Thursday, October 12, 2006

Oaxaca, Mexico: Marching backwards -- doubletime


"Una marcha atrás" is what they call it here. Since the "negotiated agreement" between the Secretary of the Interior, Carlos Abascal, and the forces of APPO/SNTE -- unconditional surrender is what we call it there -- things have gone steadily downhill. Abascal's definition of "negotiated agreement" must have been drawn from a Vichy French dictionary published cerca 1940.

First, Governor Ruiz announced that he would not take part in a big meeting scheduled for today where a group of 125 politicians, businesspersons, social and community activists were to present their proposals for the return of peace and tranquility to Oaxaca. Governor Ruiz was angry at Secretary Abascal for "superceding" his authority in negotiating the surrender to APPO/SNTE.

Then, Abascal announced that he and the governor do, in fact, see eye-to-eye and are coordinating their efforts and communicating regularly. I think that is diplomatic-speak for "We have agreed to disagree on virtually everything and we call one another frequently to exchange epithets and curses."

Next, a tripartite Senate committee was to visit here yesterday to review the situation and report back to the Senate. APPO immediately took to the streets, or rather, took more streets in an effort to impress upon the Senators the "ungovernability" of the state. I might interject here that "ungovernability" is one of the conditions under which the national Senate could remove a state governor from office.

APPO has now extended their street blockades around the city's center to 4 blocks out on every side. They now have more territory under their control than at any other point during this 4 month-long nightmare. Abascal's "peace treaty" has already blown up in his face --or better -- in our faces. He's still in Mexico City.

57 government employees went to work yesterday in the offices of the Secretaría de Protección Ciudadana (Civil Defense, more or less). They were soon followed by an APPO mob. After being trapped inside the building for 4 hours, they began to be escorted out in small groups by armed policemen. The first group out cleared the way with gunfire. There were 2 or 3 members of the APPO mob wounded. One of the wounded, an Iván Rojas, reported, hilariously, "We knocked on the door and they opened it and shot us." No sh*t, Sherlock. If someone "knocked" on my door and I knew that that someone had a several hundred-strong mob behind him armed with clubs, pipes, machetes, knives and possibly guns, I might be disposed to come out a'shootin', too, podner.

The APPO mob was part of a much larger mob that invaded Colonia Reforma and shut down some 17 government buildings. At the state Health Services Infrstructure building, a very brave female secretary who works in the building challenged the mob right to their faces. "We only want to go to work and by working we'll accomplish things and move this state forward. That should be what you want, also." A slightly more timid coworker standing behind her whispered, "Shut up, already." The infuriated girl replied, "Why should I shut up? It's the truth."

APPO claims that the governor ordered the people to go to work to try to demonstrate the "governability" of the state. APPO says its mob responded to demonstrate the ungovernability of the state. The Senators decided to stay home demonstrating untravelability. It is being reported that the 3 Senators have now arrived this morning, during the wee hours, one if by land and 2 if by air, demonstrating sneak-in-under-cover-of-darknessability.

The big meeting that Governor Ruiz refused to attend was also canceled for at least two weeks.

All day yesterday, directly in front of the Mexican Army post here (you drive right past it on your way to Tule, Mitla and the isthmus), APPO thugs were stopping cars on Calzada de Los Niños Heroes de Chapultepec (the Tule highway) and painting them with white shoe polish. "Ulises Out!", Ulises Is A Rat" and "Die Ulises, You Rat" were the watchwords of the day. One would do well not to object too strenuously when subjected to such treatment. That is, unless one has a lot of seriously missplaced confidence in a Mexican insurance company's willingness to pay for the damage about to be inflicted on one's car.

There was another set of traffic signals out of order this morning at yet another busy intersection near Niños Heroes. The ones that were out of service yesterday are still not working today. There were no traffic cops at any of the intersections at and around Reforma and Niños Heroes. I got through OK at 7:30 but I imagine that by 8:30 it was a real nightmare.

The gates of Juarez University were closed again this morning with a couple of thousand students stranded in front in the boulevard. If this goes like it did the last time, just two weeks ago, University Boulevard will soon be blockaded with hijacked buses. I would suppose that the university professors' union failed to show up today in solidarity with their APPO/SNTE brothers and sisters.
UPDATE: El Universal reports that 30 students entered the university early this morning, took over the administration building, and declared the university closed for the day. This was done to demonstrate the ungovernability of the state. I think it points more to the incompetancy of university officials who will apparently cede control of the university and its 30,000 students to whomever arrives earliest in the morning.
A contingent of APPO spokespersons met with a select Senate committee yesterday in Mexico City to demand the ouster of Governnor Ruiz Ortiz. The PRI and PAN representatives both said they would need to study the documentation presented by APPO. The PRD representative (an AMLO follower) took the documents and immediately declared that the PRD was in favor of removing the governor from office. The PRD Senator apparently was able to review and pronounce judgement on the evidence through a very rapid osmosis process.

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