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Mexican leftists urge government not to crack down on protests

Mexican leftists urge government not to crack down on protests

Leftist lawmakers implored Mexico's government not to send soldiers or federal police to dislodge thousands of protesters in the southern city of Oaxaca, fearing the standoff could erupt in bloodshed.
In a tense confrontation in Congress on Tuesday, legislators from the Democratic Revolution Party waved placards and shouted at Interior Secretary Carlos Abascal not to move against the protesters who have built hundreds of barricades and stacked up piles of molotov cocktails.
"In the name of God, I ask that there be no repression in Oaxaca," said Rep. Othon Cuevas.
"Don't worry," Abascal replied. "In the name of God, there will be no repression."
Thousands of leftists, trade unionists, anarchists and students have camped out for months in the historic city demanding the resignation of state Gov. Ulises Ruiz, whom they accuse of rigging his 2004 election and sending groups of armed thugs against opponents.
Helicopters and military planes have flown over the protesters while thousands of state police have amassed outside the city.
Ruiz and Oaxacan business leaders have called on President Vicente Fox and his Interior Secretary Abascal to send in troops to clear out the protesters. The unrest has scared most tourists away from the city that is normally popular for its colonial architecture and ancient pyramids, costing more than US$300 million (euro235 million) in lost earnings, according to business groups.
Abascal has said he is seeking a political solution but warned the use of force could be a "last resort." He has called on all sides to meet for talks in Mexico City on Wednesday.
However, protest leaders said Tuesday that they would not sit at the same table with Ruiz and warned the government against sending troops.
"If the people of Oaxaca are repressed by federal forces, Vicente Fox will face justice," said Enrique Rueda, head of the Oaxaca teachers union.
The protest movement began with a teachers' strike and gained force in June after Ruiz tried to evict them, evolving into a broad movement calling for his resignation.
Clashes involving protesters, police and armed gangs have left two people dead, and both the U.S. and British embassies in Mexico have issued advisories warning their citizens about going to Oaxaca.
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Associated Press writer Rebecca Romero in Oaxaca contributed to this report.


Updated : 2021-05-12 13:08 GMT+08:00