Oaxaca Revolution in Progress

Moderators: DrVolin, 82_28, stillrobertpaulsen, Jeff

Re: Oaxaca Revolution in Progress

Postby Sepka » Sat Aug 26, 2006 12:42 am

isachar said: <!--EZCODE QUOTE START--><blockquote><strong><em>Quote:</em></strong><hr>Sepka, please don't take this wrong, but the ignorance behind that post is breath-taking. By your reasoning, Gandhi's (and King's) methods of non-violent resisitance would be a violation of the peace.<hr></blockquote><!--EZCODE QUOTE END--><br><br>No offense taken. If I were thin-skinned, I'd not be here.<br><br>King's argument was that everyone should be allowed to go about their daily business without hindrance or favour. If you want to ride the bus, if you want to eat at the lunch counter, if you want to drink from the fountain, no-one should be able to stop you. These people are doing the absolute opposite - they're preventing others from going about their daily business. <br><br>What gives them the right to decide who should be allowed to go to the bank, or who should be allowed to drive on a public road? If they want to go on strike, that should be their right. If they don't want to use the bank, or watch the TV station, that's their right. When they begin interfering with peaceful people trying to go about their honest business, blocking access to the bank, and taking over the TV stations, that's no longer peaceful behaviour.<br><br> <p>-Sepka the Space Weasel</p><i></i>
User avatar
Sepka
 
Posts: 1983
Joined: Fri Jul 08, 2005 2:56 pm
Blog: View Blog (0)

Re: Oaxaca Revolution in Progress

Postby isachar » Sat Aug 26, 2006 1:52 am

So, I guess you were against the 'Orange' revolution in Ukraine and the Memphis garbage workers strike, for example.<br><br>And most other forms of people power that have resulted in the relative peaceful removal of dictators and corrupt regimes from office since the fall of Marco's regime in the Phillipines.<br><br>Guess those 1.5 million Mexicans in Mexico City who are protesting their country's recent electoral fraud will also just have to shut up, go home and enjoy their country's proto-fascist non-elected government - just like 95% of all Americans have done here in response the the theft of the last two Presidential elections (Florida 2000, Ohio 2006).<br><br>For documentation on this fraud, please see the narconews reports on the recount of 9% of the precincts from PAN strongholds where (going from memory here) approx 15 votes on average of tallied/logged voters votes had disappeared from sealed ballot boxes and approx 50 votes on average votes were found to have been stuffed into the boxes that couldn't be reconciled with the tallies.<br><br>Nope, they should just all go home. Wouldn't want to disturbe or inconvenience anyone now.<br><br>BTW, the bank blockades that I witnessed were rolling. Not all banks/branches were blockaded and different banks/branches were blockaded on different days, so one could still conduct daily business. The last day I was there I took the main highway to Ocotlan (about 25 - 30 miles away). This highway goes past the main State Gov offices and was blockaded. All but a few cars/buses were able to bypass the blockade by going on a parallel road for about 1 mile before returning to the highway. This was true of other road blockages I observed as well.<br><br>Few societies have ever rid themselves of dictators through means that don't cause some disruption and inconvenience.<br><br>These actions have clearly caused economic harm to a number of people who can least afford it (and I'm not talking about CitibankBanamex, HSBC, etc). Despite this, I was struck by how many people I met and spoke with who were supportive of the protestors goals, if not their means.<br><br>Of course, if the Gov had chosen to negotiate originally (which he refused) and not sent in 3,000 police wielding truncheons, weapons and tear gas, and have killed 6-12 people (reports vary) and injured dozens of others, and to escalate the situation at every opportunity, things would certainly have been different. It has been these actions that turned an annual 2-4 week teacher's strike into a massive people's uprising. <p></p><i>Edited by: <A HREF=http://p216.ezboard.com/brigorousintuition.showUserPublicProfile?gid=isachar>isachar</A> at: 8/25/06 11:55 pm<br></i>
isachar
 
Posts: 950
Joined: Thu Nov 03, 2005 2:23 pm
Blog: View Blog (0)

