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Latest from Oaxaca and San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas

Oscar Beard | 28.11.2006 22:00 | Oaxaca Uprising | Repression | Social Struggles | Zapatista | World

Oaxaca: Mass arrests, dissent crushing, Indymedia journalist disappeared.
San Cristobal de las Casas: Military spotted in the streets.

Oaxaca has seen some of the worst violence in recent days.

Narco News ( reported 150 being shipped out of Oaxaca to prisons in other states.

Tacho's article ( just published on IMC UK said over 300 arrest warrants have been issued.

Reports at 12pm from Oaxaca, 6pm UK time, said there were "no whities" with camreas in Oaxaca anymore, meaning the international mainstream media have more than likely moved out, the entire crisis becoming too dangerous to operate.

But the main concern was the disappearance of an Indymedia journalist, this time a Mexican man - no name as yet.

Witnesses said he was targeted by the Federal police (PFP), grabbed at gun point, arrested and taken away. He has not been seen since and there is great concern for his safety.

It all seems another world away, here in Chiapas, as tourists stroll around the Zocalo.

But even they are starting to look worried now. The idilic sanctuary of San Cristobal is starting to crumble, even for the uninformed.

I decided to escape from base camp for a while - slowly going stir crazy in here - and headed to a cheap burger bar.

The visibly increasing prescence of heavily armed state police here has become just another site to behold.

But on leaving the burger bar I walked straight into a military truck parked in the Zocalo, outside one bank, one soldier riding atop the truck with a machine gun.

In the main square I spotted eight soldiers, two outside a branch of Banamex bank, the others were positioning themselves in various corners of the square. All were armed with differing variations of M-16 assault rifles.

After one soldier pointed at me, causing blood to drain from my face and cold sweat to burst out across my body, I decided to return to the safety of base camp, which is not that safe as it is widely known to be supporting the rebel movement, and talk to a few others about this latest development - to see if military in the streets were normal.

It turns out the soldier who was pointing, was directing two of his troops to their positions, and, in pure coincidence, I was right in his field of vision, thank god.

Those who I have spoken to had not seen the military here, some having lived here for months.

The rumours I had heard back in the UK before coming here, now came from the veterans around here. It is expected this place San Cristobal, and Chiapas, is going to be jumped on hard.

Considering it is the heartland of the Zapatistas, and with incoming President Calderon making disturbing speeches about "sweeping reforms" - which could mean anything from improved public services to a total trouncing of all dissent in the country - the military and state force buildup should come as no surprise. But that doesn't make it any less unnerving.

"Experts" in the mainstream say the Mexican people are "fed up" with political unrest, probably meaning the conservative population will happily sit by as more Oacaxas happen.

I am heading back out now to double-check what is going on in the streets. The only other reason I can see for the military appearing are the ever-growing lines of locals outside the banks, waiting for their cheques from the goverment aid programs "Precede" and "Progresso", pay for dividing their communal land into individual sellable plots.

Photographs and filiming is hard as it only draws suspicion and will only result in a short stint in prison before being shipped out form Mexico with no chance of returning.

Oscar Beard


Military have gone

28.11.2006 23:43

Another walk around the city showed the military had gone.

Further contacts have told me it is not uncommon to see them around the banks - for reasons I cannot say now, told if I wrote why they're there I probably wouldn't last another 24-hours - but there is an increase in numbers when they turn up, and most seem to think panning out across the Zocalo is a "little wierd".

Other than that is the increase in undercover police. Last night I was followed again, this time by two gorillas. They follow, sending text messages every few minutes. They are on street corners of known meeting houses.

But I am told by one, whose experience I trust more than anyone, if they are following at least they know what you are not doing. The trouble is how do we know what we are doing is not considered dangerous?

Oscar Beard

Correction to previous article

29.11.2006 06:57

It is now unknown if the person grabbed by PFP was actually a member of Indymedia.

All that is confirmed now from contacts in Oaxaca is one person, a known friend of IMC was abducted and has disappeared.

Oscar Beard