Massive March in Oaxaca

Today the Oaxaca People’s Popular Assembly (APPO) offered its response to Gov. Ulises Ruiz’s claim that the conflict in Oaxaca is limited to “one avenue in the capital.”

They filled over 3 miles of federal highway 190 with hundreds of thousands of protesters all shouting for the governor’s ouster.

“This shows the people’s unity,” said one marcher who declined to give her name.

At 10 AM, members of the APPO and supporters from across the state and the country began to gather at the monument to Benito Juarez about 4 miles outside of Oaxaca’s historic center.

The day before a caravan of nearly 100 cars, trucks and buses left from Mexico City to join the march. It took them over twelve hours to reach Oaxaca City—twice the normal travel time—do to military roadblocks set up to intercept them along the way. The caravan also had trouble getting gas as most stations had been ordered not to serve them.

Early in the morning, in anticipation of the march’s arrival, the Federal Preventive Police (PFP) closed off all entrances to the Zocalo with six-foot-high barricades made of razor wire. They also stationed special operations officers on the roofs of surrounding buildings and doubled the ranks of riot police guarding the barricades.

The march seemed relatively small, around 4 thousand people, before leaving from the Juarez monument, but quickly expanded as people began to walk and found thousands more supporters waiting for them along the road.

Only 30 minutes into the march it was impossible to see the end from pedestrian bridges that cross over the highway.

Throughout the entire length of the march, hundreds of people from surrounding neighborhoods gathered to applaud, offer marchers water and oranges, and then file in behind.

There were relatively few puppets, signs, and banners, mostly just everyday folks walking under the clouds, chanting slogans against the governor.

Tensions rose briefly as the marchers entered the historic center, passing within two blocks of the reinforced police barricades. The cars leading the march turned up Porfirio Diaz but several marchers shouted to continue straight, towards the Zocalo. APPO organizers quickly linked arms forming a human wall to shut off the street and guide the march up toward Santo Domingo Cathedral.

As the marchers poured into the plaza in front of Santo Domingo, a few hundred people walked down to the Zocalo to shout at the police, but once again APPO organizers linked arms in front of the razor wire and urged the other protesters to avoid confrontations.

“We want to show that our struggle is peaceful and just,” said a middle-age teacher from Tlaxiaco who declined to give her name. “Ulises Ruiz is the one who sends people out to kill. How is it possible that he is able to hire killers and stay in office?”

When asked about Thursday’s battle outside the state university, she responded that the students: “did not attack; they defended themselves from an attack in an unequal battle because those wretched police are armed to the teeth. If they start to attack, well people have to defend themselves as best they can.”

ATTACK AGAINST RADIO

For the second day in a row, shortly before 7 AM, armed gunmen again opened fire on the university radio station, this time wounding one student, 22 year-old Marcos Sanchez Martinez. He was in critical condition at a local public hospital this morning.