Oaxaqueños march to Mexico City

Even as the administration of President Vicente Fox renewed its pledge to find a negotiated solution to the crisis in Oaxaca, some 4,000 protesters left the state capital Sept. 21 on a planned two-week cross-country march to Mexico City, where they intend to establish an encampment outside the Senate to press their demand for the ouster of Gov. Ulises Ruiz.

El Universal reports that the march kicked off amid some dissension, as leaders of local Section 22 of the National Education Workers Syndicate (SNTE), which has been at the forefront of the movement, said they were "re-evaluating" the strategy and asked their followers to stay put. But a large contingent of teachers set out anyway, joining members of the Popular People's Assembly of Oaxaca (APPO) in a procession north on the Oaxaca-Mexico City highway.

Fox had warned the day before that, while negotiations with the APPO continue, "patience has a limit." APPO leader Flavio Sosa responded to El Universal: "If the PFP [Federal Preventive Police] enters Oaxaca, it will be the biggest political error Fox could make. The message would be that he could not consolidate democracy." (La Jornada, Sept. 23; El Universal, Sept. 22)

The day after the march set out, the disputed president-elect, Felipe Calderon, held a three-hour closed-doors meeting in Mexico City with politicians and business leaders from Oaxaca and around the country to analyze the conflict in the state. Among those present were Jorge Alberto Valencia, state leader of the National Action Party (PAN); Santiago Creel Miranda, PAN leader in the Senate and Fox's former Government Secretary; federal deputy and former Oaxaca governor Diodoro Carrasco; and business magnate Alfredo Harp Helu. After the meeting, Valencia told the press that the PAN has never supported Ruiz, but that it would be against the law to "yield to the blackmail" of APPO. (La Jornada, Sept. 23)

Meanwhile, in a case of poetic justice, the former prison and headquarters of the notoriously brutal and corrupt state Preventative Police in Oaxaca City is being occupied by a group of young anarchist squatters under the banner of the Intercultural Occupation in Resistance (OIR). (La Jornada, Sept. 19)

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See our last posts on Mexico and the struggle in Oaxaca.