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Cablegate: Oaxaca: Attitudes Harden As Protestors Shift

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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MEXICO 005567

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV MX
SUBJECT: OAXACA: ATTITUDES HARDEN AS PROTESTORS SHIFT
DIRECTION

REF: MEXICO 4619

1. (SBU) Summary: In recent days, positions on the opposing
sides of the Oaxaca crisis appear to have hardened as
tensions continue to mount. To pressure the federal
government to send forces to resolve the conflict, local
business leaders declared that several thousand
establishments, including 147 gas stations, would shut down
for two days, beginning the night of September 27. The same
day, a group of Oaxaca mayors and legislators gathered
outside the Secretariat of Government in Mexico City urging
the federal government to use force to restore the rule of
law. On September 25, President Fox met with Oaxaca Governor
Ulises Ruiz and 10 other PRI governors who backed Ruiz and
demanded that the GOM not engage in any negotiation that
would lead to his dismissal. On September 24, a violent
exchange occurred when protestors entered a Oaxaca City hotel
searching for Ruiz, who they thought was in the building.
Incidents of violence and sabotage persist. Meanwhile, a
group of up to 5,000 Oaxaca protestors are making their way
by foot to Mexico City to demand the removal of Ruiz. End
summary.

Negotiations go nowhere
-----------------------

2. (SBU) As the four month strike continues, it is
complicating President Fox,s exit and worrying
president-elect Felipe Calderon. Although Fox has assured
Calderon he will resolve the crisis before leaving office
December 1, he appears to be vacillating in his response with
a strategy of &wait and see.8 The federal government finds
itself in a pickle. Although both the federal and state
governments have indicated a willingness to increase the
teachers, salaries significantly, the Popular People,s
Assembly of Oaxaca (APPO) refuses to negotiate unless Ruiz
leaves office, which the governor steadfastly refuses to do.

3. (SBU) As a result, mediation efforts by Secretary of
Government Carlos Abascal have foundered. Only the national
or state senate can remove Ruiz, an almost impossible
scenario in the PRI-dominated state congress and an unlikely
scenario in the national senate where the PAN needs PRI
cooperation in order to govern. (Note: The PRI recognizes
that if it agreed to remove Ruiz before his two year mark in
office on December 1, state elections would be called and a
non-PRI candidate would likely win. End note). In addition,
many in the federal government do not want to remove a
sitting governor for fear of the precedent that would set,
and they do not wish to give Mexico,s diverse radical groups
a common enemy against which to unite.

Teachers will no longer be paid
-------------------------------

4. (SBU) Although Ruiz indicated he would stop paying
salaries and terminate the contracts of teachers who didn,t
return to work on September 25, the teachers have not
returned. Yet many will soon feel the pinch of not being
paid (they were last paid September 15 and are due to receive
their salaries again September 29) and some will see no
choice but to return to work. As that happens, the strike
will lose energy. An outstanding question is whether the
teachers would be able to return to work without a credible
threat of violence against them from radical groups demanding
the governor,s ouster.

5. (SBU) The leadership and agendas of the Oaxaca teachers
and APPO organizations are diffuse. The strike continues to
ride on a wave of discontent with Ruiz,s authoritarian style
of governorship and is underpinned by the marginalization and
poverty of many Oaxacans. Political analyst Rossana Fuentes
told poloff she thought it unlikely the unrest could spread
to other states or become a national movement. However, she
expressed concern that armed guerilla groups, such as the
EZLN, might try to use the Oaxaca protests as a pretext to
generate additional instability.

Mexico City Sit-in Part II
--------------------------

6. (SBU) The APPO may not be alone in the coming Mexico City
protest, which will likely focus on the Secretariat of
Government, the national Senate, and the zocalo. Javier

MEXICO 00005567 002 OF 002


Quijano, a lawyer who represented Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador
(AMLO) during the desafuero campaign against him, told poloff
he believed that some PRD supporters could join the Oaxaca
protestors next week. He also thought the protest could feed
into the annual October 2 march to commemorate the 1968
massacre of Mexican students. However, the APPO does not
represent a revolutionary movement. It is targeted against
the governor and old PRI structure in Oaxaca, and is looking
to Mexico,s institutions--namely, the federal government--to
heed its demands. Although the APPO to some extent threatens
Oaxaca,s democratic structure, the protesters see no other
way to remove who they consider a reprehensible governor and
are marching to Mexico City in order to voice their concerns
free from thugs loyal to Ruiz.

7. (SBU) Comment: If Oaxaca,s teachers begin to return to
work, the multidimensional protest will likely take on a new
dynamic, with the teachers, movement weakening and radical
groups under the APPO umbrella losing the teachers, support.
This erosion of unity is presumably what the federal
government is counting on. Oaxacans have tired of the
conflict and many are openly calling the federal government
to intervene. Despite Ruiz,s urging and although it hasn,t
ruled this out, the Fox government appears disinclined to use
force to resolve the conflict. However, if the coming Mexico
City protest leads to violence or radical groups in Oaxaca
succeed in further undermining the state,s governability,
then the federal government will be hard pressed not to act.
Based on the peaceful nature of the PRD-protest in support of
AMLO, we believe that the Government of Mexico City has
demonstrated the capacity of containing protestors in the
capital, and the Oaxaca protest will be much smaller than
AMLO,s. That said, some groups represented by APPO have
turned to violence in Oaxaca and could trigger it in Mexico
City. Whatever the outcome, the ongoing crisis contributes
to an impression of political instability and lessens
investor confidence in Mexico. Oaxaca could become
president-elect Calderon,s first major challenge.


Visit Mexico City's Classified Web Site at
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/wha/mexicocity

GARZA

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