Monday, January 8, 2007

November 16, 2006: Oaxaca governor avoids giving live address after protesters threaten interruption

The governor of Mexico's conflict-ridden southern Oaxaca state sent a deputy Wednesday to hand-deliver his annual progress report to lawmakers after protesters said they would interrupt the governor's address if he gave it in person.

Instead of personally delivering a customary live speech at the state legislature, Gov. Ulises Ruiz sent state Interior Secretary Heliodoro Diaz to deliver the written report, state government spokeswoman Luz Divina Zarate said.

A taped message from the governor summarizing his past year in office was broadcast later Wednesday on television and radio stations.

Protests demanding the resignation of Ruiz, whose term ends in 2010, have roiled the city for five months and protest leader Florentino Lopez had said demonstrators would disrupt Ruiz's address if he tried to deliver it in person.

Protesters accuse Ruiz of rigging the 2004 election to win office and of using violence against his opponents. Last month, President Vicente Fox sent more than 4,000 federal police to quell the unrest. The protests have led to at least nine deaths, mostly of leftists who have been shot dead by gangs of gunmen.

On Tuesday, the state's attorney general released a report saying an American activist-journalist who was killed while filming a gunbattle during recent demonstrations was shot at point-blank range, indicating the fatal shots came from nearby leftist protesters.

Lopez said Tuesday that officials were fabricating evidence to win the release of two local officials held in connection with the Oct. 27 killing of Bradley Roland Will, 36, of New York.

Will, 36, was filming a group of leftist protesters who clashed with a group of armed men in Santa Lucia, a working-class town on the outskirts of Oaxaca city. Both sides fired. It is not clear who shot first.

Will was shot twice in the abdomen and died on the way to hospital.

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