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2006-11-27

Police Detain 160 Uprising Leaders in Oaxaca, Tens of Thousands Protest Governor Ruiz

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In the Mexican state of Oaxaca, the police have detained at least 160 members of APPO, the Popular Assembly of the Peoples’ of Oaxaca. On Saturday, tens of thousands of protesters marched in Oaxaca to call on the state’s governor, Ulises Ruiz., to resign. We go to Oaxaca to get a report.[includes rush transcript]

In the Mexican state of Oaxaca, the police have detained at least 160 members of APPO, the Popular Assembly of the Peoples’ of Oaxaca. On Saturday, tens of thousands of protesters marched in Oaxaca to call on the state’s governor Ulises Ruiz to resign. Dozens of people were injured after clashes broke out between the police and protesters. There were unconfirmed reports of several deaths as well.

  • John Gibler, independent journalist reporting from Oaxaca.

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: As we end our program in the Southern State of Mexico, Oaxaca. Late last night we got independent journalist John Gibler, in Oaxaca he filed this report.

JOHN GIBLER: Thousands of supporters of the Oaxaca People’s Popular Assembly or APPO for spanish initials, marched from the governor’s offices eight miles into Oaxaca City on Saturday. As they entered the city center, protesters formed a circle around the town square, which has been occupied by Federal Police since October 29th. The APPO called for a 48-hour "peaceful siege" of the Federal Police encampment, maintaining a full block of distance between the protesters and the police barricade. Within less than an hour however, police officers robbed a protester of a cooler filled with soda, and set off a series of confrontations, that would lead to a five hour battle ending in gun fire.

With hundreds of protesters and passersby wounded, and at least 150 imprisoned. Enraged by the police of having robbed one of their own in broad daylight, protesters hurled rocks and fired bottle-rockets through plastic tubes at the police, slowly advancing toward their barricade on Alcoa and Morello streets in Central Oaxaca City. As the APPO protesters drew close, the police fired heavy amounts of tear gas, forcing the retreat one block back, and fogging most of the city center with thick clouds of gas.

Protesters and federal police fought along Alcoa for some two hours before the police began to advance, firing more tear-gas and glass marbles through slingshots. By 8pm protesters had been forced out of the city center, many were captured and beaten along side streets by Federal police. Once forced out of the center, uniformed and plain clothed state police officers surrounded and captured dozens of protesters, brutally beating them with batons and firing teargas at close range. State and Federal police also opened fire with hand guns and assault rifles, wounding dozens. In unconfirmed reports, three people were shot and killed, and their bodies hauled off by police.

Throughout the night, plain clothed gunmen, like the paramilitaries who have killed with impunity for months in Oaxaca, entered hospitals throughout the city looking for wounded protesters. Witnesses said, the gunmen threatened hospital workers at gunpoint and removed several wounded people from hospitals. The Director of Hospital General, doctor Felipe Gama, acknowledged the gunmen entered his hospital and roamed the halls with pistols drawn, but he denied reports that they had removed patients.

Protesters in turn burned several government buildings and private businesses and broke windows throughout the city center. APPO spokespeople later denounced these acts, but defended the people’s right to act in self-defense, using makeshift weapons such as Molotov Cocktails, bottle rockets and slingshots.

On Sunday morning, State and Federal Police patrolled the city, controlling the Zócalo and Santo Domingo Cathedral, both sites of former protesting encampments. While dozens, perhaps even hundreds of protesters remained hidden in houses throughout the conflict area. The APPO has called to reestablish their protest camp at Santo Domingo on 8:00 a.m., Monday morning.

AMY GOODMAN: That was an independent reporter, John Gibler, reporting from Oaxaca, Mexico. That does it for our program.

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