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Mexico: The Commune of Oaxaca

While the mass media are only talking about the proclamation of Felipe Calderón (PAN) as the new President, in southern Mexico an intense mobilization is developing in the city of Oaxaca. After the brutal repression on June 14 against the strike of the Oaxaca teachers, the struggle grew massively, by uniting the workers and the […]

Left Voice

September 10, 2006
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While the mass media are only talking about the
proclamation of Felipe Calderón (PAN) as the new
President, in southern Mexico an intense mobilization
is developing in the city of Oaxaca. After the brutal
repression on June 14 against the strike of the Oaxaca
teachers, the struggle grew massively, by uniting the
workers and the people of that city with the slogan,
“Out with Governor Ulises Ruiz.” The Asamblea Popular
de los Pueblos de Oaxaca (APPO) continues to occupy
official buildings, forcing the PRI state government
to take refuge in several hotels, while the people of
Oaxaca control a big part of the city. We reprint
below extracts from the Declaration of the Fracción
Trotskista – Cuarta Internacional. One can read more
about the heroic struggle of Oaxaca in [La Verdad
Obrera->http://www.pts.org.ar] No. 191 (June 15), No. 194 (July 6), No. 199
(August 10), No. 200 (August 17), and No. 201 (August

In the city of Oaxaca, the workers and poor people,
with the combative teachers of Section XXII of the
Coordinadora Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educación
in the front ranks, for almost 4 months have kept up a
heroic struggle against the state government of the
PRI supporter Ulises Ruiz Ortiz (URO).

Calling for mobilization, for a confrontation with the
repressive forces and for the strike, they have
launched the Asamblea Popular de los Pueblos de Oaxaca
(APPO), by occupying the capital city for more than
100 days. In its actions, the APPO functions as a dual
power, which brings together around 365 workers’,
social and popular organizations, and which exercises
territorial control in a large part of the city and
some municipalities of Oaxaca state, as well as in the
ways and means of communication. The Commune of Oaxaca
is based on the rebellion and insurgency of the
workers and people and on their putting into practice
radicalized methods of struggle (from the general
strike to the confrontation with the repressive
forces), through which they are developing a political
struggle against the state power and are willing to
confront the repressive forces.

Today the capital city, which is the political,
economic and administrative center of the state, is
living through a revolutionary situation, where the
possibility is being raised that the workers, peasants
and indigenous peoples may throw out Ulises Ruiz and
take power.

The struggle of the APPO and of the workers and people
of Oaxaca is the continuation of significant actions
of workers, as in Sicartsa and in the mining industry,
and of popular sectors as in Atenco and other
struggles by peasants and indigenous people. It exists
in a national situation crossed by deep political and
social contradictions, in which the imposition through
fraud of Felipe Calderón (candidate of the right-wing
and Catholic PAN) as the future President, has
awakened big and historic mobilizations of millions of
people, like those that went through the Distrito
Federal on July 16 and 30. The struggle of the APPO is
the highest point of national discontent (higher than
the mobilizations against the fraud, because of its
methods, its organization and the radicalism of its
struggle), and can advance the future course of the
class struggle in Mexico, against a deeply
pro-imperialist and anti-democratic regime that is
utterly lacking in legitimacy because of the scandal
of the fraud as well as the deepening of the plans of
imperialism and the transnational corporations during
the last six-year presidential term.

At present, the struggle of the workers and people of
Oaxaca is the highest landmark in the class struggle
on the continent against the pro-imperialist
governments, and a great example for the working
class, the youth, and the popular masses of Latin
America – since, as we explain in this declaration –
it shows the potential for independent action of the
masses and, in spite of its limits, its dynamic marks
the perspective that the struggles against
exploitation and oppression must follow: strugglnig
against the political representatives of the
capitalists and landowners, basing oneself on
revolutionary mobilization and the general political
strike, and imposing the power of the workers and
their allies in the city and countryside.

The Rise of the Commune of Oaxaca

The deepest motors of the revolutionary process that
Oaxaca is living through are extreme poverty in the
state and the destitution into which the workers
(concentrated fundamentally in public and private
services), the indigenous people and the peasants have
sunk, and the anti-democracy and repression carried
out by successive PRI governments.

The present process began on May 22, when 70,000
educational workers in Oaxaca began a strike of
indefinite duration (…) On June 14, the government
tried to eradicate the movement and prevent its massive
growth, through brutal repression by hundreds of state
police. The teachers heroically resisted in a battle
that lasted several hours, and, with the help of other
workers and students, they managed to retake control
of the city center (…)

The defeat of the repression marked a leap in the
struggle: a government utterly lacking in legitimacy,
on the defensive, and with a limited social base, and
a real political movement of the masses in opposition
to the government, headed by the working teachers,
that began to control the state capital.

