Sunday, July 23, 2006

Oaxaca, Mexico: Show me the bullets - UPDATE: Teachers declare war!

I just got a call from a very highly placed state government official who tells me that the teachers are claiming that they suffered casualties in the alleged attack on their radio station tonight. The teachers claim that there are several people dead and more wounded. These claims are being broadcast over Radio Universidad, 1400 AM.

What makes these broadcasts weird is that the teachers initially claimed that there were no casualties but the station had suffered damage which knocked it off the air. But they are still broadcasting. They also originally claimed they were attacked by "50 armed paramilitary commandos". They now say that those commandos arrived in two SUV's. I have difficulty picturing any SUV that could hold 25 or more heavily armed men - or boys for that matter.

Regardless of the dubious nature of the teachers' allegations, they are announcing that they have declared war on the state of Oaxaca. My source says that what the teachers are really angry about is that they have discovered that Felipe Calderón, the apparent winner of the July 2 presidential election, is vacationing with his family in Huatulco. My source further states that the teachers charge that the state governor, Ulises Ruiz Ortiz, has gone to Huatulco to meet with Calderón. If you are unfamiliar with this area, Huatulco is Oaxaca state's premier Pacific coast resort city.

So, while the teachers are getting soaked to the skin in torrential downpours as well as getting shot at here in Oaxaca City, the hated Governor Ruiz Ortiz is soaking up the sunshine at the beach with the country's probable new president. They charge that Ruiz Ortiz left the city in order to have an alibi when the armed attack against the radio station occurred. That is, if any armed attack occurred at all. The site of the alleged attack, Benito Juarez University, is just 10 minutes away. You'll have to excuse me if I don't make it over there tonight. My source suggests, in fact, he highly recommends that I stay off the streets.

If, in fact, Calderón is in Huatulco, that seems to me to have been an unwise choice in vacation spots. With all of the trouble throughout the state, I would have thought that Oaxaca would be very low on his list of getaways. In fact, he would have been better off in Beruit. This could get even nastier than it has already been.

The teachers are vowing to seal off the city, blocking the highways and closing the airport. I wish that this had not happened so late. I would send my family north but I don't dare do that this late and may not be able to tomorrow. I am blogging from my office because the heavy rains knocked out my internet connection at home. In order to return, I have to drive either right past the university or try to pass through the teachers' blockade of the city's center. I could try to go around the north and west sides of the city which means that I would have to pass through their blockade on the highway in front of the partially destroyed Guelaguetza Amphitheater. Looks like I'm sleeping in the office tonight.

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