Inauguration of Felipe Calderón © Mexico, Presidency of the Republic
ANALYSIS: Mexico – New Governments, old Issues


June 14: A sit-in by Section 22 of the SNTE which had occupied the historic centre of Oaxaca City since May 22 is violently repressed, leaving four people dead and 92 wounded.

June 17-21: In response to government repression, the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (Asamblea Popular de los Pueblos de Oaxaca, or APPO) s created.

July: Influenced by the APPO, popular movements establish people’s governments in the councils of almost 30 municipalities. They refuse to recognize the elected municipal presidents, the majority of whom are members of the PRI.

16 – 17 August: A National Forum “Building Democracy and Governability in Oaxaca” attracts some 1,500 people from every region of the state. Its principal aim is to analyse the current political situation and propose alternative solutions.

30 August: Six supposed guerrilla groups sign a manifesto in which they threaten to take “strong measures” if the state and federal governments use force to suppress the popular movement. Some analysts consider the manifesto to be government propaganda, paving the way for the state to justify repressive actions such as the militarization of the Northern Sierra in Oaxaca.

September 4-8: A civilian observers mission in Oaxaca is coordinated by the Oaxacan Human Rights Network (Red Oaxaqueña de Derechos Humanos, or RODH) and the National Network “All Rights For All” (Red Nacional Todos los Derechos para Todas y Todos). Composed of sixteen local, national and international organizations, including SIPAZ, the delegation visits Oaxaca City and various municipalities with the objective of documenting living conditions and human rights violations in the state of Oaxaca.

September: Talks began between the Ministry of the Interior, APPO and Section 22 of the SNTE, without arriving at any significant results. The APPO and the teachers continue to demand the resignation of Governor Ulises Ruiz, considering this a non-negotiable point, while the Ministry of the Interior proposes the possibility of a “profound transformation of the state government” without the dismissal of the governor.

4 October: A meeting is held in the Ministry of the Interior in which an “agreement for the governability, peace and development of Oaxaca,” is meant to be celebrated. No agreement with the contending parties was in fact reached however.

12 October: A citizens’ initiative for a dialogue for peace, democracy and justice in Oaxaca begins, with the participation of some 2,000 people. The Declaration of Santo Domingo is approved and six working groups are established:

  • 1: New Democracy and Governability (addressing the political crisis)
  • 2: Social and Common Economy (the economic crisis)
  • 3: Towards a New Education System (the education crisis)
  • 4: Harmony, Justice and Social Equality (the social crisis)
  • 5: Historical, Cultural and Natural Heritage in Oaxaca
  • 6: Media in Service of the People

27 October: Several violent incidents occur at different locations in Oaxaca City in which four people are killed, including a U.S. journalist (click here for an interview in Spanish with his lawyer) while several others are wounded. According to local human rights organizations, there is evidence that local police were involved, as well as organized groups armed and trained by the state government to carry out violent acts against the opposition movements.

29 October: The Federal Preventative Police (Policía Federal Preventiva, or PFP) is sent into Oaxaca by the federal government. The PFP enters the city early in the morning and by the evening is in control of the central plaza. The APPO says the operation led to at least four deaths, while the federal government claims that there were no casualties.

30 October: Governor Ulises Ruiz reiterates his position that his leaving office “is not up for discussion, nor is it a solution to the political crisis in the state.” Later, the full session of the federal Chamber of Deputies passes a motion– with the exception of the PRI and the Green Ecologist Party of Mexico (Partido Verde Ecologista de México, or PVEM) – urging Governor Ulises Ruiz to take a leave of absence or to resign. The Oaxacan state government immediately makes a constitutional appeal to overrule the members of the Congress.

The Senate of the Republic, which had previously rejected the dissolution of power in Oaxaca, calls unanimously (including PRI members) on Governor Ulises Ruiz “to reconsider leaving office in order to contribute to the re-establishment of governability, normality and peace.” The Senate invites all sides of the conflict to contribute to the establishment of peace within the state.

2 November: The arrival of the PFP marks a change in the prolonged conflict in Oaxaca though without resolving the underlying issues. After this date there are violent confrontations around the university campus in Oaxaca between the APPO and the PFP, with control of the University Radio station being a major point of contention.

6 November: Guerrilla groups detonate several bombs in Mexico City, attacking banks, the Electoral Tribunal and the PRI’s offices. They justify the actions as protests against electoral fraud and the repression in Oaxaca and Atenco.

Later that week the APPO intensifies its actions, calling for a “new general offensive” and initiating a massive popular mobilization, bringing together tens of thousands of people to demand the removal of Ulises Ruiz and the withdrawal of the federal troops from Oaxaca City. Demonstrations of solidarity with the APPO are held in several cities across Europe, North America and South America, as well as in Mexico City. The federal Minister of the Interior decides however to allow Ulises Ruiz more time, asking that he use this opportunity to present a “reconciliation plan.”

13 November: The APPO presents its plan of action, proposing the creation of a 250 member council, the re-installation of street barricades and the re-occupation of public buildings. It also says it will act to prevent the assumption of power by Felipe Calderón on December 1, if Ulises Ruiz is not removed before that date.

25 November: The PFP confronts APPO members marching towards the historic centre of Oaxaca City. According to the newspaper La Jornada, the resulting confrontation leaves more than 140 people wounded, including three journalists, 140 arrests and the burning of numerous public and private buildings as well as vehicles.

27 November: Members of the APPO, arrested during the confrontations of November 25, are transferred from the Miahuatlán prison in Oaxaca to a prison in San José del Rincón, in Nayarit state. Other activists are taken to the Federal Maximum Security Centre in Matamoros, in Tamaulipas state. The latter two prisons are located more than 600 miles from Oaxaca City.

1 December: Felipe Calderón Hinojosa begins his term as President of Mexico, sparking major protests at the Legislative Palace which is surrounded by security forces in a climate of tension and confrontation. In Oaxaca, a march of 5,000 people takes place.

4 December: Flavio Sosa, one of 264 members of the APPO council, and three others are arrested in Mexico City. The arrest warrant is issued by a federal court and accuses them of sedition, attacks on transportation routes and incitement to violence. The APPO councillor is taken to the Altiplano maximum security prison in Almoloya de Juárez, in the state of Mexico.

16 December: The PFP withdraws from the historic centre of Oaxaca City, passing control to the state police.

17 December: Forty-three prisoners are released alter having been arrested by the PFP and taken to the medium security prison in San José del Rincón, Nayarit.

18 December: The National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) presents its preliminary report on the violent events in Oaxaca. According to the Commission, “in the state and in particular the capital, the conflict is ongoing, and the necessary conditions for the enforcement and observance of fundamental rights do not exist.” There are 1,211 complaints to the CNDH, relating to the “alleged use of unwarranted force, arbitrary detentions, holding of prisoners incommunicado, disappearances , damage to people and property, threats and illegal searches.” After considering the events since the beginning of the conflict the Commission produces the following statistics: 20 killed, 370 wounded, 349 people arrested.

22 December: A new section of the teachers union is created in Oaxaca, Section 59, comprising teachers opposed to the Section 22 and their “mobilizations and constant strikes”. The new section is linked to the controversial union leader Elba Ester Gordillo (ex-Secretary General of the PRI, but expelled from that party in 2006).