Mexico

The Power of the Oaxaca Commune

September 22, 2006

As this edition was closing, the failure of negotiations between the
Interior Secretariat [Secretaría de Gobernación] and the Popular
Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca, APPO, was announced. At the same
time, threats of repression, with direct intervention by the
[militarized] Federal Preventive Police [PFP] are growing. As the
power of the APPO grows, the fear by state and federal governments
that the example of Oaxaca will spread, is growing. Declarations by
Mouriño, chief of the presidential transition team for the fraudulent
Felipe Calderón, prove this: "The subject of Oaxaca is different
(from the PRD blockades in the capital), there has been violence
there, there have been deaths there, there is an obvious challenge to
the institutions there." Leaders of the APPO have pointed out that,
although the solution by repression was not mentioned during
negotiations, it could not be ruled out. Faced with the threat of
repression, it is necessary to surround the heroic struggle of the
workers and people of Oaxaca with solidarity.

Less than a century ago in southern Mexico, Emiliano Zapata
established the Morelos Commune. Today a new Commune is rising in
Oaxaca, in the framework of a profound crisis of the regime of
alternating parties [régimen de la alternancia] and reminds us of the
heroic gesture of the workers of the Paris Commune in 1871. Oaxaca
marks the culminating point in the class struggle in the country, the
most advanced revolutionary process in the region.

The Zócalo of the city of Oaxaca remains occupied and protected by
the organizations of the APPO, that show much combativeness. The
people read, comment on, and discuss the press, making blankets and
banners. There is an atmosphere of much politicization and militancy,
which has prevented the movement from declining or arriving at
negotiations contrary to the demands of the APPO. While the federal
government tries to revive the Ulises Ruiz Ortíz (URO) administration
and the threats of possible repression, a dual power is beginning to
extend through the whole state. The URO administration continues to
crumble.

People begin to see the APPO as a real government

The power of the APPO is beginning to assume greater character as a
popular political organ of decision and representation in the entire
state. From distant villages and municipalities commissions arrive at
the capital to hand over the founding documents of local Popular
Assemblies, thus increasing initiatives toward self-organization and
the multi-tendency front established by some union and popular
organizations that form the APPO. At the same time, communities that
have their own governments send greetings to the APPO in the city
and demand the fall of URO. But they also arrive with problems and
conflicts for the APPO decide as the government.

These elements of self-organization are beginning to become more
extensive and to be expressed with greater clarity in the assemblies
of neighborhoods that want to have a certain representation in the
APPO, many assemblies until now with a common character.
Transportation problems, conflicts between families, conflicts over
safety and other conflicts, are explained to the APPO to seek a
possible solution. In what it does, the APPO has become an incipient
form of government with an embryonic administrative power. In their
minds, the people Oaxaca are beginning to see the APPO as a real
government, erected on popular bases and, because of that, support
has become massive.

This heroic struggle brings up for discussion the seizure of power
itself and how to solve the demands of the oppressed and exploited
comprehensively. While the leaderships of the movement are seeking a
negotiated solution with the federal government, the base of this
struggle is making its mark by broadening dual power and diversifying
support for the Oaxaca Commune, although it still has illusions in a
solution negotiated with the federal government to declare the fall
of URO.

While measures to pressure the federal government try to find an echo
in sectors of the APPO leadership, that until now has continued to
demand the exit of URO (although at the same time it is committed to
promote measures to diminish tension), the base is reinforcing its
position. In these moments, more city halls and highways have been
seized, and paramilitaries are being driven back. What is happening
is that federal and local governments are terrified and want to avoid
at all costs that the people of Oaxaca should go forward in extending
dual power.

"What happened in Atenco is not going to happen here"

Like the Paris Commune, the forces of the right and reaction are
clamoring for an "energetic" solution that would return order and
tranquility to the ruling class. The parties of the Oaxaca Congress
approved a request to the Congress of the Union to send federal
repressive forces to keep an eye on the situation and reestablish
normalization.

There is a willingness of the people of Oaxaca to confront threats
and repression if negotiations fail, since the Interior Secretariat
wants and seeks to bring in the federal police forces with the
agreement of a sector of the APPO, to "reestablish order." But the
will of the people is seeking to turn its struggle into a mass
struggle with popular support, that has not been broken, as its
showed in confronting the paramilitaries and the death squadron. They
say, "what happened to our comrades in Atenco is not going to happen
here."

This was what the APPO assembly showed on September 19, where the
leadership arrived with a proposal to comply with the "cooling-off
measures" that the Interior Secretary proposed to the teachers’
leaders. The base indignantly rejected any agreement aiming at
surrendering the movement; it even rejected the blackmail of
repression that the leadership attempted.

This is why this struggle must be extended to a national level. And
unions like the SME, the UNT and the CNTE must go on strike now, in
solidarity with the APPO and the struggle of the people of Oaxaca,
unifying the discontent against the fraud and the antidemocratic
regime with the demands of workers and campesinos of the whole
country.

*Translated by Workers News