Mexican city remains restive after police recapture plaza


October 31, 2006|By Los Angeles Times

OAXACA, Mexico -- The state capital remained divided yesterday, as thousands marched in defiance while many other residents praised government forces that dislodged a protest encampment from the city center this weekend.

The recovery of the plaza by federal police late Sunday marked a symbolic end to the five-month occupation by striking teachers and an assortment of leftist supporters who have demanded the resignation of the state governor.

But exactly when the tourist capital will return to normal remains in doubt. Police have occupied the central plaza in the place of protesters.

Mexican President Vicente Fox declared victory yesterday, saying, "The plaza and city were recovered for the citizenry of Oaxaca."

Although at least two deaths were reported during the 12-hour invasion by more than 4,000 riot police and armored equipment, Fox described the operation to a convention of stockholders as "bloodless" and conducted without the use of weapons.

Flavio Sosa, a leader of the leftist movement known by its Spanish-language initials APPO, said yesterday that the government had only recovered a single block, after protesters ceded it in the face of overwhelming force.

Protestors converged on central plaza in the early afternoon from three directions in a largely peaceful demonstration calling for the ouster of federal police and the resignation of Gov. Ulises Ruiz.

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