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And now here's an update on a tourist destination that became a destination for thousands of Mexican federal troops last week. It's the southern state of Oaxaca. President Vicente Fox ordered the troops in after several protestors and an American were killed. These protests have gone on for about five months and they've paralyzed Oaxaca City. When the federal troops got to that city, they drove out anti-government protesters. But the Demonstrators retreated to a public university and they show no sign of backing down from their demands that the state's governor resign.

Michael O'Boyle reports from Oaxaca City.

(Soundbite of chanting in foreign language)

MICHAEL O'BOYLE: Some 20,000 demonstrators marched to the center of this mountain capital yesterday, demanding the resignation of Governor Ulises Ruiz. Carrying banners that called for the release of protesters that have been arrested, they chanted for the withdrawal of the federal police, who have occupied the city center. Twenty-nine year old Adriana Jimenez(ph), an out-of-work secretary, was a part of the groundswell of popular support. She says the resignation of Ruiz is the only way to end the conflict.

Ms. ADRIANA JIMENEZ (Oaxaca City): (Foreign language spoken)

O'BOYLE: This man has stolen a lot from the people, she says. He has killed striking teachers and other protesters, she says.

Many feared yesterday's march could turn violent, like a riot that erupted last Thursday when police approached the university that has become the protesters' last stronghold. But protest organizers formed human chains Sunday to prevent demonstrators from nearing the police lines.

(Soundbite of chanting in foreign language)

O'BOYLE: Across the divide, demonstrators chanted get out to the Federal Police, who were lined up around the city's central plaza behind rows of razor wire.

This protest movement began as a teachers' strike for higher pay last May, but after Ruiz sent state troops to violently crack down on the teachers, other organizations joined the movement now known as the Oaxaca People's Popular Assembly, or APPO. At least nine people have been killed so far during the conflict, most recently on October 29th, two protestors and an American activist filming the conflict were shot dead. Two local officials have been charged in the deaths, but demonstrators and human rights groups say more were involved. The APPO blamed previous deaths on paramilitary squads they say are loyal to the governor. Despite pressure from all sides, Ruiz is refusing to step down.

Mr. ULISES RUIZ (Governor, Oaxaca, Mexico): (foreign language spoken)

O'BOYLE: During a press conference last Friday, he said the APPO was a fringe group in the minority. I am committed to the Oaxacan people, he says. I am committed to the majority that elected me.

Ruiz narrowly won election in 2004 in a vote that his opponents say was rigged. Mexico has been hailed for its democratic advances in the past decade, but the conflict in Oaxaca reveals a local political system that is bursting at the seams. Human rights activist Andres del Campo(ph) has been aiding the family members of people detained by police. He says President Fox needs to get directly involved in negotiations.

Mr. ANDRES DEL CAMPO (Human Rights Activist): (Foreign language spoken)

O'BOYLE: If that doesn't happen, I doubt very much there will be an agreement, he says. What's more, I think both the government and the APPO could intensify their actions.

After more than five months of conflict, Oaxaca is deeply divided. Wealthier locals and people who work in the tourist industry - which has been decimated by the protest - think the APPO have gone too far. Distrust and paranoia seem to infect both extremes of the divide. President Fox sent in a deputy interior minister this weekend to spearhead new negotiations, but there is no easy solution to this conflict in sight.

For NPR News, I'm Michael O'Boyle.

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