A real revolutionary process against the political
power of the state has begun, in which the movement of
the masses is developing and multiplying all its
initiative in struggle and organization. This was
shown with the rise of the Asamblea Popular de los
Pueblos de Oaxaca (APPO), made up of the teachers and
organizations like the Promotora contra el
Neoliberalismo de Oaxaca, the Frente Sindical de
Organizaciones de Oaxaca (FSODO) and representatives
of other municipalities and peoples of the state.

The APPO has increasingly acted like an alternative
dual power, with significant territorial control and
by disputing in action the constituted powers of the
provincial bourgeois state. (…) Moreover, the APPO
organized the boycott of the traditional holiday of
Guelaguetza in the service of the government and
businessmen, and launched the “Honorable Cuerpo de
Topiles” (“honorable corps of guards”) of the Asamblea
Popular de los Pueblos de Oaxaca (APPO) and the
“Policía Magistral de Oaxaca” (Pomo), which began to
function as self-defense committees.

Today a large part of the city of Oaxaca is controlled
by the APPO, exercising its authority in the absence
of any presence of municipal police or any other
public force. It is the APPO that controls the
markets, businesses and services. The city center and
the seized radio stations (like “radio cacerola,”
where the women organized in the recently-formed
Coordinadora de Mujeres de Oaxaca led the seizure of
the station) are protected by barricades, with
rotating guards to prevent the repressive forces from
entering (…) The Commune of Oaxaca shows the
willingness of big sectors of the masses to turn the
slogan “ya cayó, ya cayó, Ulises ya cayó” (“he already
fell, already fell, Ulises already fell”) into
reality, and who, in their mind, are beginning to be
aware that it is possible to govern their own destiny,
for which it is essential, as we explain below, to
carry out the struggle to the end through the
political general strike and the establishment of a
government of the workers, peasants and the poor,
which can raise a workers’ and popular program that
aims at disputing the power of the big capitalists and
landowners and can constitute an example for the whole
country. In this process of struggle, other sectors of
the working class in the state have made their methods
of action felt, like the health workers who brought 15
hospitals and 650 health centers to a halt on August
16, or the civic strike that mobilized 80,000 workers
on August 18 (…)

After the failure of the repression of June 14, they
redoubled their efforts to defeat the movement (…) The
majority of the bosses of businesses and services (who
are alleging losses of millions because of the
conflict), are the base of the reaction that is
plotting for the fall of the APPO and the entrance of
the repressive forces. This has caused the reformist
sectors most inclined to agree on a negotiated
solution, to seek accords that surrender to the
bourgeoisie and petite bourgeoisie of Oaxaca.

In recent weeks the murderous and repressive
government of Ulises Ruiz organized new attacks
against the APPO, such as the attack on the
demonstration of August 10, when José Jiménez
Colmenares was assassinated, the action of armed units
against radio stations controlled by the APPO, and
August 21, when another protester was assassinated.
With this savage and selective repression, they seek
to impose the unfavorable terms on the movement that
the Department of the Interior and sectors of the
bosses (such as the Oaxaca Corpamex) have been
promoting and, eventually, to impose a replacement for
Ulises Ruiz who is part of the current regime.

But despite the deaths and imprisonments, the struggle
continues. The teachers and the APPO declared that the
resignation of Ulises Ruiz is “not negotiable”, and
called for a second state-wide civic strike for August
31. On September 1st a tremendous fifth mega-march of
about 300,000 people took place.

For a government of the APPO and other worker,
peasant, and people’s organizations

For the demands of the workers, peasants, and poor
people of Oaxaca to be achieved requires that the
workers and poor people take control of their destiny,
as part of a nation-wide struggle against capitalist
rule and its political regime. To do this, the APPO
and the union organizations must fight against all the
sectors of the regime, and act politically and
organizationally independent of the bosses’ parties,
including the “opposition” Party of Democratic
Revolution (PRD).

The people’s demand for all the state powers to go
away raises the question of who should rule. The
masses in motion can’t afford to wait for Congress,
the landlords, and the establishment politicians to
design an interim government to resolve the
institutional crisis, “restore order”, and cheat the
mass movement. This is what is being prepared at high
levels of the government, and was already brought up
by the PRD senator Gabino Cue, who, as part of a mixed
commission of senators, deputies, and the Secretary of
the Interior, Carlos Abascal Carranza, is going to
Oaxaca to “evaluate the institutional and political
solutions to this crisis, and to return tranquility
and certainty to all sectors of society”. This is a
trap that is set for this heroic struggle: we are
opposed to all “solutions” coming from the regime,
such as a call for elections by means of the same
corrupt institutional machinery, and we say that the
fight to throw out Ulises Ruiz is part of the struggle
to drive out all the politicians who serve the
capitalists and landlords. Neither Ulises nor any
other politician of the bourgeois regime!

