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and the eve of the 100th anniversary of Beyond the weak mandate and political deadlock, Calderon must contend with an unprecedented spate of organized crime-related killings, particularly in his own home state of Michoacan. Most complex of all is “the problem” that Fox had vowed to solve before December 1the ongoing political, social, and economic crises in the southern state of Oaxaca, where decadesif not centuriesof pent-up social neglect have been inflamed by a troglodyte governor and a political system intent on criminalizing social dissent. One of the poorest states in Mexico, Oaxaca has more indigenous residents than any other state, with 16 different ethnic groups, a majority of municipalities that follow usos y costumbres \(loosely translated, the traditional sysand a significant indigenous movement firmly convinced that the laws, institutions, and practices of the current political regime do not meet the needs and aspirations of much of the population. For generations the state has exported its workers. NAFTA has further decimated the countryside, prompting an even greater exodus of Oaxacans. The region has a history of strong social movements and can point to three governors ousted in 60 years. The city of Oaxaca itself is one of Mexico’s great treasures, home to several of the country’s finest artists and photographers, filled with museums and galleries, street musicians and gifted artisans. For all its vibrancy, Oaxaca steadfastly remained in the hands of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, and a particularly anachronistic strain of the party at that. As a result, all state entitiesthe legislature, courts, even the state human rights commissionhave taken their cue from the governor. Uuses Ruiz became Oaxaca’s governor in December 2004, after the nation’s highest electoral court upheld what was widely considered a fraudulent election. Even in a state that had not been blessed with a spate of good governors, Ruiz was decidedly different. “Different because he was worse,” says Omar Angel Perez, a 30-year-old human rights activist from the Isthmus of Oaxaca who now lives in Austin. The new governor quickly set about destroying beloved city landmarks. He turned the government palace into a museum that could be rented out for private functions, initiated controversial and costly construction projects that benefited family and cronies, and targeted human rights activists and others, including journalists critical of his administration. In July 2005, the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists criticized the Oaxacan state government for orchestrating a blockade of the office of Noticias, a newspaper that had supported Ruiz’s opponent. Members of a pro-government union who did not work at the newspaper camped outside the building for several weeks, confining the paper’s employees to their office. Finally, a group of masked intrudersreportedly carrying sticks and pipesforced their way into the building, destroying computers and furniture and forcing the employees to leave. Officials from the state attorney general’s office were with the intruders, a Noticias reporter later told the CPJ. A flock of state police officers lingered outside. In September 2005, Perez met with Ruiz to talk about severe environmental problems in the isthmus, including contamination caused by Pemex, Mexico’s state-owned oil company. Ruiz was using a police quarters on the outskirts of the city as his office. “Never mind coming here and calling me a repressor,” the governor told him. “We still haven’t gone after youyet.” That all-or-nothing approach was on display during annual negotiations with the teacher’s union, a kind of Kabuki dance that for the past 26 years has brought thousands of teachers from throughout the state to the city of Oaxaca every May. Ruiz decided that the protests and downtown encampments damaged the city’s image and decided to stop them. At 4:30 on the morning of June 14, police entered the camp at the Zocalo, beating and kicking the sleeping teachers and their families, spraying them with teargas and pepper spray, demolishing the camps as a helicopter buzzed around and around the plaza, launching teargas canisters. The Oaxacan Human Rights Network later took testimony from witnesses and victims. A representative account: A helicopter began to fly around and the teachers, absolutely terrified, came running toward the door of the house to take shelter in the patio. About 60 teachers. Some of them had been gassed; they were given water, wet cloths and asked not to leave, but the helicopter saw that there were many companeros in the house and kept flying around and filming the whole area. With all that noise, my children couldn’t sleep. The gas got into some of the rooms, so I took the children to the patio to show them to the helicopterso that they could see that in this house there were children, families. So that somehow it would touch their hearts and they wouldn’t keep spraying those gases. “After that, the whole thing took a different direction,” says Emiliana Cruz, a doctoral student in linguistics at the University of Texas at Austin, who still owns a small caf in Oaxaca. In 1989, when she was eight, her father was murdered. He had been working on land rights and environmental issues for their community in the southern mountains of Oaxaca and was on his way to an indigenous rights forum in Mexico City. “My father was murdered by one of the wealthiest families,” she says. “There was never an investigation. That’s my case,” she says, matter-of-factly. But it’s one of many. Just days after the attack on the teachers, hundreds of indigenous rights and other organizations joined with the teachers to form the Asemblea Popular de Pueblos de Oaxaca, known as the APPO. Years of pent-up frustrations, the fervor of myriad causes, melded into a single chant: “Fuera Ulises!” “Out with Ulises!” The governor had spent much of the DECEMBER 15, 2006 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 17