Oaxaca Updates

OAXACA, Under the Thumb- Dec. 25 (info from La Jornada and from the street)

You will soon be seeing films and hearing recordings of the testimonies of families of prisoners and the disappeared, of prisoners themselves. They are wrenching accounts of brutal treatment, traumatic efforts to find the disappeared, fierce struggles of women to sustain families suddenly without bread-winners. If you would like to contribute economically towards food, clothing, medical care and counseling, and legal defense, you can do so directly through the Comite de Liberacion 25 de Noviembre using the PROOAX account with Scotiabank Inverlat, sucural/branch Oaxaca, account # 2277263, international code for the U.S. and Canada: ABA MBCOMXMM. You can also buy or donate art for the auction tentatively scheduled for January 15 by shipping work to the Galeria Juan Martin, Dickens #33-B, Col. Polanco, C.P, 11560 Mexico, D.F., Mexico, galjuanmartin@prodigy.net.mx

Three groups, importantly, were here last week, in solidarity or as human rights observers. Families of prisoners and disappeared took advantage of their presence to give their testimonies. These witnesses are already spreading the information they gathered, including through Democracy Now.

Voces de la Valentia en Oaxaca-Violations of Women's Human Rights in the Socio-Political Conflict, testimonies of women who have have experienced the abuse of the military in Oaxaca is now in print in Spanish and available.

Human rights workers, both Mexican and international, are being threatened.

Seccion 22 plans has announced it will return to the streets in January if there is no resolution for teachers in 143 schools where their positions have been filled by often unlicensed, untrained substitutes; if promised backpay is not delivered, and other agreements from the government not fullfilled.

Federal money promised to Oaxacan businesses in crisis has gone only to large businesses; of 3500 small businesses 80% are facing bancruptcy.

Triquis communities report "...increased repression of the Oaxacan government" as a result of seven patrols of heavily armed, uniformed Federal Preventative Police searching several towns intent on arresting local leaders.

The Zapatistas report arrests and people disappeared by the PRI militia in Chiapas.

When APPO announced December 23 an alternative "Radish Night" at Santo Domingo church to be held December 24 simultaneous with the government's "Radish Night" on the barricaded zocalo, police closed off Santo Domingo and instituted revisions of people carrying packages and bags, though only of brown skinned people.

Radish Night- the resilient people gathered on the nearby plaza of Carmen Alta with a wild array of carved radishes, music, and song.

Police presence during the march of December 22 was as heavy as during the march of November 25, only the color of the uniforms had changed, and watergun tanks were replaced with fire trucks and firemen. When the march ended peacefully with speakers at La Plaza de la Danza at the Soledad Church, a police patrol crossed the plaza as further intimidation. The testimonies have been so devastating, the continued night detentions so persistent, so many people are still in hiding or have just gone into hiding, the military presence so pervasive, so many people are still missing, that it is nearly impossible to gather- the December 22 march was impressive under the circumstances.

APPO www.asambleapopulardeoaxaca.com has begun to regularly post to its website to restore at least some communication that disappeared with the loss of the radio stations; Ulises Ruiz' website www.puntoyaparteinforme.com.mx goes a long way towards explaining the madness of the Oaxacan repression.

From the federal level, Calderon's Secretary of the Interior Acuna has publically suggested APPO members get restraining orders.

Oaxaca is being "governed" only through military repression and intimidation. The illusion Ulises Ruiz and Felipe Calderon are publicizing that Oaxaca is "returning to normal" is so far from the truth that only absolute military control maintains the calm of the very quiet streets. Businesses are closed, for rent signs are common. Of 14000 communities, 9000 do not recognize Ulises Ruiz.

Witness for Peace is coming to Oaxaca: www.witnessforpeace.org/travel/application.html, for more information, or to reserve a place, contact Katy Kolker, 503-939-4914, katykolker@gmail.com


Update from Mexico Solidarity Network

After a month and a half occupying the historic center of Oaxaca City, the Federal Preventative Police (PFP) removed most of their forces early on Saturday, December 16. Local and state police assumed control of positions abandoned by the PFP. Some PFP troops left Oaxaca City, while many retired to less visible positions several blocks from the city center. The same afternoon, federal and state authorities reached an agreement to release 43 political prisoners, many of whom left the federal prison in Nayarit exhibiting signs of torture and wearing clothing drenched in blood. Five days later, another 16 members of APPO walked out of a Oaxaca state prison. All of the arrestees were released on bond, which totaled more than 52 million pesos. No one is quite sure who posted the bonds, though speculation is that Governor Ulises Ruiz, under pressure from federal authorities, used state funds to free APPO members. The state Attorney General did not object to any of the releases, an indication of the increasing weakness of Ruiz in the face of unabated protests demanding his removal. This still leaves more than 100 political prisoners associated with the APPO in both state and maximum security federal prisons and dozens of disappeared APPO supporters.

Section 22 of the teachers’ union tried to claim credit for the releases, while also formally breaking with the APPO. Enrique Rueda, head of Section 22, said the APPO “believes that marches are going to resolve their problems, but they’ve had 15 days and they haven’t resolved anything.” The formal leadership of the teachers union, part of the CNTE, has long been at odds with the APPO, though more than a third of the local union membership continues to identify closely with the APPO.

The National Human Rights Commission (CNDH), a government agency, issued a preliminary report on December 18: “conditions in the state and, particularly, in the capitol city, continue in a situation of conflict, and conditions do not exist for the protection and observation of fundamental rights.” The CNDH reported “349 people arrested, 370 injured, and 20 deaths, of which 11 lost their lives in situations directly related to the conflict.” A full report with recommendations in expected in January. Amnesty International called on federal authorities to protect the physical integrity of human rights observers. An Amnesty report called particular attention to Yesica Sanchez from the Mexican League for Defense of Human Rights (Limeddh) and Aline Castellanos from Consortium for Parliamentary Dialogue and Equity, both of whom have arrest warrants pending in apparent retaliation for their human rights activities. The Interior Secretary encouraged APPO members to request temporary restraining orders to prevent further arrests, though this did not thwart the arrests of dozens of people currently in prison, including Flavio Sosa, who were carrying temporary restraining orders when taken into custody. The APPO and the Interior Secretary apparently reached a tentative agreement to prevent more arrests between Christmas and Three Kings day on January 6, though it is unlikely that Governor Ruiz will respect the understanding.

Demonstrations around the world condemned the lawlessness and impunity of the Ruiz administration, and called for his immediate removal.
interview with Dionisio Martínez who was recently released from prison in Oaxaca:


The media's job is to interest the public in the public interest. -John Dewey