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(en) Mexico, Oaxaca, report of Thursday 2 November evening - Radio Universidad is still broadcasting, a miracle of people's resistance

Date Fri, 03 Nov 2006 20:37:10 +0200

Radio Universidad at 1400 am remains a strong voice at 1:30 pm, but how much longer
it will continue is unclear. As the only station still broadcasting for the Popular
Assembly movement of Oaxaca, it is a critically important link as well as a source of
the most current information on the struggle. It was brazenly emphasized on the early
Monday morning Televisa/Government version of ?the news? that the last powerful
transmitter aligned with the people?s movement was to be a high priority target of
the so-called Federal Preventive Police (PFP in its initials in Spanish). This
morning an army of troops dressed in PFP uniforms began the frontal assault on the
University enclave, called University City, where the station is located. This ?army?
indeed looks like a mass of mostly grunts, young guys in their late teens and early
twenties, most surely drafted by economic necessity into the military ranks.

The battle raged on University Avenue while I was there. Avenida Universidad
is a north-south four-lane road a little over a half-mile long that runs from
the Periferal highway junction at the north, the Cinco Senores intersection,
to the Plaza del Valley junction at the south. University City occupies a
roughly square block a little more than 1/4 mile on each side. This is the
main campus of the Benito Juarez Autonomous University of Oaxaca (UABJO in
its Spanish initials), located about 1.1 mile southeast of the Zócalo. This
area is supposedly ?autonomous? in the strict sense that the university
authorities have exclusive control over the area. Police, military,
federal authorities, state officials, and so on are in principle not
allowed to enter the grounds unless explicitly invited by the Rector
of the university. It is located on the east side of Avenida
Universidad, about a block or two south of the intersection.

This morning we heard that the PFP was going to invade Ciudad
Universidad on the grounds that there were reported to be firearms
there. That?s a typical pretext the police use. It?s easy enough
to get some corrupt state official or PRI-affiliated thug (PRI is
the Institutional Revolutionary Party, in its Spanish initials)
to file a denunciation that firearms or other illegal possessions
are in a particular location. Radio Universidad was calling for
citizens to come to protect the university, with a great sense of
urgency. A friend dropped me off a few blocks from the Cinco
Senores intersection, which was blocked on all sides by the PFP.
As usual, I was able to circle the blocked intersection on a few
side streets, and soon was ?inside? on Avenida Universidad in a
mass of people, most facing north towards the lines of shield-equipped
PFP troops.

Many in the dense crowd were busy photographing and videotaping the
then-still-peaceful confrontation, several of them perched atop a
burned-out VW-bug. Some people on a raised platform with a loudspeaker
were telling the troops that they were the same as the protestors and
shouldn?t have been sent to Oaxaca. The PFP lines stood inert, as
trained. Several older women in the crowd, right at the front, not
more than a foot or two from the plastic shields facing them,
forcefully told the troops right in front of them that they are
citizens, without arms, capable of running their own lives, and
the PFP should leave Oaxaca.

By about 11:30 I started south. After the first barricade, which
was north of university property, students were passing pieces of
split wood through the barred fence from the university grounds
to others on the street side with shopping carts. They use the
wood for fires at the barricades. Suddenly an alert spread that
an attack was imminent at the south end of Avenida Universidad,
and people streamed past me, leaving, I supposed, a smaller
crowd at the north intersection. The shopping carts barrelled
by, along with people with cameras, many folks adjusting their
bandanas getting ready for tear gas. Apparently the PFP, who had
been massed at the Plaza del Valle end of the road, began
advancing in a solid front, and the fireworks began. From the
distance I saw clouds of smoke and/or gas and the wobbly arched
paths of the home-made rockets launched towards the police,
which left a trace of white smoke as they streaked across the
space between the protestors and the PFP forces.

When one of the projectiles hit the ground and burst into flame
in front of the first line of troops a wave of adrenaline swept
the protestors, many of whom ran forward and hurled rocks at the
police. I?ve written a lot about the teachers and APPO maintaining
a militant but non-violent struggle, which I remain concvinced is
correct. But this was a different matter: this was people trying
to protect their own turf from being invaded by lethally-armed
forces, and there?s no way the attempted defense could be
described as non-violent. Had the police been ordered to shoot,
it could have been a massacre. All that can be said is that the
imbalance of power was incomparably in favor of the police; had
it been used, it would have been overwhelming.

Most of the defenders were younger men. But not all. Their major
weapon was a stream of rocks. I think that in addition to their
homemade incendiary rockets they may also have had some molotov
cocktails. As the police shot tear gas canisters and began a
slow step-by-step advance, I headed back a ways and entered the
university athletic fields, located on the west side of the
avenida behind a fence, and then came forward again, close to
but separated from the exchange. Not, however, separated from
the tear gas by the chain-link fence. People were taking large
rocks and smashing them against other rocks on the ground to
break them up into sizes suitable for hurling a considerable
distance. Their courage and determination not to yield to the
PFP was incredible. I?ve never before seen anything close to it.

Finally I decided to head back to make a report. Back on the
Avenida some distance from the front line, I saw an older man
picking up and ?bowling? rocks to be used in the defense along
the road towards the actual combatants. It brought back to mind,
?Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition? from the time of WWII.
I expected then that it would not be very long before the PFP got
into the Ciudad Universidad and captured and silenced Radio
Universidad. But I was wrong. Things were still at a standoff at
the north intersection, and I made my way out by the same roundabout
route I?d used earlier.

Walking north along the periferal highway I saw many people both
observing and putting up further barricades to block access to the
intersection at Cinco Senores. Ten or a dozen men shoved a big
heavy car from where it was parked to blockade the Periferico at
the corner of Rayon, and then they practically lifted a VW-Bug
that had been parked behind the first car and carried it around
the corner to block the entry of Rayon into the Periferico. I
thought about private property. There?s lots of destroyed property,
and weighing against it in their minds, I know, lots of destroyed
lives, which is why these valiant people are facing up to the
ruling power structure.

It?s 8:40 pm and Radio Universidad is still alive. Don?t know
what will happen later tonight or tomorrow. It appears that the
PFP were driven back. The Oaxaquenos really believe that Los
pueblos unidos, jamas sera vencidos (The people united will never
be defeated). I hope to hell they?re right.
--G.S. 8:45 pm Central Standard Time
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