Monday, January 8, 2007

November 21, 2006: Renewed clashes between protesters and police in southern Mexican state of Oaxaca

Masked protesters armed with sticks, rocks, fireworks and homemade gasoline bombs clashed briefly with federal police and raided a downtown hotel Monday as violence continued after more than five months of demonstrations seeking the governor's resignation.

The protesters led a march for Monday's Mexican Revolution holiday to the city's main central plaza, the Zocalo, which police took over in late October in an attempt to end the protesters' siege of the city. As they passed, the demonstrators began using their weapons against police, who fired back with tear gas and pepper spray, eventually dispersing them.

The demonstrators were seen taking vehicles away from motorists driving through the center at the time, including a passenger bus, which they later set on fire. They also raided the Camino Real hotel, breaking the windows of the upscale establishment and spraying its walls with graffiti.

The hotel closed its doors shortly thereafter and did not release any information about its guest list. It was the second time since the protests began in late May that protesters have attacked the hotel.

In late September, about 300 demonstrators armed with machetes, knives and pipes descended on the hotel searching for Gov. Ulises Ruiz, whom they accuse of rigging the 2004 election to win office and violently repressing dissent.

Protest leader Cesar Mateos said police detained some of the demonstrators, but couldn't say how many. Police did not release any information on detentions.

In Mexico's southernmost state of Chiapas on Monday, thousands of Indian sympathizers of the Zapatista rebels blocked highways throughout the state in support of the Oaxacan protesters.

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