Sunday, December 03, 2006

Radio Universidad Falls Silent, Brad Will's Killer's go Free, and Calderón Inaugurates His Presidency

Today, December 1, Felipe Calderón Hinojosa, of the National Action Party (Partido Acción Nacional, or PAN for its Spanish initials) takes power as President of the United States of Mexico after an election victory that many see as fraudulent.  

The San Lazaro legislative Palace, the home of the Mexican national congress, had become a strange sort of battle ground as legislators of the PAN and of the center-left Party of Democratic Revolution (Partido de la Revolución Democrática) physically fought to control the podium.  Expecting a coordinated action designed to prevent the inauguration of Calderon in San Lazaro, as the PRD had done to prevent President Fox from giving his state of the union address (informe) in September, the PAN delegation pre-emptively seized the stage November 28th.  Fighting off PRD delegates, the PAN legislators even sleeped on the floor of congress in order to hold the stage and allow Calderon to be sworn in.

Calderon was indeed sworn in today.  A private ceremony was held, without prior announcement at midnight in the Presidential Palace.  This unprecendented secretive nighttime inauguration was followed this morning at 9:48 in San Lazaro, as reported by La Jornada.  In both cases, President Vicente Fox turned over power to Felipe Calderon, but not before new physical altercations between PAN and PRD legislators, as well as catcalls and chants desinged to interrupt the ceremony.  In any case, Felipe Calderon is now the official president of Mexico.

Radio Universidad Falls Silent

All of this noise in Mexico City drowned out the important news coming out of Oaxaca.  In addition to the "toma de protesta" (inauguration) of Calderon and the return of The Other Campaign to Mexico City, December 1 was supposed to be a key moment in the popular uprising in the southern state of Oaxaca.

For months a common rallying cry of the Oaxacan people was "si Ulises no se va, Calderón caerá," (If Gov. Ulises doesn't go, Calderon will fall") connecting the demand that the repudiated Oaxacan governor resigned with a threat to nationalize the state's uprising against the (perhaps fraudulently) elected president.

Nevertheless, this past week has seen a de-escalation of the Oaxacan peoples' movement.  Last weekend, state and federal police (as well as vigilantes) attacked a protest of the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca as they surrounded a Federal Preventative Police (PFP) encampment in the Oaxacan city center for a "48 hour nonviolent seige" of the PFP.  The attack triggered a five hour battle and city-wide riot.  Some 160 people were arrested, many of them randomly from the site of the police attack.  Others were "disappeared," though initial reports of dead protesters have not been confirmed.  For days after the attack, protesters remained hidden in homes and offices, afraid to walk through the streets to return to their own homes and families.  Fourteen such people were hiding out in the office of Nueva Izquierda when it was shot up and burned to the ground.  Thirteen managed to escape, and one is considered "disappeared."  I wrote about this several days ago, detailing as much as possible.  Since then many other important stories have come out.

John Gibler writes about a human rights observer from Mexico City who was arrested randomly, and has had ample opportunity to observe human rights abuses in police custody.  Luis Hernandez Navarro suggested that this attack marked "the end of tolerance" for the protest, and connected the violent repression with the inauguration of Calderon.

Furthermore, this attack at the rank and file of the protest, instead of against its leadership, seems to have severely weakened the APPO.  The attack of a peaceful march, the arrest of so many people, their transfer to far away states where family cannot see them, and the torture employed by the captors seems to have been the first serious blow to the movement's motivation.

On October 29, Radio Universidad fell silent. The administrators of the radio broadcasting station turned it over to the university where it is located. The decision was made after the barricade of Cinco Señores, at the doorstep of the Benito Juarez Autonomous University of Oaxaca, was left unguarded.  Federal and state police were able to simply drive up and dismantle the same barricade where, at the beginning of November, an attempt to do the same caused an epic six hour battle in which two armored police trucks were torched, and the PFP eventually retreated.

After the fall of the last barricade around the university, the the administrator's of the radio station, also called Radio Planton and Radio APPO, decided to turn it over to university officials so that federal police would not invade the campus as they had been threatening to do.  The defense of this station had been the primary goal of the Oaxacan resistance ever since the PFP entered Oaxaca on October 27th.  International listerners can still hear Radio APPO's silence over the internet.

Flavio Sosa, member of Nueva Izquierda and a leader of the APPO, says that the government is trying to crush the movment with a "dirty war."  Sosa's brother is currently being held by the PFP.  It remains to be seen if this is a strategic retreat on the side of the Oaxacan protesters, but it makes them look week.  Radio Universidad made calls for reinforcements over the air, when people did not show up ready to defend the station, as they had previously, they decided to avoid a fight they could not win.  Felipe Calderon is promising to dialogue with any one who is interested in dialogue (which APPO have repeatedly called for since the uprising began this summer).   With foreign media largely ignoring it, the left wing of the Mexican media relegating it from the front page, and Radio Universidad falling silent- will any body ear Calderón's iron fist fall on Oaxaca?

Amy Goodman on Democracy Now, as always, has information on Calderon's inauguration and the situation in Oaxaca.  John Gibler: the unprecendented private inauguration ceremony "a sign of the weakness of this presidency."

Government Murders Bradley Will with Impunity

While some 160 Oaxacan protesters were arrested without warrents or even charges, news comes that the two murderers of New York Indymedia videographer who had been arrested have been released.  The killers, cheif of security for Santa Lucía del Camino ("regidor" also called a city council member by some media), Abel Santiago Zárate, and Orlando Manuel Aguilar Coello, an official under his command with the Municipal police, were caught on film and publicly identified by newspapers such as El Milenio and El Universal.  They were not sought by authorities for a week, until pressure from news reports made their arrests unavoidable.  The same authorities responsible for murder and torture of protesters in support of Gov. Ulises Ruiz seem to be allowing two of their own to kill with impunity.  WIll anyone notice?


Simon Fitzgerald recently returned from Mexico where he reported on The Other Campaign and translated Spanish-language articles into English for Narconews. He also runs the web log La Luchita.

1 comment :

brownfemipower said...

this is really just horrible news to read...