Re: Oaxaca Revolution in Progress

Postby Gouda » Sat Aug 26, 2006 5:56 am

<!--EZCODE IMAGE START--><img src="http://www.inthesetimes.com/images/30/09/oaxaca.jpg" style="border:0;"/><!--EZCODE IMAGE END--><br><br>"Teacher Rebellion in Oaxaca"<br>By John Gibler | Oaxaca de Juarez, Mexico<br><!--EZCODE LINK START--><a href="http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=20&ItemID=10769">www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=20&ItemID=10769</a><!--EZCODE LINK END--><!--EZCODE LINK START--><a href="http://www.inthesetimes.com/site/main/article/2795/">www.inthesetimes.com/site/main/article/2795/</a><!--EZCODE LINK END--><br><br>***<br><br>"Photos taken by George Salzman showing the aftermath of the armed attack on Channel 9 in Oaxaca":<br><br><!--EZCODE LINK START--><a href="http://indybay.org/newsitems/2006/08/22/18299868.php">indybay.org/newsitems/2006/08/22/18299868.php</a><!--EZCODE LINK END--><br><br>"Terror continues in Oaxaca"<br><br><!--EZCODE LINK START--><a href="http://indybay.org/newsitems/2006/08/23/18300044.php">indybay.org/newsitems/2006/08/23/18300044.php</a><!--EZCODE LINK END--><br><br><!--EZCODE QUOTE START--><blockquote><strong><em>Quote:</em></strong><hr>City and state police agents, dressed in black wearing masks, traveled throughout the city early Tuesday morning in a caravan of motorcycles and pick-up trucks. The convoy of 34 vehicles joined up at about twenty minutes after midnight Tuesday morning and opened fire on security watchposts from their moving vehicles. As the caravan passed the station of the recently taken radio La Ley 710, teacher Lorenzo San Pablo Cervantes received bullet wounds to the back. He was taken to the hospital and later died.<hr></blockquote><!--EZCODE QUOTE END--><br><br><!--EZCODE LINK START--><a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2eDM-Jo7xnE">Video 1</a><!--EZCODE LINK END--><br><br><br><!--EZCODE IMAGE START--><img src="http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2006/08/23/portada.jpg" style="border:0;"/><!--EZCODE IMAGE END--><br><br><!--EZCODE QUOTE START--><blockquote><strong><em>Quote:</em></strong><hr>Urgent take action: Organize a protest at your local Mexican consulate or contact the below responsible individuals and let them know the whole world is watching: Ulises Ruiz Gobernador del Estado de Oaxaca.: gobernador@oaxaca.gob.mx Jorge Franco Vargas: Secretario de Gobierno del Estado de Oaxaca: Tel. (951)5153175, 5157490: sriagral@oaxaca.gob.mx, sriagral2@oaxaca.gob.mx Jaime Mario Pérez Jiménez, Comisión Estatal de Derechos Humanos de Oaxaca, quejas@cedhoax.org Tel. 044 951 104 43 06 o envÃe un mensaje al: 512 90 20 clave 956, Fax: (951) 5135185, 5135191, 5135197, correo@cedhoax.org Presidente: Vicente Fox Quesada email: vicente.fox.quesada@presidencia.gob.mx radio@presidencia.gob.mx webadmon@op.presidencia.gob.mx Telefonos (55) 50911100 y (55)151794 Secretario de gobernación: Carlos Abascal Carranza. Teléfono (00 52) 5 55 546 Email segob@rtn.net.mx Procurador General de la República: Cabeza de Vaca. Telefono (00 53) 4 60 904 Email: ofproc@pgr.gob.mx<hr></blockquote><!--EZCODE QUOTE END--><br><br><!--EZCODE IMAGE START--><img src="http://www.zmag.org/lam/aug16_2006gibler2.jpg" style="border:0;"/><!--EZCODE IMAGE END--><br><br>"400,000 March In Oaxaca Against Government Oppression"<br><br><!--EZCODE LINK START--><a href="http://indybay.org/newsitems/2006/06/18/18281270.php">indybay.org/newsitems/2006/06/18/18281270.php</a><!--EZCODE LINK END--><br><br><!--EZCODE IMAGE START--><img src="http://indybay.org/uploads/2006/06/18/005n1pol-1.jpg" style="border:0;"/><!--EZCODE IMAGE END--><br><br>"People of Oaxaca Under Attack as Their TV Station is Destroyed"<br><br><!--EZCODE LINK START--><a href="http://www.indymedia.org/en/index.shtml">www.indymedia.org/en/index.shtml</a><!--EZCODE LINK END--><br><br><!--EZCODE LINK START--><a href="http://mexico.indymedia.org/">mexico.indymedia.org/</a><!--EZCODE LINK END--> <p></p><i></i>
User avatar
Gouda
 
Posts: 3009
Joined: Tue Sep 13, 2005 1:53 am
Location: a circular mould
Blog: View Blog (0)

Re: Oaxaca Revolution in Progress

Postby Gouda » Sat Aug 26, 2006 6:07 am

isachar, can you post any photos? <p></p><i></i>
User avatar
Gouda
 
Posts: 3009
Joined: Tue Sep 13, 2005 1:53 am
Location: a circular mould
Blog: View Blog (0)

Oaxaca

Postby shaver » Sat Aug 26, 2006 1:51 pm

My brother's current work crew consists of 4 guys originally from Oaxaca (Free and Sovereign State of Oaxaca). They are a very proud people with a severe distaste for anything originating from Mexico City. My brother says they won't even look at other immigrants in the US from other Mexican states in the eye. Reminds me in a way of my friends in the Basque Country and their distaste for Madrid and their feeling of superiority to other parts of Spain. <br><br>They're not really happy with all the gringo tourists down there either. Haven't gotten the details on why that is though. <br><br><br> <p></p><i></i>
shaver
 
