Operation “Clean-Up” in Oaxaca

Following the CIA’s “Psychological Operations” Manual for the Nicaraguan Contras, the State Government Has Unleashed a Bloody Counterinsurgency Strategy to Eliminate the Social Movement

By Diego Enrique Osorno
Special to The Narco News Bulletin
August 28, 2006

OAXACA CITY: One of them, the one in a white cap, black shirt and denim pants, smiles like a child upon being discovered in the middle of the street with his machine gun.

He’s maybe 32 years old, with dark skin and a mustache just barely visible, his face sweaty despite the cool air of the early Oaxaca morning. Maybe it’s the bulletproof vest, maybe it’s his nervousness over being identified – who knows where his agitation comes from.

Opposite him, sitting on bed of the Ford pickup with no license plates, another man tried to hide his face, though it was already hidden behind a black hood. But the camera will inevitably give him away. He is the most nervous of the four men in this armed convoy. Even his AR-15 rifle trembles in his hands.

At 1:20 a.m. these four gunmen are on Heroica Escuela Naval Street, in the Reforma neighborhood of Oaxaca City, when Milenio photographer José Alberto Cruz captures them with his camera.

They are part of the armed convoy that the Oaxaca state government has sent to try to eliminate the dissident Popular Assembly of the People of Oaxaca (APPO in its Spanish initials) once and for all.

These armed civilians, as State Attorney General Lizbeth Caña Cadeza will later clarify, were in fact police officers who, she says, were carrying out a “clean-up” operation in the Oaxacan streets. But days later, the garbage continues to accumulate, piling up on the sidewalks.

The real result was a murdered dissident, Lorenzo San Pablo Cervantes, as well as several journalists who came under direct fire, including José Alberto Cruz, the author of these photographs that show the alleged police forces with which the government combats the popular, teacher-led uprising.

And so, what happened early in the morning of August 22 turned out not to be an isolated incident, but rather part of a government strategy to stop the growth of the Assembly, where more than 400 social and political organizations (including the teachers’ union) have come together to demand that Governor Ulises Ruíz, of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), resign.

In addition to hired gunmen, troops from the State Ministerial Police, the Federal Preventive Police and the local municipal police are all involved in implementing “Operation Clean-Up.” A Mexican Army deserter by the name of Aristeo López Martínez is, working out of a municipal office, one of the principal participants in this operation inspired by the “Psychological Operations in Guerrilla Warfare” manual, written by the CIA in the 1980s for the Nicaraguan “contras” in their war against the democratic government of that country.


en español… Operación “Limpieza” en Oaxaca

in italiano… Operazione “Pulizia” a Oaxaca