Mexico: Repression in Oaxaca intensifies

FRFI 195 February / March 2007

Intense repression against the people of Oaxaca unleashed five days before the inauguration of Felipe Calderon as president of Mexico on 30 November has led to a temporary set-back for the mass movement organised by APPO, the Popular Assembly of the People of Oaxaca. More than 200 activists were arrested and transported to distant prisons where they were subjected to beatings and other forms of torture. Dozens of others have been murdered. With the livelihood of millions of peasants threatened by subsidised corn imported from the US and three quarters of the population living in poverty, the new president wants to show the working class and oppressed of Mexico that resistance to his neo-liberal programme will be crushed without mercy.

The first attempt to crush APPO’s resistance at the end of October ended in failure as the risen people beat back a combined assault from marines and federal police. APPO has been demanding the resignation of Oaxacan state governor Ulises Ruis since the summer because of his brutality and corruption. During the first 15 months of Ruis’s administration 29 activists were assassinated. From June to October 2006 at least 18 were assassinated. In November the repression intensified, and over the two months to the end of December, 24 were assassinated (APPO statement, 30 December 2006). On 12 January, teacher Enriqueta Santiago was seized by paramilitaries and was later found dead, shot six times. The result is that for the moment APPO is in retreat, although it has called a ‘mega-march’ for 3 February.

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