Posts: 11
Joined: Wed Oct 12, 2005 10:08 am
Blog: View Blog (0)

Re: Oaxaca

Postby isachar » Mon Aug 28, 2006 9:59 pm

Recent article that goes beyond the simplistic and erroneous 'leftists causing trouble' in Oaxaca meme much of the MSM follow in reporting on the unfolding events there:<br><br><!--EZCODE AUTOLINK START--><a href="http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar/Layout/Article_Type1&c=Article&cid=1156630230621&call_pageid=968332188854&col=968350060724">www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs...8350060724</a><!--EZCODE AUTOLINK END--><br><br>Navigating the politics of populist upheaval<br>Analysis | Consider Oaxaca, where a crooked governor won't pay off unions, teachers take over the capital, partisans burn buses and police shoot up barricades <br><br><br>Aug. 27, 2006. 01:00 AM<br>ARNO KOPECKY<br>SPECIAL TO THE STAR OAXACA DE JUAREZ, MEXICO<br><br><br>Mexico today, like much of Latin America, is caught between parallel realities. The country is trying to decide whether the populist in their midst is a saviour or just a sore loser. <br><br>Is Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, runner-up by 0.6 per cent of the vote in last month's presidential election, the noble victim of electoral fraud? Or is he no more than a nice-seeming thug with a credulous legion of peasants at his back? <br><br>It depends on which paper you read. What's certain is that he and his supporters have laid siege to Mexico City's famous zocalo, or main plaza, grinding business to a crawl in one of the world's largest city centres. Lopez Obrador is saying: Trust me, they cheated. Just give me a hand recount of those 41 million votes and you'll see.<br><br>The results of the partial recount granted him so far are already in dispute. Conservative Felipe Calderon, the nascent victor, claims they consolidate his win. There were but a handful of inconsistencies, he says. But Lopez Obrador asserts that this handful adds up to fraud, and is enough to change the result. The federal tribunal put in charge of the mess has yet to pronounce its conclusion. Once it does, Mexico's Supreme Court will make a final decision: a full recount, a new election or Calderon sworn in as president.<br><br><br>The court has until Sept. 6 to think about it, and until then there's little to do but wait. Unless, that is, you belong to that other populist uprising in Mexico. You know — the one that's stormed the other zocalo in the other capital, thanks to the other disputed election. The one in Oaxaca.<br><br>The governor<br><br>With 3.5 million people and 17 indigenous groups spread across arid mountains, lowland jungle and a mangrove-studded coastline, the state of Oaxaca occupies Mexico's southwest horizon. It is among the most diverse and beautiful of the country's 31 states. It is also one of its poorest. Despite abundant natural resources, it has one of Mexico's lowest minimum wages — approximately $5 a day — and a child mortality rate five times higher than Canada's. More women die during childbirth in Oaxaca than anywhere else in the country. Illiteracy here is twice the national average.<br><br>The romantic state capital, Oaxaca de Juarez, hides such realities beneath its well-maintained colonial architecture and a thriving arts scene. Tourists love it here. But operating just beneath the bustling surface is one of the more corrupt regimes in the country. <br><br>I caught my first glimpse of that corruption two years ago, when I came to work for a local daily. The governor, Jose Murat, was caught staging an assassination attempt on himself. He was trying to garner sympathy for his party in the face of an impending election. <br><br>Murat passed the torch to Ulisses Ruiz, whose campaign seemed poised for defeat until computers crashed halfway through the vote count. When the system came back up, the competition found itself in second place and Ruiz on top.<br><br>Another demonstration of Oaxaca-style politics is the annual teachers' strike. Each May for 26 years now, the teachers' union has obliged thousands of members from across the state to camp out in the capital's main square, ostensibly to demand better working conditions. They descend on the city's charmed streets with tarps and graffiti, filling the historic downtown core with overflowing port-a-potties and piles of uncollected garbage. <br><br>This yearly influx alienates a huge share of local citizens — interrupting transit, service deliveries and tourism dollars, to say nothing of leaving a million or so children idle. After two or three weeks, the state government would strategically pay off a few union leaders, and everyone would go home.<br><br>This year, however, the governor tried a different tack. In the pre-dawn hours of June 14, three weeks into the strike, Ruiz sent in the riot police. Instead of running for the hills, however, the teachers dug in their heels. They also turned on their camcorders. <br><br>You can now buy the DVD in the same zocalo where the action occurred, and see for yourself how police fired tear gas from helicopters at sleepy men, women and children. What began as a yearly annoyance suddenly became something much, much bigger.<br><br>The people<br><br>Two months later, Ruiz has a lot more to worry about than a petulant union. The teachers are now but a part of the Popular Assembly of the People of Oaxaca (APPO, in its Spanish acronym), a broad coalition representing dozens of unions, indigenous groups, aid organizations and municipalities. Shortly after the June 14 debacle, a series of "mega-marches" convulsed Oaxaca de Juarez; the last and biggest stretched 15 kilometres and was estimated to involve 500,000 people. The protestors' unconditional demand was no longer a wage hike, but rather the removal of Ruiz from office. They've already kicked him out of the city. <br><br>Today, Oaxaca de Juarez is in a balanced state of anarchy. City hall has been seized; the APPO flag is flying from the roof. Shifting street barricades force commuters to constantly find a new route to work, and every few days the protestors seal Oaxaca off from the rest of the country by parking buses on the major highways and setting them on fire. Nine of the city's radio stations have been hijacked — walk through the city and you'll hear amateur, revolution-minded broadcasts coming from corner shops, mom-and-pop restaurants and park benches. Sales of mini-radios are booming in the markets. <br><br>Still, it's a long way from Beirut. By day, things almost seem normal. Traffic moves on most of the streets; couples kiss in most of the parks. <br><br>Tourists can still be found in the cafe's and galleries. They look a little stunned, but they're fine. Some two-thirds of the businesses in the city centre remain open, and the artisans and beggars who come down from the mountain villages still tug your sleeves as you walk by. <br><br>But at night, things get spooky. Street fires are everywhere. Armed groups of men —and women, too — stand guard around the blazes and at most intersections, clutching makeshift weapons — usually big sticks, sometimes poles or fragments of aluminum siding. Night is when the radios really come into play.