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Fox may use force to end Oaxaca protests

Laurence Iliff / Dallas Morning News | October 3 2006

MEXICO CITY - As Mexico marked the anniversary of a 1968 student massacre, President Vicente Fox warned Monday that force could be used to remove protesters in the southern state of Oaxaca if negotiations fail.

Military helicopters flew over Oaxaca City, the state capital, during the weekend, and members of leftist groups and striking teachers prepared Molotov cocktails and set up barricades in anticipation of police and military action.

The protesters, demanding the resignation of Gov. Ulises Ruiz, have held the city center for four months. Fox has pledged to resolve the conflict before leaving office Dec. 1.

Speaking at a meeting of the Inter American Press Association in Mexico City, Fox said enforcing the law could be the next step after weeks of talks, which resume Wednesday.

"As long as the possibility exists of an agreement, we are going to insist on that, that an agreement is reached and things are resolved in that way," Fox said.

"But if that doesn't happen, the transgression of the law must be stopped and must be punished."

Meanwhile, thousands of people gathered in Tlatelolco's Plaza of Three Cultures to commemorate the anniversary of the 1968 massacre, in which police and soldiers fired into a crowd of thousands.

The 1968 crackdown in Mexico City led to 40 deaths, according to the government, but democracy activists say that several times that number were actually killed.

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