Oaxaca Still Unsettled

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The leftists were pushed back out of the main square in Oaxaca by Mexican forces, but are vowing to return. The government forces are holding the zocalo plaza using vehicles mounting water cannons. Everyday residents of the city have come out of hiding to thank the federal troops for freeing them from being held hostage by the protesters. Although some schools have reopened elsewhere in the area, none opening inside Oaxaca as of yet.

Teachers had promised to end their five-month strike for higher wages and go back to work Monday, but no students returned to classes in the tense capital.

On Sunday, federal police tore down protest blockades and pushed demonstrators out of the main square that had served as their home base for five months.

The colonial city, a favorite of tourists, more closely resembled a battleground early Monday, with streets littered with charred cars and lines of federal police blocking some entrances to the main zocalo plaza.

The city was deeply divided between protesters demanding Gov. Ulises Ruiz's resignation and those wanting a return to the tranquil days when foreign tourists browsed shops and dined on the region's famous mole sauce.

Ignoring protesters who screamed "Sellout!" a group of about 20 residents welcomed the police, touring streets and thanking authorities for taking control of the city.

"I don't want them to leave. Let them stay," Edith Mendoza, a 40-year-old housewife, said of the police. "We were held hostage for five months."

Before dawn Monday, federal police tore down the protesters' banners in the main square, mostly to wrap around themselves for warmth because they had been sent in without sleeping bags.

Riot police in body armor slept on sidewalks under the plaza's famous archways, rolled up against the chill night air in banners that once proclaimed people's power or demanded the resignation of the governor. Others sought warmth by burning bits of banners, wooden crates and other debris left behind by the protesters.

Interior Secretary Carlos Abascal said the federal forces would remain until order had been established and they were no longer needed.

Mark in Mexico is back up (his site was down for two days) and is playing catchup in getting his posting back up to speed. He has descriptions of much of what has gone on in Oaxaca in the past few days.

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