Thursday, July 27, 2006

Oaxaca, Mexico: Striking teachers intensify blockades

After meeting with his district representatives yesterday, SNTE (the teachers union) leader Enrique Rueda Pacheco announced through his spokesman, Daniel Rosas Romero, at a news conference that the teachers and their other supporters would intensify their campaign to force the resignation of the state's governor. The union spokesman announced that permanenet blockades would be set up in front of the governor's interim offices, the federal court building (where the strikers ripped the bronze lettering off the facade), numerous satellite installations of the state court system in outlying towns and villages as well as highway blockades and takeovers of municipal government headquarters in various outlying towns and villages.

The spokesman also announced that the old state government palace, now a museum and located on the Zócalo, would be "reopened". That means that the strikers will bash down the doors and take possession of the building. Adios museum. They'll steal everything of value from it.

Other measures announced by the union spokesman included a petition, accompanied by "6000 union sympathizers", to be taken to the national senate in Mexico City demanding the ouster of the governor. Along with their own matching petition, the "popular assembly", or APPO, announced that it would set up a permanent tent city outside the national senate on the Zócalo in Mexico City. They'll have to be careful not to get trampeled by AMLO's supporters.

The teachers union has now formally announced that it will not take part in any negotiations to end the standoff unless and until Governor Ruiz Ortiz is gone. "This is the basic fundamental," said the spokesman. "This fight will end when Mr. Ulises Ruiz leaves."

I would imagine that negotiations are going hot and heavy between Ruiz Ortiz and the federal government over just how much it is going to cost Mexico City to buy him out. He has so far taken a hard line that he will not resign. Pressure must be building to remove him from office in any way possible. The easiest way to get him out is to buy him out. It would seem that the economy of the state of Oaxaca, such as it is, will be destroyed if he doesn't go. The authorities, both state and federal, must be loathe to try to remove the teachers by force, especially in view of the earlier failure on June 14.

The teachers union spokesman has even announced a formal name for this new round of anarchy, or civil disobedience, if you prefer; "Ofensiva del 26 de julio" (no translation needed there). He also announced that this new offensive has been dedicated to the memory of Fidel Castro's abortive attack on the army barracks at "Moncada en La Habana, Cuba." One teeny problem with that announcement: the attack on Moncada, in which Castro lost about 1/3 of his force and after which he was captured and imprisoned, took place some 500 miles southeast of Havana, in Santiago de Cuba. Obviously none of the teachers union hierarchy teach geography or history.

So, on we go. The once beautiful colonial downtown Oaxaca is a shambles, government buldings are blockaded, highways are blockaded, the tourist industry -- the only industry -- is shut down, the state has lost some $50 million in desperately needed income, and there is no end in sight.

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