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The battle of Oaxaca

> ALAI, Latin America in Movement (...)

While the People of Oaxaca prepared to partake in the traditions that are repeated from year to year, spending the day in the cemeteries sharing food, flowers, pains and joys with their deceased, “operation Juárez 2006” unfolded around the Independent University Benito Juárez de Oaxaca (UABJO).
Just as in Iraq, the Ramadan is an opportunity to execute military operations that take advantage of the lowered guard of the resistance movement, the Day of the Dead in Oaxaca, with its rituals and the general demobilization due to the long break (November 1-5), was the occasion that was chosen for taking control of what the military commanders, after having occupied the main square (Zocalo), have considered to be the center core for activities of the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO).
The treatment of this conflict, which in previous months had managed, though with many difficulties, to remain within a largely political framework, registered a rapid shift, as of October 28th, towards the military plane. The change was announced after a gloomy day on which groups of irregular forces, presumably linked to the governor Ulises Ruiz, mobilized to create a scene of disordered and uncontrolled violence. The scene was used to justify the presence of the Federal Preventative Police (PFP), a body of military police created for internal security, and whose statue is, by the way, unconstitutional. The military intelligence, under direct orders from the commanders of the Center of National Research and Security (CISEN) which form the High Command (or Joint Command), has taken control of Oaxaca after the incidents of violence (that caused the death of American journalist Bradley Will, among others), thereby turning a political dispute into an issue of national security, for which military operations are put in place.
The operation put in practice is defined by the Minister of the Interior as one of “occupation” in which the PFP works together with the Federal Agency of Investigations (AFI), homologous to the North American FBI. Meanwhile, the Navy and the Army are placed on guard for potential intervention (troops prepared in the military and coastal sectors) and keep watch.
Taking control of the main square was the first step in a strategy apparently thought of as a star which, once having occupied the center, unfurls itself in lines of irradiation towards the peripheries and outside the capital, where evidently exist the roots and deeper origins of a movement that emanates from the peoples of Oaxaca.
Paradoxically, the operation was not intended for the demobilization of the irregular groups responsible for the confusion and deaths on the 29th, but is directed specifically to the places where the APPO maintained a public presence.
The immediate goal consists, then, of dismantling the positions in the main square and in disabling the means of communication that the Oaxacan people would use to communicate among themselves and with the world. But just as in Iraq the delicate operation planned by the Pentagon failed, the taking of the main square in this case only spatially displaced what has never been a just a group of leaders, but an entire people mobilized. The first planning error in this operation is that, being conceived in military terms, it identifies with the enemy as a fixed and delimited being, when its nature is diffused, extended, interwoven and impersonal, because it has a collective and not an individualized personality. The bases of the APPO shifted, creating a sort of strip around the main square that, at one point, inspired an image of the besieger being besieged; but they actually disintegrated into the whole city, recreating their territoriality according to the new circumstances.  read

date of on-line publication : 9 November 2006

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