Sunday, June 22, 2008

APPO and PRIistas Clash in Zaachila, Oaxaca

by Eliza Ruiz Jaimes, translated by Kristin Bricker
Noticias Voz e Imagen de Oaxaca, June 21, 2008

Supporters of the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO in its Spanish initials) were hit with rocks thrown by a group of thugs hired by the municipal president of Zaachila, Noe Pérez Martínez, as well as municipal police, who used stones, firecrackers, and firearms.

With barricades, residents prevented the state governor, Ulises Ruiz Ortiz (URO), from entering the community, where he was supposed to tour.

The protesters accused Natalio Pérez Tomás--father of the current municipal president--of having fired a weapon: "He fired directly at the crowd, fortunately he didn't hurt anyone." The tension between the groups was brought under control after assistant Secretary of State Joaquín Rodríguez Palacios' appeal to the APPO to control itself.

The governor had to cancel the signing of the State-Municipal agreement and the start of public works in the municipality. Various people were wounded during the violence, including Asrael Torres Carmona, 71 years old, who believes that the repressive force is concentrated in the Party of the Institutional Revolution (PRI in its Spanish initials).

In agreement with Jorge Aragón Martínez, the assistant secretary admitted that the PRIista group was the one who initiated the confrontation. According to him no police force intervened in the clashes, despite the fact that on Thursday dozens of members of the Police Unit for Special Operations (UPOE in its Spanish initials) roamed the streets and installed metal fences in an attempt to impede the demonstrators' passage.

In response, the main roads into downtown Zaachila were closed with burning logs, tires, and rearranged metal fences, grabbed by residents and members of David "El Alebrije" Venegas' collective, who was present during the protest against the governor.

The governor's event was scheduled for 12:00pm yesterday, but it couldn't happen due to the protests of the residents with Zapoteca roots. They met in and around the Municipal Palace in order to keep Ruiz Ortiz from appearing in the community.

The APPO supporters said the government was overconfident because Jorge "El Chucky" Franco Vargas, the current leader of the PRI, arrived to put down the protest against the new municipal leader of the PRI, "but here we aren't going to let in any repressors."

The bandanas returned to cover the faces of protest. The stones returned to be defensive weapons together with firecrackers and chants against URO. The demonstrators warned that the fact that they "tolerate" the government that Pérez Martínez represents doesn't mean that they forgive Ruiz Ortiz's actions in their community. "The struggle continues."

The people who were wounded with cuts and scrapes after the violence in la Villa are considering bringing charges. The residents' assembly will determine the next steps and the stance against the ruler. According to the APPO, Pérez Martínez doesn't represent them: "we will go before the State Congress to request the removal of that repressor," they warned.
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