<br><br>The government has been sending in nocturnal police squads to retake parts of the city, and each night you can tune in to find out where the action is. "Citizens, we need your help! They're attacking us at Colonia Reforma!" Even without a radio, however, you can tell when there's been an attack by the fireworks and church bells that sound the alarm. <br><br>The situation has escalated in recent days, but so far the government's only accomplishment has been to destroy a radio tower. In the process of changing nothing, however, the night squads have managed to kill two people, one of them shot four times in the back.<br><br>The other version<br><br>While all but the most partisan observers know what to think of Ruiz, APPO's true nature remains debatable. One hopes it is a grassroots uprising with nothing more than justice on its mind. But as Jose-Luis Quintana, director of the Oaxacan daily El Imparcial, reminded me recently: "Mexican politics are dirty. You can't trust anyone." <br><br>We were standing on the balcony of the graphic design studio to which El Imparcial has fled — all three papers in town have decamped to secret locations in fear of being hijacked. <br><br>"The People's Assembly is not the spontaneous, popular uprising it makes itself out to be," Quintana went on, explaining that when Ruiz took office, he dispensed with his predecessor's habit of paying off the unions and kept the money in party coffers. Confronted with a cheapskate, union leaders got together with the teachers and agreed to seize the first opportunity for revenge. On June 14, when troops entered the zocalo, Ruiz gave it to them on a silver platter. <br><br>The thousands of people who have spent three months on the streets may well believe they're fighting for their rights, Quintana declared, but they are little more than pawns in a Mexican chess game. <br><br>"Don't get me wrong," he said, leaning close as though the governor might be eavesdropping. "Ruiz truly is a son of a bitch. But the assembly's no better." <br><br>The trust test<br><br>Who to believe? The question — not just in Oaxaca, but in all Mexico, throughout Latin America and indeed much of the world today — comes down to this: When can you trust a populist? <br><br>In the absence of a lie detector, we can only resort to precedent. There's no lack of populists to choose from; a cursory look at why we trust some more than others reveals some useful guidelines.<br><br>Do they advocate violence, for example? By most standards, this is grounds for dismissal. It is the principal reason neither Hezbollah nor Hamas gets much sympathy from the West.<br><br>The clarity and logic of the movement's goals are worth examining, too. When Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declares that Israel must be wiped off the map, we can reasonably suspect him of ignoring the facts on the ground. A leadership whose rhetoric favours emotion over logic ought to be considered suspect. Finally, the social context of the movement deserves a once-over. Is the system truly broke and in need of fixing? Given that popular uprisings tend to involve a fair amount of social upheaval, (come visit Oaxaca and see for yourself), it better be.<br><br>The `delinquents' <br><br>I met Flavio Sosa, one of the APPO's leaders and its principal spokesman, a few days ago on a hot afternoon in the zocalo. He hadn't left the spot for days because a website posted his picture and home address, along with those of several other APPO leaders. The site describes them as "delinquents" and exhorts the good citizens of Oaxaca to "detain them wherever you see them or get them in their homes." One of the faces is that of a teacher shot dead this month; it has a red X scrawled over it.<br><br>I asked Sosa what his response was to those citizens who were tired of the chaos and wanted to get back to work. <br><br>"That is a legitimate request," he replied, leaning back in his chair. He was wearing black jeans and a wrinkled T-shirt, and yawned throughout the interview. He hadn't been getting much sleep. <br><br>"But there are towns all over Oaxaca that suffer from hunger, where children die of curable diseases like diarrhea, and women die in childbirth. Towns with no electricity or running water — let alone potable water. So, I would say that if people in the capital have the right to ask for their businesses to open up again, to make lots of money, so do we have the right to ask for a better life." <br><br>I asked further what he thought would become of the Popular Assembly should it achieve its goal of kicking out the governor. <br><br>"It's too early to tell what APPO even is, let alone what it might become," he replied. "APPO may be a tool that lets communities take power; it might be a citizens' parliament; it might simply be an important experience in a chapter of state history."<br><br>We chatted for over half an hour in the shade of a laurel tree, and the longer we spoke the harder it was to believe that the man before me was on the take.<br><br>Perhaps I'm being naïve. This being Mexico, it's impossible to discount the possibility that some political conniving is going on behind the closed APPO doors. If Sosa isn't cashing in, the argument would go, then someone else is. <br><br>Perhaps one of the most damaging legacies of state corruption is the cynicism it breeds in the citizenry. Sadly, in Mexico, the cynics are often correct.<br><br>But if a few rotten streaks exist in the assembly — and they probably do — there remain some good reasons to give it the benefit of the doubt. Despite having sustained several armed attacks that resulted in murder, for example, the protestors have yet to shoot back. <br><br>Their leaders issue daily reminders that this is a peaceful movement. As well, this is unquestionably a healthy cross-section of society — doctors and engineers belong to APPO, too — and not everyone in it is a sucker. <br><br>History demonstrates that revolutions tend to turn the oppressed into tyrants. Whoever comes out on top in the struggles now taking place in Mexico, they will need to be watched.<br><br>But in what democracy is this not true? Watchfulness is the mechanism by which democracies keep themselves healthy.<br><br><br>--------------------------------------------------------------------------------<br>Arno Kopecky is a former Oaxaca newspaper reporter who has returned to Mexico to cover fallout from last month's disputed elections. <p></p><i></i>
isachar
 
