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Oaxaca protesters give up seized radio station, but refuse talks

Oaxaca protesters give up seized radio station, but refuse talks

Leftist protesters and striking teachers ended their takeover of one Oaxaca radio station, but refused to attend government talks aimed at ending their four-month-long occupation of this colonial city's center.
In a rare show of progress in the standoff, protesters on Wednesday walked out of the offices of Radio Oro, a station they have held since late August. It was unclear whether they also intended to end their takeover of two other media outlets seized around the same time.
Protesters sometimes broadcast radical or threatening messages over the airwaves, but said they decided to give Radio Oro up because the station was no longer useful to them.
Also Wednesday, protest leaders told reporters they would not attend talks in Mexico City because they wanted 28 representatives at the meeting, instead of the four seats they said the Interior Department had offered.
"This is part of the federal government's policy to divide the movement," said Arturo Perez, a representative of the Oaxaca teacher's union. "We are prepared to continue with the struggle until we achieve our goals."
Protesters are demanding that Oaxaca Gov. Ulises Ruiz resign before they will consider negotiating any of their other demands, like pay raises for teachers.
The protesters told local media they had received another invitation from the government to continue talks on Thursday, but said they believe that government forces may soon try to retake the city.
Helicopters and military planes have flown over the protesters while thousands of state police have gathered outside the city.
Interior Secretary Carlos Abascal, the country's top security official, 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 attend the Mexico City talks.
Ruiz on Wednesday echoed previous calls for the federal government to send troops, saying, "The rule of law is not up for negotiation. Those who break the law should face the law."
Protest leader Soledad Ortiz said she believed that a military or police effort to end the protest was "imminent," adding, "repression ... is just around the corner."
The unrest has scared most tourists away from the city, which is normally popular for its colonial architecture and ancient pyramids. Business leaders put losses at more than US$300 million (euro235 million).
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.
"We are always sorry and dismayed to see violent episodes," said British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett, who was in the capital Wednesday for meetings with her Mexican counterpart. "We have a responsibility to warn our citizens about areas of concern."