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Government Attacks APPO Political Table and Vendors

Another Confrontation Disrupts Oaxaca City

By Nancy Davies
Commentary from Oaxaca

Narco News

Once again the government municipal inspectors accosted a group of APPO vendors in the zócalo. The APPO set up a table to collect political signatures in condemnation of the government and Ulises Ruiz Ortiz for violence against the population during the 2006 uprising. Affiliated vendors use the APPO presence as a legal shelter for selling their products, since the city government has banned ambulant vendors from the area. This ban, ironically, is supposed to protect tourists — horrified witnesses to another confrontation — and commercial shop-owners and workers. By chance, members of the political opposition played a role in defying the police.

The officials, whom in the past I personally have witnessed taking cash from zócalo vendors, accosted these vendors, not to rob them, but to evict them, in line with the current policy. At the same time, they took advantage of the moment to throw over the table for signatures and petitions denouncing the governor.

The eviction took place before noon in a warm, sunny zócalo populated by Friday strollers and shoppers. According to Noticias reporter Luis Ignacio Velasquez, PRI officials exhorted state and municipal police to attack about twenty vendors, and destroy the political table with collected papers and signatures denouncing the governor. APPO shelters under legal protection, as do all citizens, to conduct peaceful signature gathering. The signatures they gather demand political justice against Ulises Ruiz, whom the Supreme Court declared guilty of human rights violations during 2006, but the court’s judgment includes no criminal procedures. Therefore it would take an act of the local Oaxaca congress to impugn Ruiz.

Meanwhile, at the APPO table and encampment, former political prisoner Marcelino Coache Verano maintains a hunger strike. At the scuffle he shouted, “I am not going to permit this new aggression against my companions, what you’re doing is illegal, you have no justification for taking their merchandise! They [the police] are trampling the goods that belong to that girl, they can’t do that!” An inspector grabbed him by the neck trying to strike him in the face, but was thwarted. Coache is a small man maybe five feet tall and weighing not much more than a hundred pounds. He was tortured in prison.

The chief of police Pedro Cruz tried to coordinate the rumpus, shouting at the cops, “You cover, you cover, you can’t be standing there doing nothing but watching, fuck them!”. To their credit, the police seemed reluctant. They formed a security belt to protect the municipal officials while the merchants and APPO sympathizers tried to recover their merchandise. Police shouted to both sides to stay calm, with small results, while a young woman on the ground cried, “That’s mine, that’s mine!” as she tried to retrieve her plastic bagful of merchandise which inspectors had grabbed.

“You killed our people. I know you, you’re one of the auxiliary [paramilitary] of Alejandro Barrita, you participated in the Caravan of Death,” Coache accused one of the state police, who according to the Noticias reporter began to shrink and turn away.

When the violence broke out, members from the Forum for Democratic Transition in Oaxaca and members of the State Democratic Convention Free Oaxaca happened to be talking with the state PRD man José Montero Garnica in one of the zócalo cafes. Along with him were players in the current political alliance: Francisco Martínez Neri, Luis Ugarteche Begné, Victor Raúl Martínez Vasquez, Faustino Díaz Montes and Pedro Sosa Gutiérrez, and others. They rushed to defend the abused vendors, taking the stage at the APPO encampment.

“We condemn the police brutality, it can’t be that a group of people who collect signatures in a peaceful manner in the zócalo of Oaxaca be treated this way, we condemn it and we call the commander [Pedro Cruz] to give back the things they are carried off; we cannot continue to consent to this type treatment of the people. No more violence in Oaxaca. Oaxaca will not be reconciled with a police presence,” Ugartechea affirmed at the microphones.

“Is seeking political judgment against Ulises Ruiz a crime, while national and international visitors witness it? That is the reply of the government, that’s how it works in Oaxaca, that’s how the municipal police act, they are the ones who have stolen power and keep punishing the citizens,” APPO sympathizer César Mateos declaimed in turn.

And then, spontaneously the crowds began to shout: “Assassins! Assassins! Assassins!” and “Eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, Ulises assassin your bill is coming due!” Something for those working on the political opposition coalition to take to heart, along with another example of the incredible arrogance of the PRI machine.

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