Posts: 950
Joined: Thu Nov 03, 2005 2:23 pm
Blog: View Blog (0)

Re: Oaxaca

Postby isachar » Thu Aug 31, 2006 11:37 am

Excellent history/update on situation in Oaxaca:<br><br>August 30, 2006<br><br>From Teachers' Strike Towards Dual Power<br>The Revolutionary Surge in Oaxaca<br>By GEORGE SALZMAN<br><br>Oaxaca, Mexico.<br><br>Oaxaca shares, with Chiapas and Guerrero, the distinction of being the one of the three poorest states of Mexico. These three bastions of extreme poverty, albeit among the richest states of Mexico in natural resources, lie along the Pacific coastline in southeastern Mexico. Oaxaca is flanked to its east by Chiapas and to its west by Guerrero. Its population, about 3.5 million (2003 estimate), is unique among Mexican states in containing the largest fraction, 2/3, and the largest absolute number of people with indigenous ancestry.<br><br>Which of the 31 states holds top place for corruption would probably be impossible to measure in this intensely contested Mexican arena, as highlighted in the fraudulent July 2, 2006 presidential election, but for sure Oaxaca merits high placement on the corruption scale. Unsurprisingly, the overwhelming majority of the indigenous population is among the most impoverished. Naturally they are very sympathetic to the struggles of indigenous peoples in other parts of Mexico to better their lives, such as the attempts of the Zapatista base support communities in Chiapas, that have declared themselves "in rebellion" and asserted their autonomy, often at great cost due to state and federal efforts to crush them.<br><br>The 70,000 or so teachers in the state educational institutions, state employees, are, by Oaxaca standards, far from poor. They are part of the state's "middle class". So it's not as though the majority of poor people are usually very sympathetic. This quarter-century-long tradition of a Oaxaca teachers' strike each May never before was much more than a nuisance for the city business people, for a week or so, until the union and the state government negotiated a settlement, the teachers ended their occupation of the city center and returned to their homes throughout the state. <br><br>Why was this year so different? <br><br>It will come as no surprise to los Americanos that in Mexico, as in the U.S., there are 'conpany unions'. But here, south of the border, the 'company' is the ruling party of the federal government, a big 'company' indeed. The National Union of Educational Workers (El Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores Educativo, SNTE) is a very large and powerful union, hierarchical in structure. For over 70 years the SNTE had been in bed with the government of the ruling party, the Revolutionary Institutional Party, El Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI). In fact, until recently, the General Secretary of SNTE, Elba Esther Gordillo, was second from the top of the PRI leadership, just below Roberto Madrazo. <br><br>Section 22 of SNTE is the Oaxaca part of the National Teachers Union. Among Mexican teachers there is another formation, the National Educational Workers Coordinating Committee (Comité Coordinador Nacional de Trabajadores Educativo CNTE). In Oaxaca the CNTE, whose members belong to SNTE Section 22, play a leading role in setting Section 22 policy. Section 22 has long been regarded as one of the most militant, independent sections of SNTE. <br><br>On May 15, National Teachers' Day in Oaxaca, the leadership of Section 22 of SNTE declared that if their negotiations with the state government did not progress, they would initiate a state-wide strike the following week. The teachers were demanding an upgrade in the zonification of Oaxaca, which would increase the federally-designated minimum wage for the state. The "logic" (i.e. rationalization) of the federal government for having lower legal minimum wages in poor states like Oaxaca is apparently that it's cheaper to live in a more impoverished region than in one with a higher average income. Such an upgrade of Oaxaca would affect waged workers in Oaxaca who are paid the minimum wage, but would not affect those paid above the minimum, like the teachers. For themselves the teachers demanded a salary increase. Their other demands involved improved school facilities and meeting students' needs. Much of the money supposedly budgeted for education is siphoned off by corrupt officials. There is no accountability, a process not even legally required in Oaxaca and no bookkeeping.<br><br>Negotiations from the 15th to the 22nd between the union and the state, instead of moving towards a compromise agreement, became even more acrimonious. Beginning May 22, a large group of teachers, other education workers, family members, allied individuals and members of allied organizations, numbering perhaps between 35,000 and 60,000 (hard numbers are impossible to know) occupied the center of Oaxaca City - the large central park (the zócalo) and some 56 blocks surrounding it - with their encampment. Local business, hotel and restaurant owners were, by and large, critical because of financial losses caused by the disruption. Quite normal. The ritual of an annual teachers' strike was by now about a quarter century old. But never before had it been so large, so prolonged. Even now, no end is in sight. <br><br>During a period