Revolution #69, November 19, 2006


Defiance in Oaxaca

On October 29, the Mexican government sent 4,000 heavily armed federal police (PFP) into the southern state of Oaxaca to break the struggle of people there by armed force.

For over five months, teachers and their supporters had taken over the central town square of Oaxaca City, shut down the highways, blocked government buildings and taken over radio and television stations. Their movement demanded a living wage and that the state’s hated governor, Ulises Ruiz Ortiz (URO), be thrown out of power.

The invading PFP forces attacked the barricades and encampments of the people and took back most of the radio and TV stations. Since then, the police and pro-government death squads have carried out a brutal campaign of arrests, killings, and open armed attacks. At least 15 people have been murdered, at least 120 people have been imprisoned, and dozens of people have “disappeared.” There are reports of government torture.

People have continued to resist in the face of these heavy attacks and have attracted broad support and solidarity. On November 3, the federal police tried to retake the Autonomous University of Oaxaca Benito Juarez (UABJO). Hundreds of people stood their ground, armed with sticks and rocks through a seven-hour confrontation, until the police retreated. “We did it! They couldn’t take it!” the crowd shouted.

On November 4, in Los Angeles, 250 marched in support of the Oaxacan struggle from Pico Union to the Mexican consulate. Many spoke of the bitter suffering of people in Mexico. One man from Oaxaca said, “Humanity is capable of many things, but the government suffocates us, they have us working like animals, they have us fighting each other.”

On Sunday, November 5, people poured into Oaxaca City—braving military roadblocks in surrounding areas—to join the first “Mega March” since the October 29 PFP attack. Hundreds of thousands of people covered three miles of Highway 190—demanding the removal of URO from power, the withdrawal of the government’s murderous armed forces, and the safe release of all people seized by police and reactionaries. In defiance of the government’s naked brutality, people chanted, “Dying is not too much to ask for Oaxaca!” And, on this day at least, the hated federal police were forced to hunker down defensively behind fortifications in the city center.

On November 7, 10,000 women marched to denounce government murders and arrests. Spearheaded by the families of the “disappeared” and militant teachers, the marchers demanded the immediate release of all political prisoners and the return of all those “disappeared.” The federal police fired water cannons and marbles into the crowd, as women shouted “Murderers!”

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