Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Oaxaca, Mexico update: Shots fired this morning

I heard gunshots fired this morning at about 6:00 AM. I have not heard any reports about the incident. And, please, before anyone sends a comment concerning fireworks, I know the difference between gunshots and fuegos artificiales. The shots sounded like they came from the area of the university but I cannot be sure.

Here is a nice Flash presentation from Reforma using aerial or satellite photos. It shows some of the buildings that have been taken by APPO and the striking teachers. The address is:

I have an account with Reforma which is how I accessed this. You should be able to access it free. I could test it but I would have to delete my cookie files and I don't want to do that today. If you look at the link you will see the word "libre" right after "" which indicates free access, I hope.

The map is somewhat self-explanatory, although it took me a few seconds to figure out how to switch pages. At the bottom you will see the numbers 1 thru 7. Click on a number to change views. For reference, in the bottom left-hand corner of each page is a shot of most of the city. In quadrants 1,2,6 and 10 you see an open area. That's the Cerro del Fortin that you drive around when you enter the city from the northwest (Mexico City - Puebla). Another good reference is in view 7, where in the lower right-hand corner of the photo you see the baseball stadium. The east-west street adjacent to the north side of the stadium is Calzada de Los Niños Héroes de Chapultepec. Historical note #1: The boy heroes of Chapultepec never existed -- it's a myth, but that's a story for another day. The north-south street adjacent to the east side of the stadium is Eduardo Vasconcelos on the south side of Niños Héroes and Heróica Escuela Militar to the north. Historical note #2: The military school is where the mythical niños héroes came from, but again, that's another story.

A gang of APPO thugs broke into the State Congress, smashing windows, glass doors, ripping up furniture, breaking into offices of the comgressmen and hauling off computers, files, furniture, phones and whatever. Interestingly, they broke into and damaged several offices of PRD congresemen; equal opportunity vandals, I guess. And, of course, the obligatory bus burning took place outside.

Yesterday was the state-wide work stoppage. Many businesses ignored the strike, many others opened but kept curtains closed, and many remained shuttered throughout the day. The big commercial area that stretches from Plaza Oaxaca to southeast of Plaza del Valle closed up tight at about 5:00 PM. I mean it was like a ghost town.

Many newspapers reported that the the city bus drivers participated in the work stoppage. Not willingly, I assure you. The bus companies pulled all of their buses off the streets Monday afternoon and kept them off all day yesterday. The folks in Oaxaca City handled this in an interesting way. Intra-city buses that normally operate outside the city and are not allowed to operate inside came flooding in. Private car owners, especially those with pickup trucks, pasted route signs on their vehicles and began hauling people around. The usual bus fare is 3.5 pesos. Thr private vehicle owners were charging from 3.5 to 10 pesos and would follow the normal bus routes. Some even would deliver passengers all the way to their destinations, no extra charge.

The taxi drivers have all increased their charges 10-25%. They tried to work yesterday also but had to stop at street blockades and submit to some custom paint jobs. The most frequent lettering seen on the taxis was "Fuera URO" which means "Ulises (the governor) get out." I'm not sure it ever dawned on the APPO thugs how many private vehicles were hauling people around. If it had, they probably would have tried to permanently block more streets.

The good news is; nobody got shot yesterday. I don't yet know about this morning.

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