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Julie Webb-Pullman: The Mad Hatter’s PRI Party

The Mad Hatter’s PRI Party

By Julie Webb-Pullman

If memorial events for murdered Mexican human rights lawyer Digna Ochoa last weekend marked a melding of Mexico’s past and present, the future was forged this week, as Oaxaca unravelled in events of unrivalled insanity.

Whilst last Friday, the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN), San Salvador Atenco’s Peoples’ Front in Defence of the Land (FPDT), and the Popular Assembly of the People of Oaxaca (APPO) made a historic pledge of mutual support to fight for the liberation of political prisoners and create a united front against repressive municipal, state and federal authorities, this Friday saw those very state and federal authorities unleashing an unprecedented (in Oaxaca at least) round of repression, killing at least four and injuring scores more, in the name of restoring public order.

Brad Will lies dying. Photo: Francisco Olvera

Only the Mad Hatter would even attempt to manipulate the facts so magnificently as to transform a series of premeditated synchronised attacks by van-loads of heavily-armed thugs of the Revolutionary Institutional Party (PRI, pronounced ‘pree’) on citizens peacefully manning the barricades of a forewarned blockade, into an exercise in peace-making.

Only the Mad Hatter would expect the entire country to be dormice, sleeping through the most cynically-conceived fraud since the July 2 elections. Whilst representatives of APPO were negotiating the reopening next week of Oaxacan schools in good faith, Oaxacan Governor Ulises Ruiz was busily hatching his own ‘final solution’ to restore the only order he understands - “Fire!”

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Dutifully obeying commands, at 9.30am a group of armed men headed by Felipe Martínez Solís fired off rounds as they torched the offices of the School of Law and Social Sciences at the Benito Juarez Autonomous University, and soon afterwards, shot up a barricade 500 meters from the university, causing those manning it to flee for their lives. The gunmen were travelling in a white van, number plate TJM 6337. Around 5pm, 15 different barricades around the city were subjected to almost simultaneous shootings, resulting in four confirmed deaths - US journalist Bradley Roland Will (known as Brad Will) and three locals, teacher Emilio Alonso, activist Fabián Esteba Ruiz, and Coyotepec resident Zurita López, whose body this-morning had yet to be released.

Ulises undoubtedly Ruiz the day he hired cop-killer Salvador Eusebio Ramírez (also known as Israel Ramírez Bracamontes) and his henchmen to do his dirty work, now that the white van belonging to him and used in the barricade shootings stars in video footage, as does PRI-affiliated paramilitary assassin Pedro Carmona, whose cameo-appearance was shot by Brad Will moments before he himself was shot - dead. Co-starring in the horror pics are PRI-istas Abel Santiago Zárate, Manuel Aguilar, and David Aguilar Robles.

Alice might expect that because the identities of these killer gunmen and violent assailants of peaceful protests are known, there would be prompt arrests – and there were.

At least 40 victims have been detained, and at 1.40am human rights observers were hopeful that the pending transfer to prison would at least result in essential medical treatment for those with bullet wounds received when marauding PRI-istas with municipal authorities and state police attacked the Santa María Coyotepec blockade, but this was by no means certain. After all, according to a report in The Universal, doctors who tried to attend to Emilio Alonso as he lay wounded in the road were continually repelled by shots, and his body was still lying there, by then dead, some two and a half hours later.

And in response to this massacre manufactured by State Governor Ruiz and his hired help, instead of arresting the guilty gunmen and sacking the intellectual author of the crimes, clearly corrupt and incompetent Ruiz, Fox has sent in federal forces to “guarantee the population's security and to re-establish order and peace” - by repressing anyone left standing!! Who says he hasn’t learned from history – remember Atenco?

His Federal Government buried the Human Rights Commission Report on Atenco, refusing to bring the authors of those atrocities to account, the Senate refused to bury Ruiz by formally stripping him of the powers he clearly no longer has, and as a result of this culture of impunity, the people of Oaxaca continue to bury their dead.

If the dormouse woke up, he would hear what PRI leaders have been warning for weeks - that if they permit Ruiz to fall, the same could happen to putative ‘President –Elect’ Felipe Calderon. And there lies the crux of the matter – Fox, the Senate, and all of Mexico, is only too aware that the Mad Hatter’s Mini-Me, Felipe Calderon, was not elected by the majority of the people of Mexico, his neo-liberalist policies do not have the support of the majority of the people of Mexico, he does not have the support of the majority of the people of Mexico, and just like Ulises Ruiz in Oaxaca, he will be incapable of governing – by any means other than brute force. The Preventive Federal Police (PFP), responsible for the atrocities in Atenco, have arrived in Oaxaca, and an offensive is expected tonight.

APPO this evening said they will not let the PFP take the city, that they are violating Mexican law, and have called upon all Oaxacans to leave the streets and fortify the barricades.

Meanwhile, government strategists are currently advising authorities that unlike Atenco, this time they should make sure they use arrest warrants when they attack the people, as if that will ‘cleanse’ the operation.

Like Alice, one can only wonder why the aggressors are not the ones being arrested, why those who broke the public peace and breached the existing public order by gunning down the barricades are roaming free, while the PFP prepare to pulverise the victims.

Whether Mexico’s future is forged in the furnace of repression, as now seems inevitable, or in the fresh air of fairness, justice, and enjoyment of human rights depends on us all, not just on the teachers of Oaxaca, the APPO, the EZLN, the FPDT, and the millions of ordinary Mexicans who continue to struggle for a life of dignity and justice even when, like Digna Ochoa, the two of Atenco, the 12 of Oaxaca, the hundreds of Chiapas, the thousands throughout Mexico, and those in the Zòcalo tonight, they die trying.

Another cup of PRI, anyone?


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