Monday, January 8, 2007

November 23, 2006: Protesters in southern Mexican state of Oaxaca briefly raid radio station to transmit message

Protesters calling for the resignation of the Oaxaca state governor briefly raided a radio station in the capital city on Wednesday to transmit a message rallying followers to a weekend march.

Members of the Oaxaca People's Assembly, or APPO, forced their way into the Ley 710 radio station and warned that if they were not allowed to broadcast their message, they would take over the station as they did earlier for nearly three months.

The group broadcast a call for supporters to join a Saturday rally at the main central plaza, or Zocalo, which was its base until federal police ousted the protesters last month. The police are still in control of the square.

"We want to show that the APPO has not died and that its demands remain intact," one of the members, who did not identify himself, said during the broadcast. "Our fight is peaceful and it won't end until (Gov.) Ulises Ruiz Ortiz falls."

Ley 710 is one of 10 private radio stations in Oaxaca, all of which were taken over by APPO in August. The group later abandoned the stations, but eight have not resumed broadcasts because APPO threatened to take them over again.

One of the stations that resumed broadcasts is controlled by a member of the leftist Democratic Revolution Party, which supports the protests.

APPO remains in control of the radio station at Oaxaca's Autonomous Benito Juarez University, which the protesters converted into their headquarters early this month after being driven from the Zocalo. The protesters also broadcast from a bootleg radio station.

A separate unlicensed station known as "Radio Ciudadania," or "Citizens' Radio," is broadcasting messages in favor of Ruiz.

On Tuesday, APPO announced that it would reactivate mobile brigades that in the past have symbolically closed government offices as part of their demand to oust Ruiz.

Wednesday marked the six-month anniversary of the conflict, which has cost Oaxaca state millions of dollars in business, including tourism, and 1.3 million children hundreds of hours of schooling. Teachers just recently returned to the classrooms after accepting a pay raise.

The conflict began as a teachers strike, but quickly mushroomed into a broad protest against centuries of social and economic injustices in the poor state.

Nine people have been killed in the clashes, including freelance video journalist Bradley Roland Will, 36, of New York, who was filming a group of leftist protesters that clashed with a group of armed men. Both sides fired. It is not clear who shot first.

On Wednesday, Amnesty International investigator Rupert Knox called for an independent autopsy on Will's body after the Oaxaca state attorney general said Will apparently was shot at point-blank range, indicating that the fatal shots came from nearby leftist protesters.

A spokesman for the protesters said officials were fabricating evidence to win the release of two local officials held in connection with the Oct. 27 killing.

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

Also Wednesday, two dozen APPO sympathizers marched in front of the U.S. Consulate in Acapulco in Guerrero state, which borders Oaxaca.

"If Ulises Ruiz doesn't leave, Calderon won't enter," they chanted, referring to President-elect Felipe Calderon, who takes office on Dec. 1.

The protesters include many supporters of leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who lost the July 2 presidential election to Calderon by less than 1 percentage point.

No comments: