After leftists and striking teachers reached a tentative agreement to scale back protests in Oaxaca, Mexico, hard-line elements sabotaged the deal and escalated the violence. Some government workers had been returning to their offices and had been trying to get the city stabilized. That is in jeopardy now as masked gunmen warn them to leave.
OAXACA, Mexico (Reuters) – Masked protesters hijacked buses and forced government workers from offices in the Mexican city of Oaxaca on Wednesday as violence reignited in the troubled tourist town.
Striking teachers and leftist activists occupied much of the colonial city four months ago, storming Congress and blocking hundreds of streets in an effort to oust state Gov. Ulises Ruiz.
Fears of violence before Mexican President-elect Felipe Calderon takes office in December had eased after protesters tentatively agreed this week to loosen their grip while a Senate commission studies whether Ruiz has lost control.
But gunmen shot at a group of about 100 masked protesters who roamed Oaxaca in hijacked public buses, demanding government workers who were trickling back to their offices go home.
A Reuters photographer saw a gunman firing a pistol at masked, fleeing protesters as a handful of people ran out of one government building. Protest leaders said one demonstrator was wounded by the gunfire.
News reports said teachers had postponed a planned return to classes pending a decision on Ruiz's future, and that a group of senators who planned to visit the city on a fact-finding mission on Wednesday had called off the trip.
A protester who declined to give his name displayed several bullet casings he had picked up in the street. "I hope the senators that visit us in Oaxaca see that things are out of control," he said.
I think the whole world can see that without a fact-finding trip. Obviously, someone is stirring this pot. The tentative peace deal indicated that many of the protesters were tired of the whole situation. A few radicals appear to have derailed the entire effort. It's time for the Mexican government to start identifying who is behind this. Someone is paying the bills and keeping up the violence. It will take years for Oaxaca to return to its former tourist destination status – if it ever does.
UPDATE: Adirondack Base Camp has a running updated post on the situation in Oaxaca. It isn't real pretty and may be spreading.