of barely three and a half weeks, May 22 to June 14, the strength of the teachers' opposition to Governor Ulises Ruíz Ortíz continued to grow, with additional adherents nursing their own grievances against the dictatorial regime allying with the formidable SNTE contingent. Frequent marches, and two mega-marches, the first on Friday June 2 with between 50,000 and 100,000 (the police and SNTE estimates, respectively), and the second on Wednesday, June 7, with 120,000 brought to the city demonstrations of size and vehemence never before seen here. I watched the June 7 march from the parapet on the north side of the Plaza de Danza as endless mockery of Ulises Ruíz paraded past, demanding boisterously that he leave the governorship. Undoubtedly there were state spies in civilian clothes with cameras, cell phones, video cameras and tape recorders, but no one seemed in the least intimidated or cautious. The entire event was permeated with a sense of peoples power.<br><br>On June 14, when Ulises unexpectedly ordered state police to carry out a surprise early pre-dawn attack on the sleeping teachers (many of them women with their children), destroying their tents and other camping gear and firing tear gas and bullets, even using a police helicopter that sprayed tear gas on the campers, to drive them out of the city center, he ignited a mass uprising throughout the state and beyond. The teachers fought back, drove out the police after about four hours, recapturing the city center and gaining admiration throughout the state for their gritty determination not to be terrorized into submission.<br><br>In his year and a half in office since December 1, 2005, Ulises had succeeded in generating a powder keg of hatred across the state towards him because of his tyrannical rule. This included his overt attempt to destroy the state's largest-circulation daily newspaper, Noticias de Oaxaca , his destruction of much-loved parts of the capital city's world-famous cultural patrimony, numerous killings by armed thugs tied to the ruling party, in communities struggling against corrupt and oppressive state-appointed municipal administrations. In sum, it was his attempt to rule by "excessively overt" terror, including kidnappings, jailings on baseless charges, torture, and death, and always impunity for the state thugs terrorizing the people, that turned the population en masse against him.<br><br>Moreover, history was against him. Fresh in peoples' memory was the sadistic early May attack in San Salvador Atenco in Mexico State by federal, state and municipal police, and the outrage against the authorities then - incarceration and worse for the victims, impunity for the perpetrators. There was a pervasive sense that in such a society, everyone is a "political prisoner unto death". A multitude of civic organizations in, and outside of, Oaxaca swarmed to declare their solidarity with the teachers. Immediately after the attack the teachers announced, and two days later led a huge march, their third mega-march, with 400,000, that included many new adherents. They all demanded URO's resignation or removal from office.<br><br>The show of strength quickly led to formation of a statewide assembly that termed itself the Popular Assembly of the People of Oaxaca, Asemblea Popular del Pueblo de Oaxaca .. Though instigated as a result of the teachers' initiative and the ugly state repression, the assembly went far beyond the teachers' original demands, which had been limited to educational matters. Ousting a hated governor had been done before on three occasions in Oaxaca. Not trivial, risky of course, but not by itself a revolutionary act.<br><br>APPO is established, sets revolutionary goals <br><br>In addition to the immediate third mega-march on June 16 (two days after the assault), the popular movement of teachers and other members of civil society held the first state-wide popular assembly the following day, just three days after the attack of June 14. In this precedent-breaking assembly meeting, the Popular Assembly of the People of Oaxaca ( (APPO, by its initials in Spanish) adopted a truly revolutionary program by declaring itself the supreme authority in Oaxaca, and asserting the illegitimacy of the entire political structure, which had ruthlessly run Oaxaca as a PRI-terrorist-controlled state for nearly 80 years.<br><br>APPO's deliberately broad representation evidently excluded any explicitly political groups, i.e. it was to be a "non-political" formation, truly a peoples' government. As Nancy Davies wrote in her report, "Popular Assembly to Oppose the State Government", its initial meeting on June 17 "was attended by 170 people representing 85 organizations." Included, or at least invited, "were all the SNTE delegates, union members, social and political organizations, non-governmental organizations, collectives, human rights organizations, parents, tenant farmers, municipalities, and citizens of the entire state of Oaxaca." Its intention was to be open to all the citizens of the state. There was no attempt, so far as I know, to exclude wealthy people from the assembly. Naturally, most very rich people who saw their interests served by the URO regime would not want to be involved in an effort to remove him and the rest of the governing apparatus, but wealthy 'mavericks' who rejected social injustice were evidently welcome. The only 'absolute requirement' for participation was agreement that Ulises must go.