Sunday, October 29, 2006

Oaxaca, Mexico: Federales seal off city, moving in meter-by-meter

Lots of trouble with Blogger. I can't publish anything. Please have patience.

Federal forces arrived in, uh, force yesterday and throughout the night. It is an impressive operation, so far, and has obviously been well planned. President Fox gave the order yesterday morning and, within hours, federal forces began arriving at the airport by jet and began approaching the city from the northwest and from the east by highway.

Both Federal Preventive Police (PFP) and military are involved. Reports are that at least 1500 PFP officers are here along with 600 troops. They also landed a Hercules C-130 full of heavy equipment. (I received a photo of the C-130 but now I can't find it. Grrr!) It looks like their strategy is to present an organized effort by a massive force and intimidate the APPO insurrectionists into backing down. It's working, so far.

They are doing a really smart thing here. They have sealed off the city to prevent more rabid APPO reinforcements from arriving. Avenida Universidad, near my home, has also been shut down. I would assume that all major thoroughfares throughout the city have also been shut down. One of their principal targets is Juarez University and its hijacked radio station. The station is still broadcasting to APPO followers but I don't think it will be for much longer.

The federal forces are moving in from the airport, from Etla (Mexico-Oaxaca highway from the northwest) and from Tule (Oaxaca-Isthmus highway from the east). They are moving very slowly, meter by meter, to allow the APPO personnel time to think carefully about what is about to happen and to abandon their barricades. So far, so good. The APPO insurrectionists have abandoned their barricades in a wholesale manner. Reports are that, as the APPistas flee, neighborhood residents are flocking into the streets to tear down the barricades before the federales arrive on the scene. Cool!

Reports from downtown are that only about 10 people remain in the city's center. They have abandoned their encampment, leaving behind their tarpaulins, tents, sleeping and cooking gear. Downtown restaurants have begun reopening in anticipation of some hungry federales when they get there.

Back to Juarez University. I walked a brief distance towards the university at about 8:15 this morning and I could see that the more radical students had already hijacked an ADO bus (luxury tour bus) and had it parked across the boulevard. There was also some kind of a big semi truck and trailer rig parked diagonally across the street. They won't be there long.

APPO radio is asking the "citizens of Oaxaca to come out into the streets to protest the federal repression." The response has been less than overwhelming. APPO has also called for a "massive march" for 4:00 this afternoon to protest "the repression of out human rights". It looks like they'll be lucky to get 50 people to participate in that one.

Two months ago, maybe even one month ago, APPO might have been able to generate more activism. However, after 5 long months of murders, rapes, robberies, kidnappings, no school for 1.3 million kids and a complete disruption of everyday life as well as economic losses suffered by the citizens amounting to more than a billion dollars, most everyone just wants this to end.

And, in a no small aside, Governor Ulises Ruiz Ortiz is still in office. Or, as La Crónica put it so succinctly yesterday, "He's glued to his chair."

It should be over soon. Let the cleanup begin.

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