[URBANTH-L]NEWS: Protesters pour into Oaxaca

Angela Jancius jancius at ohio.edu
Sun Nov 5 22:02:04 EST 2006

Protesters pour into Mexico's violent Oaxaca city
By Frank Jack Daniel
Reuters, Sun 5 Nov 2006

OAXACA, Mexico (Reuters) - Tens of thousands of protesters trying to oust a 
state governor marched on Sunday in the Mexican tourist city of Oaxaca where 
demonstrators clashed with police last week in a deepening conflict.

Soldiers searched cars for weapons and riot police unrolled razor wire in 
the city centre as a security measure for the protest by opponents of Gov. 
Ulises Ruiz, who is accused of authoritarianism and corruption and refuses 
to resign.

"The people are demanding the Oaxaca governor goes, even though there is 
blood. The people are ready to die," said protester Esther Guzman, a 

A five-month-long local conflict in Oaxaca spiralled into a national problem 
when President Vicente Fox sent thousands of federal riot police to expel 
striking teachers and leftist activists from the street barricades they had 

Federal forces backed by armoured vehicles with water canons clashed with 
protesters throwing gasoline bombs last week. At least one protester was 
killed in clashes, bringing the death toll since the conflict started to 
about 15, mostly activists.

On Sunday, one youth was wounded when gunmen opened fire on a university 
campus occupied by students. The campus contains a protester-run radio 

In Oaxaca city's leafy central square, police donned body armour in fear of 
clashes with marchers. The army checked cars on highways into the city, 
apparently looking for firearms.

Before the crisis, Oaxaca was popular with visitors for its Spanish colonial 
buildings, Indian cultures and thriving art scene. But in the hills beyond 
Oaxaca city's wide valley, villagers live in grinding poverty, with poor 
schooling, few jobs and bad health care.

Fox has vowed to resolve the Oaxaca issue before fellow conservative Felipe 
Calderon takes office on December 1 but Gov. Ruiz, from the opposition 
Institutional Revolutionary Party, refuses to step down.
His opponents, a loose coalition of teachers, Indian groups and leftists, 
also vow not to give in and enjoy the support of a large part of the mostly 
poor population of rural Oaxaca.

A prolonged crisis in the state will be a challenge for Calderon, who 
already faces protests from supporters of his leftist rival Andres Manuel 
Lopez Obrador who claim the conservative won July 2 presidential elections 

"Many different leftist currents are converging here, from the centre-left 
of Lopez Obrador to the most radical," said Isaac Torres, a member of a 
human rights group affiliated with the Zapatista guerrillas.
"If Calderon doesn't moderate his policies he will face problems," he said.

Lopez Obrador supporters organised massive street marches and camped out in 
central Mexico City for much of the summer to reject the July election 

(c) Reuters 2006. All rights reserved. 

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