field information on the situation.”
Meanwhile, from the occupied radio stations, the rebels again declared a maximum alert in the face of what they imagine could be the beginning of a removal/eviction operation against the popular and teachers’ movement.
Broadcasting on the radio station 710 AM, known as “The Law of the People,” the Popular Assembly’s “vigilance committee” directed a message to listeners, urging them to remain calm and prudent in the face of what they called an “act of provocation.”
In several different city neighborhoods, residents and APPO sympathizers began building barricades hours earlier than what has become a nightly custom, and also unleashed a thundering chorus of fireworks to alert the general population to the situation.
At night, a convoy of 30 military vehicles mobilized on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. At 10:00, Section 22 reinforced its barricades and warned over the radio that it will block people from entering or leaving the city.
Flavio Sosa, a member of the provisional leadership committee of the APPO, warned assistant interior secretary Francisco Yáñez Centeno via telephone: “Fox is going to stain his hands with blood if he allows this to happen.”
“They hope to bend us through terror,” said teacher Rogelio Pensamiento, another member of the leadership committee. “Nevertheless, the APPO has demonstrated its political capacity because we are willing to negotiate, but only under conditions of equality. We will not accept them intimidating us. We call for people to remain in the encampments.”
Translation: Narco News
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