Attack on the University Radio
Thursday 2 Nov 2006

by G.S.  <george.salzman@umb.edu>

this page is at http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/Strate/2006-11-02.htm

   I completed the text part of the report below at 8:45 pm Thursday, at which time Radio Universidad was still broadcasting. At 9:20 pm I e-mailed it to my entire list. Friday morning I saw that NarcoNews had posted it with other pictures, pictures of the violent confrontation between movement people guarding the radio by trying to keep the Federal Preventive Police from entering university grounds, where Radio Universidad is located. Right now it's Sunday morning.

   I saw only the early part of the pitched battle when the police troops began to advance north on Avenida Universidad from the junction at Plaza del Valle. A much better sense of the full intensity of the resistance is in the video recording "Victoria en Todos Santos en Oaxaca". To see it, go to
http://www.mexico.indymedia.org/multimediaoaxaca and click on the link to that film. I watched it on what's called YouTube. I'm not knowledgeable about the technology, so there may be other viewing possibilities. Except for the long time it took to download, even with a high-speed connection, I recommend it highly.

   The original e-mail follows, but with some photos and photo captions added:

Thu, 02 Nov 2006 21:20:06 -0600
Radio Universidad in Oaxaca still broadcasting,
a miracle of people's resistance

      Radio Universidad at 1400 am remains a strong voice at 1:30 pm, but how much longer it will continue is unclear. As the only station still broadcasting for the Popular Assembly movement of Oaxaca, it is a critically important link as well as a source of the most current information on the struggle. It was brazenly emphasized on the early Monday morning Televisa/Government version of “the news” that the last powerful transmitter aligned with the people’s movement was to be a high priority target of the so-called Federal Preventive Police (PFP in its initials in Spanish). This morning an


Oaxaca City, the capital of Oaxaca State, sits in the Central Valley between two chains of mountains. The Northern Sierras separate the valley from the lowlands adjacent to Veracruz, and the Southern Sierras from the coastal area along the Pacific. Inverted red Vs on the map. The capital city is roughly in the center of the state. The "heart" of the city is the famous Zócalo, where the sleeping teachers were first attacked by state forces on 14 June 2006 and ultimately driven out by federal forces on 30 October, three days before the attack on the university. The map full size is available at the website
http://www.mexconnect.com/mex_/oaxaca/mapoaxaca.html .

army of troops dressed in PFP uniforms began the frontal assault on the University enclave, called University City, where the station is located. This “army” indeed looks like a mass of mostly grunts, young guys in their late teens and early twenties, most surely drafted by economic necessity into the military ranks.

      The battle raged on University Avenue while I was there. Avenida Universidad is a north-south four-lane road a little over a half-mile long that runs from the Periferal highway junction at the north, the Cinco Senores intersection, to the Plaza del Valley junction at the south. University City occupies a roughly square block a


The small green square near the upper left corner is the Zócalo. The large green approximate square just below "CINCO SEÑORES" is the main campus of UABJO,in which Radio Universidad is located. The green trapezoid just below and to the left is the university athletic area. Avenida Universidad runs along the west side of the main campus and the east side of the athlectic fields.

little more than 1/4 mile on each side. This is the main campus of the Benito Juarez Autonomous University of Oaxaca (UABJO in its Spanish initials), located about 1.1 mile southeast of the Zócalo. This area is supposedly “autonomous” in the strict sense that the university authorities have exclusive control over the area. Police, military, federal authorities, state officials, and so on are in principle not allowed to enter the grounds unless explicitly invited by the Rector of the university. It is located on the east side of Avenida Universidad, about a block or two south of the intersection.

      This morning we heard that the PFP was going to invade Ciudad Universidad on the grounds that there were reported to be firearms there. That’s a typical pretext the police use. It’s easy enough to get some corrupt state official or PRI-affiliated thug (PRI is the Institutional Revolutionary Party, in its Spanish initials) to file a denunciation that firearms or other illegal possessions are in a particular location. Radio Universidad was calling for citizens to come to protect the university, with a great sense of urgency. A friend dropped me off a few blocks from the Cinco Señores intersection, which was blocked on all sides by the PFP. As usual, I was able to circle the blocked intersection on a few side streets, and soon was “inside” on Avenida Universidad in a mass of people, most facing north towards the lines of shield-equipped PFP troops.

