On July 16th in Oaxaca City, Oaxaca, a confrontation between the APPO (Popular Assembly of The Peoples of Oaxaca) and security forces of the State of Oaxaca as well as Federal Preventive Police has left at least one movement participant dead as a result of police violence, at least 62 detained, and an unknown number of people disappeared.
According to an APPO press statement released the same day, the police launched “a broad offense” against the people of Oaxaca who were celebrating an alternative Guelaguetza. The APPO announced two days previous that it would hold an alternative cultural festival in the main Guelaguetza auditorium, located in the Fortin Mountain outside of the city.
Federal Preventive Police and State police surrounded the perimeter of the Guelaguetza auditorium in order to prevent people from entering the festival. A caravan heading to the festival, tailed by 10,000 people, arrived to the auditorium, and in that moment the police attacked the crowd with tear gas, rocks, sticks, and explosive projectiles. People retreated, and the police advanced, beating and arresting people. Three photographers were reported to have been beaten. Countless others were tossed into the back of police pick up trucks with serious injuries.
For the moment the state and the municipal police continue a citywide operation in the streets of Oaxaca City, detaining people in the open. The military are reported to have surrounded the city on the highways.
Several people are reported to be in grave conditions, and police apparently apprehended injured festival participants and APPO supporters while they were transported by the red cross to receive medical attention.
There are reports that the detained are suffering torture and constant beatings at the hands of the state and federal police.
Emeterio Merino Cruz Vazquez, the one confirmed fatality from police violence, was killed from impact from a unidentified explosive projectile fired by police, which split his intestines open.
The alternative Guelaguetza was planned by the APPO in response to the government co-optation of the cultural festival that reflects indigenous tradition through dance. The movement charges that the festival has been made into a spectacle for tourists for years, and that the “official” Guelaguetza is an economic excursion on the part of multinational corporations and Ulises Ruiz, the state Governor targeted by the Oaxaca popular uprising. Last year, in actions against the official Guelaguetza, members.