Mexico riot police re-take Oaxaca


Oct 29, 2006

Burning barricades were pulled down by federal police

Mexican riot police have seized control of the southern city of Oaxaca, ending a five-month occupation by striking teachers and leftist activists.

The demonstrators had been calling for the resignation of the state governor.

The 4,000 federal officers, backed by armoured trucks and helicopters, met little resistance. One man is reported to have died in the operation.

The president ordered the action after gunmen killed three people, including a US journalist, on Friday.

The federal police were met with little resistance when they entered the city from several directions.

Water cannons were used to split up small groups of protesters. Barricades made of burning tyres and old furniture were pulled down.

One man is reported to have died after being hit by a tear gas canister.


President Fox ordered the offensive on Saturday, a day after gunfire killed two Mexicans and a US cameraman working with independent news group Indymedia.

Interior Minister Carlos Abascal said it was necessary to send in troops to restore peace because of the "inability" of Governor Ulises Ruiz to handle the situation.

Political tensions

The demonstrators have been seeking to oust Gov Ruiz, whom they say has rigged elections and over-used force to try to break up the protest.

Thousands of schools have been closed since the strike began in May, leaving 1.3 million children out of school.

The teachers initially staged the walk-out, demanding higher pay and better working conditions.

However, after police attacked one of their demonstrations in June, they extended their demands to include a call for the resignation of Gov Ruiz. The teachers were joined in their protest by left-wing groups.

Some 70,000 teachers have voted to return to school on Monday - a move which may ease tensions in the city, says the BBC's Duncan Kennedy in Mexico.

However, some protesters have said they will continue to fight for the removal of Mr Ruiz.

President Fox, who leaves office on 1 December, may have succeeded in bringing the stand-off to an end, but the underlying political tensions remain, our correspondent says.