      Many in the dense crowd were busy photographing and videotaping the then-still-peaceful confrontation, several of them perched atop a burned-out VW-bug. Some people on a raised platform with a loudspeaker were telling the troops that they were the same as the protestors and shouldn’t have been sent to


One of a series of speakers haranguing the PFP troops, their helmets and a few faces barely visible, near the north end of Avenida Universidad. Foto by G.S., no rights reserved.

Oaxaca. The PFP lines stood inert, as trained. Several older women in the crowd, right at the front, not more than a foot or two from the plastic shields facing them, forcefully told the troops right in front of them that they are citizens, without arms, capable of running their own lives, and the PFP should leave Oaxaca.

      By about 11:30 I started south. After the first barricade, which was north of university property, students were passing pieces of split wood through the barred fence from the university grounds to others on the street side with shopping carts. They use the wood for fires at the barricades. Suddenly an alert spread that an attack was imminent at the south end of Avenida Universidad, and people streamed past me, leaving, I supposed, a smaller crowd at the north intersection. The shopping carts barrelled by, along with people with cameras, many folks adjusting their bandanas getting ready for tear gas. Apparently the PFP, who had been massed at the Plaza del Valle end of the road, began advancing in a solid front, and the fireworks began. From the distance I saw clouds of smoke and/or gas and the wobbly arched paths of the home-made rockets launched towards the police, which left a trace of white smoke as they streaked across the space between the protestors and the PFP forces.

      When one of the projectiles hit the ground and burst into flame in front of the first line of troops a wave of adrenaline swept the protestors, many of whom ran forward and hurled rocks at the police. I’ve written a lot about the teachers and APPO maintaining a militant but non-violent struggle, which I remain concvinced is correct. But this was a different matter: this was people trying to protect their own turf from being invaded by lethally-armed forces, and there’s no way the attempted defense could be described as non-violent. Had the police been ordered to shoot, it could have been a massacre. All that can be said is that the imbalance of power was incomparably in favor of the police; had it been used, it would have been overwhelming.


Police troops approach a barricade, made in part by burned-trucks. Foto by G.S., no rights reserved.

      Most of the defenders were younger men. But not all. Their major weapon was a stream of rocks. I think that in addition to their homemade incendiary rockets they may also have had some molotov cocktails. As the police shot tear gas canisters and began a slow step-by-step advance, I headed back a ways and entered the university athletic fields, located on the west side of the avenida behind a fence, and then came forward again, close to but separated from the exchange. Not, however, separated from the tear gas by the chain-link fence. People were taking large rocks and smashing them against other rocks on the ground to break them up into sizes suitable for hurling a considerable distance. Their courage and determination not to yield to the PFP was incredible. I’ve never before seen anything close to it.

      Finally I decided to head back to make a report. Back on the Avenida some distance from the front line, I saw an older man picking up and “bowling” rocks to be used in the defense along the road towards the actual combatants. It brought back to mind, “Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition” from the time of WWII. I expected then that it would not be very long before the PFP got into the Ciudad Universidad and captured and silenced Radio Universidad. But I was wrong. Things were still at a standoff at the north intersection, and I made my way out by the same roundabout route I’d used earlier.

      Walking north along the periferal highway I saw many people both observing and putting up further barricades to block access to the intersection at Cinco Senores. Ten or a dozen men shoved a big heavy car from where it was parked to blockade the Periferico at the corner of Rayon, and then they practically lifted a VW-Bug that had been parked behind the first car and carried it around the corner to block the entry of Rayon into the Periferico. I thought about private property. There’s lots of destroyed property, and weighing against it in their minds, I know, lots of destroyed lives, which is why these valiant people are facing up to the ruling power structure.

      It’s 8:40 pm and Radio Universidad is still alive. Don’t know what will happen later tonight or tomorrow. It appears that the PFP were driven back. The Oaxaquenos really believe that Los pueblos unidos, jamas sera vencidos (The people united will never be defeated). I hope to hell they’re right.

—G.S. 8:45 pm Central Standard Time

All comments and criticisms are welcome.    <george.salzman@umb.edu>

If you want me to add or remove your name from my “large”
e-mail distribution list, please let me know.

*      *      *
Return to the Latest postings page
Return to the opening page of the Website

Last update of this page: 6 November 2006