This Week in the Americas

Oaxaca Fights Back
By Laura Carlsen

The Oaxacan protest movement burns slow, but deep. Oaxacan teachers, who mobilized for a pay raise last May, consciously built on years of protest against social inequality in their state. On June 14, the state government attempted to evict protesting teachers from Oaxaca’s central plaza. Oaxacans responded by forming the broad-based Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO). The federal government confronted the growing movement on October 28 when it sent thousands of federal police to occupy the city. The murders, wounding, and disappearance of the protestors have only deepened the resolve of the movement as a whole.

On November 5, the movement mobilized tens of thousands of people in a march through Oaxaca. In the pre-dawn hours of November 6, bombs exploded in the offices of the electoral tribunal, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), and an international bank. No one was killed or injured, but the tension rose several notches. The APPO immediately condemned the bombings and repeated that it has no relations with guerrilla groups. It has continued to try to negotiate a peaceful settlement of its demands. In the turbid political atmosphere following Mexico’s presidential elections on July 2, Oaxaca’s conflict has now catalyzed a series of events that threaten Mexico’s stability.

Laura Carlsen is director of the IRC Americas Program at in Mexico City, where she has been a writer and political analyst for more than two decades.

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