ANALYSIS: Mexico 2008, Turbulence on the horizon?


1 January: Twenty communities in the indigenous Triqui region come together to form the autonomous municipality of San Juan Copala, which they will govern under the principles of usos y costumbres [in which indigenous communities practice self-government, organizing according to their traditions, known as uses and customs] in order to avoid the corruption and violence embedded in the official party system. The leaders of the communities form part of the APPO, and denounce death threats against them made by the Oaxaca state authorities.

17 January: The National Supreme Court (Suprema Corte de Justicia de la Nación, or SCJN) gives priority to the appeal registered by Oaxaca Governor Ulises Ruiz, over and above the plea made at the end of October by the Chamber of Deputies in which they asked him to leave office.

24 January: The Permanent Commission of the Congress of the Union creates a special commission of legislators to verify human rights violations as well as the legal and political situation of those imprisoned by the Ulises Ruiz government as a result of their participation in the APPO.

12 February: The APPO decides not to participate in the elections due to be conducted later in the year for Oaxaca’s state congress and municipalities. It does, however, agree to promote a “punishment” vote against the PRI and PAN parties for their role in the repression of the movement.

23 February: Section 22 of the SNTE occupies more than thirty state government offices for several days. The union demands that the agreement negotiated with the federal government in October 2006 be respected.

18 March: The sit-in held opposite the Mexican Senate by the APPO since October 9, 2006, is dispersed. Participants in the sit-in report acts of aggression and theft during the eviction and accuse the PRD government of Mexico City of being an accomplice of Ulises Ruíz.

22 March: Federal Interior Minister Ramírez Acuña makes assurances that Felipe Calderón’s administration will fulfil agreements signed with the APPO and Section 22 during the previous Fox presidency. The APPO initiates another sit-in at the Federal Attorney General’s office as both a show of solidarity with the family of Brad Will [the U.S. journalist murdered in the Oaxaca conflict] and a demand that murders perpetrated during the 2006 conflict be resolved.

3 April: The Peoples’ Assembly–Mixteca Region, supported by the APPO, is formed in an area with one of the largest indigenous populations in Oaxaca.

6 April: Internal divisions in Oaxaca’s PRD are publicly exposed for the first time. Members of the PRD meet with electoral authorities, presenting themselves as two independent coalitions: one supported by the state PRD office and the other by the PRD’s national authorities. The State Electoral Institute (IEE, Instituto Estatal Electoral) finds in favour of the first group, arguing that the PRD’s national authorities are not authorized to sponsor a coalition in Oaxaca. The national PRD, accusing the state office of acting under the orders of Governor Ulises Ruíz, files a suit to contest the claim and considers the expulsion of the “rebel” Oaxacan PRD members. Eventually, the suit is accepted and representatives of the Broad Progressive Front (FAP, Frente Amplio Progresista) –the coalition with national PRD support– participates in the elections.

20 – 21 April: The Third International Forum in Defence of Human Rights in Oaxaca takes place in Oaxaca City.

May 25: According to claims by the Revolutionary Popular Army (Ejército Popular Revolucionario, or EPR), two of their members, Edmundo Reyes Amaya and Gabriel Alberto Cruz Sánchez, are forcibly disappeared in Oaxaca City.

14 June: Teachers from Section 22 of the teachers union and members of the APPO conduct a march to commemorate the violent eviction of the teachers’ union protest that occurred exactly one year before. A new sit-in is established in the main plaza of Oaxaca City on June 18.

19 June: A clash in a land dispute which can be traced as far back as 1941 leaves two dead, six wounded and eight missing. This toll is a result of a confrontation between the municipality of San Miguel Aloapán, associated with the Institutional Revolutionary Party (Partido Revolucionario Institucional, or PRI), and the municipal agency San Isidro Aloapán, linked with the Popular Indigenous Council of Oaxaca – Ricardo Flores Magón.

27 June: Negotiations are opened between Section 22 of the teachers’ union, the APPO and the General Secretary of the Oaxaca State Government, Manuel García Corpus. Among the topics discussed in the following weeks are the revision of charges against those still in detention; revision of the legal situation of the majority of detainees, who were only freed on bail ; the handover of schools under the control of Section 59 (the faction of the teachers’ union opposed to Section 22); and the cancellation of outstanding arrest warrants.

5 July: The Triqui Movement for Unity and Struggle (Movimiento de Unificación y Lucha Triqui, or MULT) denounces the disapearance of two sisters in the Mixteca zone of Oaxaca: Virginia Ortiz Ramírez and Daniela Ortiz Ramirez, aged 14 and 20 respectively.

10 July: The EPR claims responsibility for eight explosive charges detonated in PEMEX (Mexico’s state-owned oil company) pipelines in Guanajuato and Querétaro. They state that the explosions are part of a campaign to demand the safe return of two EPR members who had been forcibly disappeared in May.

July 16: Confrontations between members and sympathizers of the APPO and police officers leave 60 people wounded and 42 detained. The clash occurs as 10,000 people celebrate the Guelaguetza Festival, a traditional holiday in Oaxaca City.

31 July: Amnesty International publishes a report on the human rights situation in Oaxaca: Oaxaca, clamour for justice (See report by Amnesty International  and the Sipaz Blog).

1 August: Alleged members of the EPR set off a small bomb in the south of Oaxaca City. They demand the safe return of EPR members Edmundo Reyes Amaya and Gabriel Alberto Cruz Sánchez.

5 August: State Congress elections are carried out in relative calm across the state of Oaxaca. Over 70% of those eligible to vote abstain and the PRI maintains its majority in the state congress.

8 – 11 August: Florentín Meléndez, President of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IAHRC) and also the Special Rapporteur for Mexico and Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons Deprived of Freedom in the Organization of American States (OAS), visits Oaxaca.

7 October: The 152 Oaxaca municipalities governed by the political party system hold elections. Voter participation is the same as in previous elections (64%), although this figure hides a wide variation in participation rates across the state. The PRI wins the majority of these municipalities.

2 November: In well-attended marches the APPO commemorates the incursion of the Federal Preventative Police (PFP) into Oaxaca City. At least nineteen people are arrested at the Five Senores Crossing while demonstrating, and then released the following day. Other demonstrations are held in the Mixteca, Cañada, Isthmus and Coastal regions of the state.

25 November: Thousands of APPO sympathizers and teachers from Section 22 of the teachers union demonstrate to commemorate the events of 25 November the previous year when violent clashes occurred between state security forces and the Federal Preventative Police, leaving 149 people arrested and serious damage to public buildings.

27 December: A third appeal finds in favour of David Venegas, a member of Oaxacan Voices Constructing Autonomy and Liberty (Voces Oaxaqueñas Construyendo Autonomía y Libertad, or VOCAL), and an APPO councillor. He had been detained for the pre-fabricated crime of carrying drugs.

30 December: Indigenous Chatino leader Lauro Juarez, a fifty-year-old member of the social organization Union of Poor Campesinos-Popular Revolutionary Front (Unión de Campesinos Pobres-Frente Popular Revolucionario, UCP-FPR), disappears after participating in a protest on the highway between Oaxaca City and Puerto Escondido.