For this reason, the revolutionary Marxist
organizations that have signed this declaration say
that we must initiate a plan of action and a general
strike throughout the state to bring down Ulises Ruiz
and install a provisional government of the APPO and
the worker, peasant, and indigenous organizations in
the struggle. This provisional government should
convoke a Revolutionary Constituent Assembly, which
should discuss freely and with sovereign powers the
most pressing demands of the teachers and all the
exploited and oppressed people who have mobilized and
sympathize with the struggle; such as a radical
redistribution of the land to the peasants and cheap
credits to farm it, the right to self-determination
for the indigenous communities (which implies a
guarantee of access to their historic lands), the
expropriation of the big landlords and the tourism
magnates, and issues as important as freedom for the
political prisoners and the disarmament of the
repressive forces and paramilitary gangs, together
with a program in the interest of the workers, such as
the division of working hours between the employed and
the unemployed, with no cut in pay and a sliding wage
scale pegged to inflation. This struggle must aim to
be an example to be extended over all the exploited
and oppressed people of Mexico.

This Constituent Assembly would only succeed over the
ruins of the state regime that for years has preserved
the rule of the bosses and landlords and favored the
business interests of the tourism bourgeoisie.

As a part of this struggle, the APPO has the
funamental task of growing to represent all the
exploited and oppressed, with politics independent of
the church and the bosses’ parties, composed of
replaceable, recallable, and mandated delegates, from
every workplace, city, or town, outgrowing its current
phase (which is one of its principal limitations) as a
united front of organizations and political
tendencies, and extending the example of the Oaxaca
city Commune over the whole state. In the same manner,
against the brutal attacks of provocateurs and
paramilitaries, the guards (topiles) must be extended,
spreading the formation of self-defense committees to
constitute a true workers and poor people’s militia,
in order to assure the physical integrity of the
members of the movement and defeat the provocations
staged by the government and the forces of reaction.

For a nationwide strike of the whole labor movement,
with Oaxaca and against the government and its schemes

The APPO’s struggle, like the nationwide struggle
against the electoral frud, confronts an
anti-democratic and pro-imperialist regime.
Regrettably, we have already seen how Lopez Obrador,
because of the bourgeois character of his party, the
PRD, has failed to call for new mass actions in which
the workers movement could participate with its own
methods of struggle, thus limiting the democratic
movement to mobilizations seeking to put pressure on
the regime, which are completely incapable of breaking
the anti-democratic regime of alternating parties, as
the recent consecration of Felipe Calderón as the next
president proves. For it is only the workers, by means
of the general political strike, paralyzing the
production and circulation of goods, and leading the
struggle of all the people, can corner and defeat the
government. Oaxaca shows us that the way forward is
the workers’ and people’s struggle in the streets
against the political power of the bosses and their
repressive forces. The working class of the whole
country must take the stage, to strike blows against
the capitalist government with its own methods of
struggle, paralyzing the great factories, the
services, communications, and transportation, and
uniting its demands with those of the APPO.
Regrettably, the unions that could help to extend and
strengthen the struggle of the Oaxaca Commune, have
not demonstrated the class solidarity necessary to
confront the regime. The working masses of Oaxaca must
know who they can really trust. The Oaxacan teachers
and the APPO can lead a great nationwide struggle of
the whole worker and popular movement and its demands,
uniting the struggle of Oaxaca with the opposition to
the electoral fraud and the rest of their demands, and
mobilizing for a great nationwide strike. For this, we
must demand of the oppositional unions such as the
CNTE, the UNT (National Workers’ Union), and the
Mexican Electrical Workers’ Unon (SME) that they call
for the strike and guarantee its implementation by
means of assemblies in the workplaces, and that the
millions of workers united in the conservative Workers
Congress [a union federation linked to the PRI] force
their backward leadership to bring their unions into
this struggle.

To discuss and put into practice a plan of action and
a unified program, the APPO and the rest of the
worker, peasant, indigenous, and people’s
organizations should call for a great national
conference of their organizations, with mandated,
elected, and revocable delegates, and that this
conference be held in Oaxaca. The union-democracy
organizations, fronts, and political currents, along
with the “other campaign” led by Marcos and the EZLN,
should get behind this proposal with all their forces.
This conference could also discuss, as we propose, a
great nationwide struggle to set up a Free and
Sovereign Constituent Assembly, where the millions of
workers and peasants from across the country will
discuss how to realize our demands, which will never
be granted by the politicians and the parties of the
bourgeoisie and imperialism.

The struggle to establish a government of the APPO and
the worker and peasant orgnizations is part of the
great nationwide struggle against the anti-democratic
regime and the schemes imposed by imperialism against
the workers and the people, in the perspective of
fighting to establish a workers’ peasants’ and poor
people’s government, which will reorganize society to
serve the interests of the exploited and oppressed,
expropriating the transnational capitalists and
landlords, for which it is essential that we forge a
revolutionary working class party. We call on all the
organizations that call themselves revolutionary
Marxists, an all the sectors that want to fight for a
program like the one we propose to discuss the
programmatic basis for an urgent unification, to lay
the foundation of a great revolutionary workers’ party
in Mexico. This is the perspective that we of the
LTS-CC and the Trotskyist Faction for the Fourth
International defend.








Trotskyist Faction for the Fourth International

September 6, 2006

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