Saturday night I got a ticket for parking in the wrong place in the Centro, so a bilingual friend in my apartment house generously accompanied me this morning to Santa Rosa on the outskirts of the city to pay my $15 fine and get my “placas” back. When you get a ticket in Oaxaca they take your license plate from the back of your car which forces you to pay your fine. There were no “no parking” signs or indicators. And none of the other cars, front and back, were issued a ticket. Hmmmm.
So I missed the Popular Guelaguetza that was held this morning in the Plaza de la Danza. Then about 10,000 protestors marched to the auditorium on Fortin Hill. Police, deployed in the area since Saturday, forced the protestors back when they tried to enter the auditorium and a bitter clash followed with teargas. A government employee told a friend in my apartment house that they were told that the protestors wanted to occupy the auditorium in anticipation of stopping the commercial Guelaguetza planned for the next two mondays.
The media has reported that someone (who?) tried to set fire to the nearby 4-star El Fortin Hotel and at least two buses and a water supply truck were set ablaze.
The movement originally wanted to stage the “Popular Guelaguetza” in the government-built auditorium on Fortin Hill. But a local expat reported that “this morning, Noticias printed the announcement that it would be held in the Plaza de la Danza, to prevent a blood bath from happening at Fortin Hill.
Witness: “I had trouble counting everyone, but my guess is that 30,000 people showed up at the Plaza, packed on stairs, sitting on rooftops and on trucks to watch.
However, another group decided to take the Fortin hill, where the stadium is housed. They were met naturally with police repression, and in the process two buses and several other vehicles were burned, and a giant hole is now in the side of a building near the corner of Crespo/Venus and Chapultepec.
I decided to make a trek up the Fortin to see what was going on. At the bottom of the stairs, replacing the card-playing riot police, tourists are now greeted by two overturned porta-potties, and the accompanying stench of sewage. Rocks are scattered at the bottom as well, and several small boulders block access to trucks that wanted to drive up the escalera. I found that the police had moved into the strategic position of blocking the tunnel leading to the stadium and the two staircases that lead to the lookout point.”
Another witness: “When I was up on the hill today (Monday)as far as the police blockade, people were saying that the delegations had been stopped on their way to the auditorium, by the back route of the carretera, at about Fortin Hotel, and those who had been climbing the hill (and it did not look to me as if anyone intended to attack, lots of women and older people) decided to head over to Niños Heroes. I got as far as Crespo when I saw fighting: there were police barricades and police launching tear gas. At the end of Crespo, on Niños Heroes, I could see fighting, and then the burning of one bus which was visible from Crespo. I think the fighters were largely young men and women, but not all.
By 12:30 the military vehicles were heading north, and people were running south. I also heard the ambulance siren; apparently several people were injured. They were running south on Joaquin Amaro also, I suppose also coming from Niños Heroes.”
UPDATE Wednesday July 18
The media has reported two people dead, several injured in the hospital and about 30 beaten and arrested.