<br><br>Flimsy barriers such as those that had not prevented the police assault of June 14 were clearly inadequate. APPO adherents went about establishing stronger barricades against future invasions. They began commandeering buses, some commercial, as well as police and other government vehicles, using some of them to block access roads to the zócalo and other APPO encampments. Other of the commandeered vehicles they used for transportation.<br><br>APPO's major strategy for bringing pressure to bear on the government, in order to force either URO's resignation or his legal removal, has been to literally prevent the institutional government from carrying out its functions: legislative, judicial and executive (i.e. administrative). The tactic deserves to be called aggressive civil disobedience, meaning that APPO adherents carry out their forceful "illegal" actions as civilians (unarmed, i.e. no firearms). Some of them have poles, iron rods, and even machetes, but these are for self-defense. The culture here is not one of 'turning the other cheek'. They don't sit down and pray if police attempt to beat them. They have blocked highways, occupied government buildings and made a good many tourists and potential tourists reconsider Oaxaca as a desirable destination, thereby shaking the economy<br><br>As for 'winning the hearts and minds' of Oaxaqueños, the 'hearts' part of the task has been in large part already accomplished, thanks to the arrogance and aggressiveness of URO - the hatred he managed to sow since taking office as governor on December 1, 2004 and which he's now reaping. Even people who are not thrilled with APPO are so disgusted with URO that they are more likely to be passive rather than actively opposing APPO by supporting the governor.<br><br>Winning minds, as APPO well knows, is essential. They have made that a major part of their work. The government and its corporate allies fully realize the importance of what people think. The media of communication are therefore a prime arena in the contest to influence peoples' consciousness.<br><br>The fight for the communication media<br><br>The very first action of the state forces in their pre-dawn attack on June 14 was to destroy the teachers' radio station, Radio Plantón. It had been serving not only as a source of pro-teacher propaganda since the start of the strike, but as a vital communication link broadcasting (within its limited range) 24 hours a day. Soon after the Radio Plantón equipment was smashed, students at the Benito Juarez Autonomous University of Oaxaca (UABJO in its Spanish initials) seized the university's station, a licensed station with a much more powerful transmitter, and kept it going non-stop in support of the then rapidly-growing rebellion. The student-operated UABJO station was attacked several times, first on June 22, and eventually put out of commission after a diversionary tactic the night of August 8 enabled three people who had earlier infiltrated the movement to enter and throw sulphuric acid on the equipment, ending, at least for a time, those broadcasts.<br><br>Revolutions are not, by their nature, tidy affairs. There is no simple chronology according to which, at certain key dates, one important group of actors halts its activity and a different group takes the stage. Rather, a multitude of groups fills the stage at any given time, and the flow of activity is continuous - no separation of the actions marked by curtain calls. Thus it may be a questionable effort to try to divide the flow into phases. While the attack of June 14 did clearly mark a separation of events into two different phases, the ensuing struggle has been, and will likely be a continuous flow. Nevertheless, the action of the women who seized the state television and radio stations on August 1 so powerfully upped the ante in the struggle to control the communication media that I will say that act initiated a third phase of the struggle.<br><br>On July 1, [note by Isachar, I think this date is a typo, and should be on or about August 1] the day before participants in La marcha de las caserolas (the march of women beating their pots and pans with wooden spoons) went on to seize the state TV and radio stations, only Radio Universidad was broadcasting for the popular movement. By then it had been on the air daily for almost of seven weeks. It was to continue for another 8 days until the sulphuric acid attack shut it down. But by then Channel 9, TV Caserolas as some folks dubbed it, had been broadcasting 8 days.<br><br>The move to seize, or as a graffiti on the wall of the control room at the transmission tower phrased it, to re-appropriate facilities paid for with the peoples' money, was a bold escalation in the struggle for the media. Channel 9 and FM 96.9 covered the entire state. For 3 weeks, from August 1 until the early morning assault on August 21, the "voices and images of the people" dominated these normally state-controlled airwaves in the struggle aimed at "winning the minds" of the people, although of course the powerful national corporate channels, TV Azteca and Televisa continued their pro-state broadcasts. But what a vision of hope sprang from the screen those three weeks! Ordinary people in everyday clothes spoke of the reality of their lives as they understood them, of what neo-liberalism meant to them, of the Plan Pueblo Panama, of their loss of land to developers and international paper companies, of ramshackle rural mountain schools without toilets, of communities without safe water or sanitary drainage, and so on, all the needs that could be met if wealth were not being stolen by rich capitalists and corrupt government agents.