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Related Categories: Americas | International
THE SIEGE OF OAXACA: A CHRONICLE
by Radio Sabotaje (reposted)
Wednesday Nov 1st, 2006 7:13 AM
Early yesterday morning, 6,000 troops arrived on the outskirts of the city of Oaxaca, at the town of San Pablo Etla and the Oaxaca international airport. They included agents of the Federal Preventive Police (PFP), task forces of the Mexican Army and Navy, and special groups of the Federal Agency of Investigations (AFI).
Troop movements began in the early morning hours when truckloads of federal police arrived and Hercules planes carrying troops also landed, thereby beginning the strategic invasion of the center of the city of Oaxaca.
The PFP began its march, crossing the international highway and Símbolos Patrios Avenue near the Atoyac River. They finally concentrated on three entry points into the city, setting up checkpoints and knocking down barricades with bulldozers and tanks.
The federal forces came in a little before 2:00 o’clock in the afternoon, avoiding or dissolving the human blockades on Simbolos Patrios Avenue and at the Technological Institute of Oaxaca. People from surrounding neighborhoods went out into the street in an incredible show of solidarity, to momentarily stop “the grays” that were equipped with around 20 anti-riot tanks.
At the same time, around 2:00 p.m., the first incursions were made into the territories controlled by the Popular Assembly of the People of Oaxaca (APPO), when small battalions appeared on Independencia and Bustamente streets and others around the Central de Abastos, the main market on the city’s outer loop.

In response to these efforts to take over the center of the city, several different barricades were reinforced by people who decided to stay near the kiosk in Oaxaca’s main plaza, with the expectation that in a few hours more people would arrive in the march called for on Radio Universidad.
Unlike the confrontations that occurred on the outskirts of the city, the PFP’s arrival at the four corners of the main plaza and the installation of its repressive forces occurred after a long, desperate wait, which added to the feeling of impotence on the part of the civilians who were standing guard in the plaza. It never occurred to them that the troops wouldn’t utilize maximum force, that they would only station themselves at the entrances and allow the withdrawal of the people.
The march arrived at the main plaza, the zocalo, and people decided that the only thing to do was to reinforce one of the movement’s nerve centers, Radio Universidad. At the same time, they turned over the center of the city to the so-called “forces of order.”
The bloody, exhausting incursion lasted for 14 hours, and took the lives of 3 people. It ended with several operations carried out by the judicial police, who made a number of illegal arrests and searches; approximately 13 people were arrested that night.
“Oaxaca is not Atenco”
The most important thing about this 5-month wait by the people of Oaxaca for a solution to their demands was the resistance they put up during the day and their spontaneous organization in their different clashes with the PFP.
If it hadn’t been for this, the takeover of the city planned the day before would have been a political defeat for the combative people of the APPO, causing a negative effect in the entire community and all the social organizations that unconditionally support the struggle in this state.

To tell the truth, though, more bloodshed was expected (although certainly not wanted) during the withdrawal. The surprise for me and for many other people was that passive resistance does work in cases of imminent, massive repression. The PFP seems to be lost in the city or like it only came to clean up the kiosk in the main plaza and make things look nice, but not to resolve anything, much less frighten the movement of the Oaxacan people. Tourists in gray stamped on the corners of the plaza, with M16s and anti-riot equipment.
After nightfall, the people made an evaluation and decided to leave the center of the city in order to avoid massive beatings and arrests. Over Radio Universidad, they called on people to reflect on the situation and urged them not to expose themselves to police attacks and to avoid being arrested in vain. They also encouraged people to go back to the plaza and the radio station on Monday morning, betting on being able to wear down the federal government and their repressive forces. The idea is that “in this city they’re not going to repress us and they’re not going to win a thing. These damned rapists aren’t going to make us bow down. Oaxaca is not Atenco.”
The woman who shouted this out knew that the operation had turned out to be a defeat for governor Ulises Ruiz and another enormous stain on the present (and future) federal government.

The cameras didn’t lie. The people resisted. The people want a solution, and they reject the easy answers of the state and federal government. The people of Oaxaca are at a crossroads of history once again. Right now they’re betting everything they have on finding a new way forward, answers, peace.
Even so, it’s just beginning.
From here, I encourage all the compas in solidarity with Oaxaca to take part in the different mobilizations that are happening throughout the country and in Mexico City.
No more bloodshed! No more political prisoners!
Oaxaca is not a military base! Army out now!
URO out now!
Reporting from the city of Oaxaca: Ma-G-Tron
P.S.: Brad, we’re really going to miss you.

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