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News :: Globalization : Human Rights : International : Labor : Organizing : Politics : Social Welfare : War and Militarism
Oaxaca at the crossroads
15 Oct 2006
If these [Mexico City] agreements are imposed, it would signify the surrender of the Oaxaca commune to the state forces, in accordance with the program of the most class collaborationist sectors of the APPO leadership and of Section 22 of the Teachers Union.
Oaxaca at the crossroads:
between the traps set by negotiations and the blackmail of state repression

by Martín Juárez
Thursday October 12, 2006
unofficial translation by Fred Bergen

After the struggle has gone on for many weeks, the regime is pressing for a solution to the conflict in Oaxaca. With the blackmail of repression, it is seeking to impose a negotiated settlement with the conciliatory sectors of the leadership of the Popular Assembly of the People of Oaxaca (APPO), putting this historic struggle at a crossroads. If the government of Vicente Fox hasn't yet chosen the option of violent repression (which would address his need to "clear the way" for a new Calderón government), it is because he was faced with a mass movement that was ready to fight back, which could lead to a general insurrection with unknown consequences at the state level, and repercussions in other states. It could also detonate a resurgence of the democratic movement against the electoral fraud. This is made even more possible now that the march [of members of the APPO] has reached Mexico City. In this context, a generalized repression would expose the PAN as oppressors and mass murderers, deepening the national crisis and the PAN government's troubles. The struggle of the valiant people of Oaxaca is still teaching important lessons about the class struggle at the national level.

On the other hand, Fox has so far held firm against the demand for [the governor of Oaxaca,] Ulises Ruiz [Ortiz] (URO) to "get out," since his fall could become an example for all the people of Mexico. This is why while certain sectors of the regime are calling for URO to step aside as a way to demobilize the movement, the primary political strategy is to weaken the Oaxaca commune without granting its demand for URO's fall. Keeping URO [a member of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI] in power lets Fox preserve the deals he has made with the PRI in Congress, which the government of Calderón needs to enjoy some degree of stability and carry out its plans against the people. This political alignment provides openings in the regime for the PRD [Party of Democratic Revolution] to position itself in the role of "opposition," at the same time as it backs the most collaborationist sectors of the APPO leadership, to contain the most radical sectors, so that the APPO can accept a "solution" within the guidelines of the state institutions. If the struggle continues while URO remains in power, the working people will pay dearly for the "offense" they have caused him.

The political strategy of the government is to impose a negotiated settlement that doesn't meet the movement's demands, and demobilizes the movement, while blackmailing Oaxaca with the threat of the entry of the PFP [Mexican Federal Police] and the army into Oaxaca. In a surprise move, sections of the leadership of the APPO and of section 22 of the CNTE (teachers union) accepted the "proposals" of the secretary of the Interior, agreeing to surrender Oaxaca to the "custody" of the city and state police at the negotiating table in Mexico City, and that URO's resignation would be postponed, to be discussed and decided at the joint session of Congress. As this edition went to press, the Senate committee on the interior was announcing the dispatch of a commission to Oaxaca, with the clear intent of pressing for an "institutional" solution. Clearly, this "solution" is a trap which doesn't even meet the demand for URO to resign. The APPO's negotiating committee in Mexico City agreed to submit what had already been rejected by the APPO's general assembly to the rank and file for discussion.

This agreement goes against the APPO's resolutions. The APPO rejected the proposal that "would include the dismissal of government functionaries, principally in the police department, [and would allow] the entry of the PFP into the city to take up guard duties, and accept a commission of members of civil society as part of a dialog with the Assembly [the APPO]" (Noticias de Oaxaca). Instead, the APPO ratified the demand for URO to step down. Moreover, the APPO's negotiating committee abused the "vote of confidence" which they sought from the APPO's general assembly last weekend, by which they were allowed to reach an agreement for later discussion with the rank and file. They completely contradicted the spirit of what Oaxaca is fighting for.