<br><br>And not all was about Oaxaca and its problems. The horizon of consciousness reached abroad as, on one occasion that Nancy mentioned to me, Channel 9 broadcast a documentary videotape of living conditions of Palestinians in the occupied territories. One can only imagine the level of global grassroots solidarity if the media, worldwide, were controlled by popular groups instead of transnational corporations. <br><br>This flood of uncontrolled, unmediated, spontaneous communication among the population must have terrorized the former economic and political rulers of Oaxaca by the threat it posed, but they dared not try a repeat of their June 14 heavy-handed attempt to crush the popular uprising. Rather than risk another open failure the state authorities pursued a strategy of clandestine warfare, as described vividly by Diego Enrique Osorno in his 28 August special report from Oaxaca to Narco News . The desperate authorities pursued their so-called Operation "Clean-Up". As Narco News stated, "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".<br><br>The onslaught by these clandestine heavily-armed police officials and state thugs on the transmission facilities of TV Caserola and Radio APPO up on Fortin Hill above the city revealed the government's panic. This assault, in the very early hours on Monday 21 August, totally destroyed the control equipment housed in a building at the base of the transmission tower. The racks of electronics were smashed and sprayed with automatic weapons fire, bullet holes only inches apart in some of the panels, which I photographed that Monday evening. There are, as explained to me by a student friend involved with one of the movement radio stations, several components that made up the state's TV and radio stations: 1) the studios where interviews, news reporters, panel members, etc. met, 2) a repeater station whose antenna received the signals from the studio building and "bounced" them to the transmission station, and 3) the transmission facility atop Fortin Hill, which broadcast the programs to the entire state.<br><br>By knocking out the transmission tower facility the government-directed thugs insured that APPO could not operate the occupied state TV and radio stations. The damage wrought at the transmission control room was a shocking double admission: 1) the URO government knew it was unable to retake and hold each of the three components of its broadcasting stations, and 2) the impact of the APPO broadcasts was an intolerable threat. Therefore they destroyed a key component of what they surely regarded as their own governing infrastructure.<br><br>The battle for the air waves continues. Later that day, the 21, having lost the use of Channel 9 and FM 96.9, APPO groups seized twelve commercial radio stations belonging to nine different companies. The number of seized stations broadcasting for APPO varies from time to time. This morning (29 August) we were able to pick up three, one AM and two FM at our location below the base of Fortin Hill. Apart from radio, the movement produces and distributes a great deal of printed material, videos and CDs, and seeks to spread its point of view by all means of communication. Radio of course remains particularly important.<br><br>On August 16 and 17 a national forum was held in Oaxaca to discuss "Building Democracy and Governability in Oaxaca." Sponsored by fifty organizations within Oaxacan civil society, as Davies wrote, it provided "an opportunity to analyze the crisis and propose alternative solutions from the perspective of civil society, including a new Oaxacan constitution, and by implication, a blueprint for the nation." The basic problems that beset Oaxaca exist throughout Mexico and so it is not surprising that the invitations to attend brought people from all parts of Mexico. What is taking place in Oaxaca is clearly inspiring people throughout this nation.<br><br>In the meantime, the situation in Oaxaca remains full of uncertainty, with much seemingly dependent on the power struggle centered in Mexico City over the presidency. Those currently in the saddle are doing everything possible to insure continuance of PAN/PRI rule, but the majority of Mexicans may be ready for much more fundamental changes. Education, true education, is indeed subversive. Adelante! <br><br>George Salzman was a long-time maverick physics faculty member at the University of Massachusetts Boston Campus. Now retired, he has lived for seven years in Oaxaca. He can be contacted at george.salzman@umb.edu<br><br><!--EZCODE AUTOLINK START--><a href="http://www.counterpunch.com/salzman08302006.html">www.counterpunch.com/salz...02006.html</a><!--EZCODE AUTOLINK END--><br> <p></p><i></i>
isachar
 
Posts: 950
Joined: Thu Nov 03, 2005 2:23 pm
Blog: View Blog (0)

Previous

Return to Latin America

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest