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2 November 2006

Mexico: Police and army attack Oaxaca rebellion

AFTER FIVE months of struggle and open rebellion in Oaxaca, the outgoing Mexican president Vicente Fox has taken a gamble by sending in the police and the army to retake control of state institutions and the city.

Karl Debbaut, CWI

The "Popular Assembly of the People of Oaxaca", or APPO (the organising committee of the popular uprising against the state governor), called on the citizens of Oaxaca to resist the assault by police forces peacefully and not give in to provocations.

On Friday a group of armed men, who were identified later as policemen in civilian clothes, opened fire on one of the many barricades throughout the city. Three protesters were shot dead, along with a US journalist who was shot in the chest twice. Having shot dead four people, the state forces then moved in and removed the barricades 'to prevent further violence'!

Teachers' strike

The movement in Oaxaca has gone from strength to strength over the last five months and has put forward as its main demand the resignation of the state governor, Ulises Ruiz, a member of the PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party)*

The movement in Oaxaca started with the strike of teachers for better wages. The state governor Ulises Ruiz decided to fulfil his electoral promise to 'clean Oaxaca City from the strikes and demonstrations'. He sent in the police, to try and "clean" the main square where thousands of protesters had built a tent city.

After three hours of violence and with several wounded, the police had to redraw from the main square for "lack of troopers and lack of anti-riot material".

Following the battle APPO brought together numerous social movements from all over Oaxaca state and served as a catalyst for the anger of the population in what is one of the most 'forgotten' states in Mexico.

The decision by Vicente Fox to send in the troops comes after a debate held in the Mexican parliament. The Mexican ruling class has been preparing this clampdown and hopes it will prevent the unrest spreading to other parts of the country and linking up with the millions-strong movement against the fraudulent presidential election victory of Felipe Calderon against Manuel Lopez Obrador.

What next?

The leader of APPO, Flavio Sosa, in comments quoted by the Spanish daily newspaper El Pais, has put forward the perspective of linking the struggle against the state governor Ulises Ruiz with the national movement against the Calderon government. It is not clear, however, how APPO envisages the continuation of the struggle and what the objective of the mass mobilisation should be.

"We have a medium term strategy which will consist of mass peaceful mobilisations. The APPO is struggling for justice, fraternity and harmony of all the people of Oaxaca, to rid ourselves from an expired and authoritarian government", said Sosa.

Significantly Manuel Lopez Obrador has kept his distance from events in Oaxaca and urged that the national protests would limit itself to "peaceful civil protest". The coming together of the different movements, strikes and rebellions in Mexico makes it all the more urgent for the working class to develop its own independent organisations, party and programme to overthrow capitalism.

A revolutionary party could play a decisive role in unifying the different struggles in Mexico and allow the working class to play a leading role in the fight for revolutionary socialism.

One of the main tasks is to democratise the trade unions. This means fighting for free democratic elections of the trade union leadership and for democratic control of the unions by the rank and file. A national campaign to build a one-day general strike, as a first step to stop Calderon being sworn in, needs to be launched.

The events in Mexico open a new chapter in the struggles of the Mexican masses. Mexico's powerful revolutionary traditions, coming from the revolutionary period between 1910 and 1920, can be connected with the need to overthrow capitalism and build a democratic socialist revolution.

  • Mexico's ruling capitalist party for 70 years until losing the presidential election in 2000 to Vicente Fox's PAN (National Action Party). The PRI is still the largest single party in both houses of the national parliament and holds the governorships of several states.
  • Full article and also background material on the political crisis in Mexico see www.socialistworld.net



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