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Origins of the Conflict in Oaxaca

What's it all about?


The conflict in Oaxaca began on May 22nd, 2006 as a routine teachers strike, an annual event in which teachers camp out 24/7 in the town square and surrounding streets. The teachers' demands included a pay raise, educational reforms and better conditions for students. The strike dragged on longer than usual. Most years it lasts a couple of weeks, a few of the teachers' demands are met and they return to classes. This year, it didn't work out that way.

On June 14th, 2006 Oaxaca's governor, Ulises Ruiz Ortiz, sent in riot police with tear gas at 4 am to clear out the strikers from the city center. Many of those on strike were women teachers accompanied by their children and they were not warned that the police were coming in. Many teachers were injured. The police intervention was not successful in removing the strikers, who regrouped and showed an even stronger presence than they had before.

Formation of the "APPO"

Other social groups then joined in with the teachers in calling for the resignation of the governor, accusing him of election fraud and corruption. Several marches took place in which thousands of people turned out to support the movement. The APPO (the Popular Assembly of the People of Oaxaca) was formed, calling for the governor's removal from office and some fundamental changes in the way government is run. The APPO maintained a presence in the Zocalo (the town square), blocked entrances to government buildings and put up road blocks and barricades at night to guard against another attack.

On October 27th, 2006 Brad Will, a NYC Indymedia reporter was shot and killed at an APPO barricade. Two days later federal police forces entered Oaxaca using high-pressure water spray and tear gas to disperse protesters who were opposed to their presence in Oaxaca. For most of the month of November APPO and PFP (Federal Police) were both present in the Oaxaca city center.

On November 25th there was a large demonstration demanding the exit of the police forces and the removal of the governor from office. Violence broke out between protesters and the police. Some buildings in the town center were burned. The police made massive arrests. Over 150 people were detained and many were sent to prisons in the north of the country. On December 4th Flavio Sosa, one of the APPO leaders was arrested in Mexico City.

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