APPO gives ultimatum to Oaxaca´s Ruiz
By Kelly Arthur Garrett/The Herald Mexico
Miércoles 25 de octubre de 2006
Miami Herald, página 1
Despite strategic differences with striking teachers and a rift in the teachers union itself, the Oaxaca People´s Assembly (APPO) pressed their threat Tuesday to step up its protest actions unless Gov. Ulises Ruiz resigns before Friday
Despite strategic differences with striking teachers and a rift in the teachers union itself, the Oaxaca People´s Assembly (APPO) pressed their threat Tuesday to step up its protest actions unless Gov. Ulises Ruiz resigns before Friday.
The APPO leadership announced the ultimatum late Monday night, promising to block highways across the state, maintain barricades throughout Oaxaca City and organize a boycott aimed at large commercial centers and transnational chains.
The APPO ultimatum received some political support Tuesday from the Democratic Revolution Party (PRD), the only major political party to back the Oaxaca protesters´ demand for Ruiz´s ouster.
"It strikes me as a good idea," said PRD Sen. Pablo Gómez. "If APPO doesn´t step up the pressure on this issue, it´s never going to be resolved."
The PRD, involved in its own protest campaign aimed at undermining the upcoming presidency of Felipe Calderón, seemed to go out of its way Tuesday to align itself with the APPO movement. Party spokesperson Gerardo Fernández Noroña called a news conference at Mexico City´s Benito Juárez monument, where some Oaxaca teachers and APPO members are in the second week of a hunger strike, to demonstrate his party´s "solidarity" with the Oaxaca movement.
"I´ve been on hunger strikes and it´s a difficult effort," Fernández said. "I know they´ll only break their fast when Ulises Ruiz goes."
The divisions within the Oaxaca regional branch of the education workers union, known as Section 22, were evident Tuesday as a minority of teachers began returning to their classrooms for the first time since May 22. The AP reported that 4,000 of the state´s 14,000 schools had reopened.
But other teachers continued Tuesday to criticize Section 22 head Enrique Rueda for agreeing to return to work before Ruiz´s fate and the original salary adjustment demands were met. Union delegates have yet to approve the deal, but were making preparations Tuesday night for a vote.
APPO leaders have said they will respect whatever decision the teachers make but continue their actions regardless. And Rueda insists an end to the walkout will not mean the demand to remove Ruiz will be dropped. However, a return to the classroom by the teachers, accompanied by more than a million education-starved Oaxaca children, would surely change the dynamic of the protest movement.
Conversely, a rejection of the deal would likely be followed by more calls for the use of force to restore order in Oaxaca. Party leaders and legislators from Ruiz´s Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) have vigorously urged federal intervention.
Two of those PRI leaders - party president Mariano Palacios Alcocer and former Sen. Enrique Jackson - were meeting Tuesday evening with Interior Secretary Carlos Abascal, the Fox administration official handling the Oaxaca crisis. The secretariat released no information in advance about the nature of the meeting, but it was presumed to deal with Oaxaca.
In Mexico City, the federal Attorney General´s Office declined to elaborate on reports that they have begun investigations of 56 federal crimes and have 10 arrest warrants related to the five- month-old protest movement.
EL UNIVERSAL staff writer Jorge Ochoa in Oaxaca contributed to this report.