It remains to be seen what the response of the militant rank and file will be. So far, they have rejected, on various occasions, the proposals from certain sectors of the leadership to cal off the struggle with an unfavorable settlement. If these [Mexico City] agreements are imposed, it would signify the surrender of the Oaxaca commune to the state forces, in accordance with the program of the most class collaborationist sectors of the APPO leadership and of Section 22 of the Teachers Union.

A program for victory

In light of the danger that these actions [of the negotiating committee] entail, which could lead to the surrender of the movement, we of the LTS-CC are proposing a series of political measures for the success of the Oaxaca commune, which the organizations which call themselves socialist, together with the militant workers, youth, and women of Oaxaca, should bring to the APPO. First, faced with the threat of federal intervention, we believe that it necessary to organize a huge mega-march in Oaxaca to put a halt to all the threats of repression, demonstrating the will of the people of Oaxaca to defend their commune and face down the military incursions. We must organize a great state-wide general strike (something that the unions have not done yet), so that the power of the workers in electricity, health care, tourism, construction, and the rest of the industries, together with the teachers, will be the cutting edge of a death blow to URO's government.

The workers and poor people of Oaxaca, led by the APPO and the Oaxaca Women's Commission (COMO), can only trust their own forces to win their demands, and for this reason they must confront the trap and the maneuvers coming from the negotiating table. This is why the fight for URO's fall cannot stop here: the solution to the workers' and poor people's demands will not come to us at the hand of another bourgeois politician, nor from the "democratization" of the institutions of the rotten state regime. We must fight for the URO to leave, and aim to institute a Provisional Government of the APPO and the other worker, peasant, and poor people organizations of struggle, by means of which the workers and their allies of the city and the countryside should take power into their own hands, putting into action the idea of "storming the heavens". This workers' and poor people's government, instead of trusting the representatives of the capitalists and landlords to "democratize" their own institutions (like the Senate), must call together a revolutionary Constituent Assembly in which the great masses of people can discuss how to realize their most pressing demands.

As opposed to those who want to limit the struggle to a changing of the guard in the government, and to transform the APPO into another political party within the confines of the current regime, we think that in order to struggle for power for the exploited and oppressed people of the state, it is fundamentally important that the APPO, which now unites various different currents and leaderships in the unions, parties, social, neighborhood, and women's organizations, be transformed into an organization based on elected delegates in the communities, neighborhoods, and workplaces, with a mandate from and recallable by their constituents, in which all the steps to be taken should be decided on a democratic and fully informed basis. The APPO must democratically incorporate the workers of the entire state and representatives from the communities.

We believe that it is absolutely crucial for those who sustain in deeds the territorial power of the Commune, the barricades and self defense forces, those who make the "front line" that warded off the military-police occupation of the city, who draw their support from the power willingness to fight of rank-and-file militants, be represented with voice and vote in the APPO. It is necessary that the hundreds of barricades send their representatives to the APPO, and furthermore that a coordination be established that unites all the self-defense units, in which the steps to be taken can be decided democratically. Likewise, the organizations that have taken up armed struggle must put themselves at the service of the democratic organizations of self-defense and subordinate themselves to its decisions. These are fundamental measures for the defense of the Commune against an eventual attack, and to coordinate and centralize the self-defense units, with the goal of preparing a political general strike throughout the state, which would open the way to a real insurrection of the exploited and oppressed people and the establishment of a real workers' and poor people's government in Oaxaca.

It is most urgent that the unions (the SME [electrical workers], the UNT [a union federation tied to the PRD], and the CNTE [a teachers union]), as well as the organizations of the Other Campaign, immediately call for a nationwide strike in solidarity, and a huge mobilization in Mexico City and the other major cities, for a halt to the repression and the acceptance of the APPO's demands, as well as to begin to coordinate support for the APPO at a national level, putting all their political and material resources at its disposal.

The violent eviction of June 14, our political prisoners, the tortured and assassinated comrades, and the heroism of the masses at the barricades oblige us not to accept any solution that contradicts the central demands of the people of Oaxaca.

Long live the Oaxaca commune!
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