Oaxaca Subdued, But Not for Long Mexican government forces have cleared striking teachers out of the colonial city of Oaxaca, where protesters are planning new marches. Federal forces stormed Oaxaca over the weekend, ending a five-month occupation. But leftist supporters roamed the streets with sticks and gasoline bombs.
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Oaxaca Subdued, But Not for Long

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Oaxaca Subdued, But Not for Long

Oaxaca Subdued, But Not for Long

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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.


And I'm Robert Siegel.

There were new protests today in the Mexican city of Oaxaca, where thousands of people have again taken to the streets. They're angry about yesterday's violent clashes between federal police and striking teachers and their supporters. The teachers and other protestors had occupied streets and buildings in Oaxaca for months. The federalis moved in after paramilitary forces allegedly allied with the local police killed an American activist/journalist and two others on Friday.

NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro reports from Oaxaca.

(Soundbite of construction)

LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO: After yesterday's bitter fighting, it was calm in Oaxaca early this morning. The federal police who moved into the zocalo, or central square, overnight were removing the wrecks of burned buses and twisted metal barricades from the streets.

(Soundbite of heavy machinery)

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Otherwise, though, the colonial heart of Oaxaca city was still mostly shuttered with the expectation that there would be further trouble.

(Soundbite of helicopter)

GARCIA-NAVARRO: As indeed, a few miles away in the commercial area of the city, the federal police were deploying, backed by helicopters. While they are not fully in control of Oaxaca yet, the large operation is spreading itself out. Dozens of riot police marched across a busy intersection, blast shields at the ready.

The conflict in Oaxaca began with a peaceful teachers' strike to ask for more money. After the governor tried to violently remove them, it evolved into a broad movement re-branded at the Oaxaca People's Popular Assembly, or APPO. They have had control of Oaxaca for months, holding the city through a web of barricades. Police were chased out and vigilante justice was applied, often harshly.

They have been demanding the ouster of the governor, Ulises Ruiz. At least eight people, mostly activists, have been killed so far by shadowy paramilitary groups allegedly allied to Ruiz. On Friday, three people were shot dead, including an American journalist, prompting the federal troop deployment.

(Soundbite of mob)

GARCIA-NAVARRO: The APPO says it's not giving up and called a march today.

It's early afternoon and the briefly quiet streets of Oaxaca have once again erupted in protest. Thousands of supporters of the APPO have taken to the streets again. They're shouting get out PFP, which is the preventive federal police that has taken over the zocalo, the central square, in Oaxaca city. They're carrying placards, they are carrying banners, and they are saying that the fight will continue as long as it takes.

(Soundbite of crowd of people)

Ms. CAROL RODRIGUEZ: (Through translator) This fight is by the people. If we thought we had lost, we wouldn't be marching today.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Carol Rodriguez is a housewife who was at the march.

Ms. RODRIGUEZ: (Through translator) This is a fight against injustice and marginalization. Where I live, there is no running water, no sewage system, and just a few steps from the city. It's wrong.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: As for the governor of Oaxaca, this morning saw him speaking with Mexican broadcaster Televisa, declaring he would not renounce his post.

Governor ULISES RUIZ (Oaxaca, Mexico): (Through translator) That's not even under discussion. As I've said on many occasions, that is not the way out. The way out is through discussion. I think we can find a way to end this conflict and establish a new social relationship.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Ruiz is considered by many here as one of the most corrupt politicians in Mexico, an old-style authoritarian leader who won power in a suspect election.

(Soundbite of crowd of people)

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Earlier this morning, a small group of 25 residents chanted their thanks in front of the federal police for entering the city. They are ready for the turmoil to end, they say. They cheered APPO has fallen over and over. Gabriella Lopez is a young student.

Ms. GABRIELLA LOPEZ: (Through translator) We've suffered a lot at the hands of these protestors. It's been chaos.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: There is no doubt the people are divided here, and so far, this colonial city nestled in the southern mountains is not pacified.

Lourdes Garcia-Navarro, NPR News, Oaxaca.

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