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The accomplishments of these civilizations included the domestication of many plants and animals including maize, beans, cacao, tomatoes, chili peppers, squash, pumpkin, and turkeys. Also available in the fertile region of Oaxaca were pineapples, avocados, zapotes, and maguey. In the south, the Pacific Ocean was an important food source. The civilizations built by these groups are reflected in important archaeological sites including Monte Albán, Mitla, Guiengola and Huijatzoo. Monte Albán was a great ceremonial center built on a flattened mountain top by the Zapotec people which reached its zenith between 600 and 900 AD The ancient Zapotec village of Teotitlán del Valle near the city of Oaxaca is one of the oldest human settlements in Mexico.
Main article: 2006 Oaxaca protests
In May 2006, a teachers strike, calling for higher wages, led to the occupation of many buildings and streets in Oaxaca's capital city. On June 14, the Oaxaca Teachers Union was evicted. By October, supporters of the strike, led by the Asamblea Popular de los Pueblos de Oaxaca (APPO), had grown to tens of thousands, calling for Oaxaca governor Ulises Ruíz Ortíz to resign. Demonstrators launched a widespread campaign of civil disobedience and took over the state-run television station. On October 27, 2006, paramilitary forces fired on a crowd of protesters, killing three: Esteban Zurrita and Emilio Alonso Fabian, locals involved in the demonstrations, and Brad Will, a U.S. independent journalist and activist who had been videotaping the protest.
On October 28, 2006, Mexican President Vicente Fox ordered riot police to regain control of the city. The following day, police and military forces used bulldozers, water cannons and tear gas to push back Oaxaca's citizens. Government forces seized Oaxaca's town hall by mid-afternoon. At least one more person was killed in the most recent violence, raising the total of persons killed to "more than a dozen". Early on November 2, Mexico's Day of the Dead holiday, the Federal Preventative Police tried to clear barricades surrounding the Autonomous University of Oaxaca Benito Juarez, which houses the radio station Radio Universidad, one of the last radio or television outlets still under the control of the APPO. A pitched battle ensued, during which police fired tear gas onto University grounds and dropped gas canisters from low-flying helicopters. The protesters hurled rocks and fireworks at police and set buses and vehicles on fire as impromptu barricades. After several hours, the police withdrew, having failed at least temporarily to gain control of the area surrounding the University or to take the radio station off the air. Subcomandante Marcos of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation also called for the resignation of Governor Ruíz.
APPO's occupation of Oaxaca ended on the night of November 25, 2006, when the Federal Preventative Police attacked again, this time making many arrests and clearing away APPO's last encampment, or planton, in front of Santo Domingo church. More than 20 buildings suffered fire damage, although it remains unclear who set the fires. Within a few days, activists handed the radio station of Oaxaca's Autonomous University back to the University, relinquishing what had become APPO's most effective rallying center. Many of those arrested by the PFP were sent to distant prisons. Many of them later alleged that they were tortured while in custody. Governor Ruiz remains in office. Oaxaca is also notable recently as being the site of the first death in the 2009 Swine Flu Outbreak.
During the subsequent months, civic leaders, Oaxaca's business community, and especially Oaxaca's tourism sector, have tried to bring Oaxaca back to its previous level of economic functioning. Starting in January, 2007, APPO has staged a series of marches. Until April, 2007, all these have been peaceful. On July 16, 2007, there was a clash between a large group of APPO supporters and government forces. The protesters claimed they were peacefully marching to the Guelaguetza Stadium when they were stopped by a larger contingent of local, state, federal and army forces, all in riot gear. Tear gas was visible over a mile away and there were burning city buses in the eastern road leading to the Stadium.