October 31, 2006 [LINK / comment]

Oaxaca is burning

Hopes that the arrival of los Federales in the provincial capital of Oaxaca would quell the violence there turned out to be premature. Even though the teachers have ended their strike, which is what started the whole mess five months ago, protesters have dug in their heels, preparing for a pitched battle with authorities. This erases any doubt that they want the confrontation to escalate. The entire city is under siege and basically closed down, with charred remains of buses and debris filling the streets. The police control the zone around the central plaza, while the protesters control much of the rest, including the university radio station, from which they are broadcasting revolutionary propaganda. I was stunned to realize that the photo of the "fiery barricade" in today's Washington Post was taken from the exact same spot where I took this photo in February 2003:

Oaxaca street

That photo came from the Mexico, 2003: Oaxaca & Tule photo gallery page. We observed protesters with communist insignia outside the main government building, but never imagined it would come to this.

Ironically, the American photo-journalist Brad Will who was shot last week worked for the left-wing Indymedia, which strongly supports the protesters. They claim this happened during "an armed, paramilitary assault on the Popular Assembly of the People of Oaxaca..." As reported at Pajamas Media by "Mark in Mexico," however, the APPO was responsible for the death of Will and others, it is armed, and it is not disposed to make peace. APPO leader Flavio Sosa "has a third grade education and is a convicted felon." (Hat tip to Barcepundit.) The death and destruction in the beautiful city of Oaxaca is an enormous, incomprehensible tragedy, and anyone who makes excuses for violent means to resolve domestic political disputes in democratic countries is a moral coward.