For a National Strike Against RepressionState of Siege in Oaxaca,
Preparations in Mexico City
Paramilitary Federal Preventive Police behind electrified barbed wire in Oaxaca. (Photo: Indymedia)
Down with the PRI, PAN and PRD! Break with the AMLO Popular Front!
Forge a Revolutionary Workers Party!
The following is a translation of a leaflet put out by the Grupo Internacionalista,Mexican section of the League for the Fourth International.
NOVEMBER 30 – As Mexico is preparing to hand over power from President Vicente Fox, of the right-wing clerical National Action Party (PAN), to fellow PAN member Felipe Calderón, the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca is under a state of siege, while in the Federal District (Mexico City) preparations are underway so that the capital will awaken December 1 under a virtual police state. The outgoing president promised to carry out the dirty work of putting an end to the mass strike in Oaxaca before his successor took office. For his part, the “president-elect” – by the vote and grace of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal – promises to bring down “the full weight of the law” against those who oppose his taking office and his takeover of the National Congress. Fox’s six-year term is ending, and Calderón’s begins with the tanquetas (armored personnel carriers mounted with water cannon) deployed and the pounding of military boots in the streets. The prospect is for a bleak future, and/or an outbreak of fierce class struggles.
Already on November 20, a kilometers-long metal wall was erected around the Chamber of Deputies, on the basis of rumors of an occupation of the legislative palace by “uncontrolled” groups. This provocation produced rancor among the legislators who were harrassed (by police), and anger among residents of near-by neighborhoods, forced to make long detours on foot. Later, on November 28, deputies of the PAN seized the podium in San Lázaro (the Congress building) in order to head off the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), which had promised to prevent the swearing-in of the imposed president Calderón. The PAN maneuver precipitated a brawl in parliament the likes of which has seldom been seen in a bourgeois legislative chamber. At the same time, it was revealed that at least 50 members of the Presidential General Staff [the chief of state’s praetorian guard] were already in the building. In the early morning hours today, hundreds of Navy troops began arriving to tighten the ring around the Congress and Auditorio Nacional.
We have warned that this attack represents an act of class repression directed against the workers, peasants, Indians and working people of the whole country by a capitalist regime which fears an uprising of the exploited and oppressed. It is the follow-up to the series of massacres against steel workers in Lázaro Cárdenas, Michoacán in April, against peasants and townspeople in Texcoco and San Salvador Atenco, Mexico state in May, and the teachers of Oaxaca in June. Even more, it is revenge for the defeats suffered by the forces of “law and order” at the hands of their victims, who in each of these cases ran off the killers in uniform. Against the bourgeois onslaught, the Grupo Internacionalista has urged that workers defense committees be formed, independent of the bourgeois parties and state, and a national strike undertaken to counter the repressive wave hanging over the entire country.
Donneybrook in San Lázaro Legislative Palace. PAN deputies seize podium in Chamber of Deputies supposedly to block PRD, provoking free-for-all. (Photo: José Carlo González/La Jornada)
It is also necessary to combat this attack politically. Tomorrow in the capital, thousands upon thousands of demonstrators will go into the streets to oppose the taking of office by “Fecal” (Felipe Calderón), the reactionary technocrat tied to the sinister Catholic order of Opus Dei (heirs of the Franco regime in Spain) and the cristeros of El Yunque.1 Challenging the “bogus president,” the beneficiary of wholesale electoral fraud, many identify with Andrés Manuel López Obrador and his PRD. Widely known by his initials, “AMLO” was designated the “legitimate president” in September by the National Democratic Convention organized by the PRD, and was sworn in at Mexico City’s Zócalo (Constitution Plaza, the main square in the capital) on November 20, the anniversary of the Mexican Revolution which the present group in power rejects. However, despite the “progressive” airs they give themselves, AMLO is a bourgeois politician and the PRD is a bosses’ party.
The Grupo Internacionalista calls to break the popular front which chains large sectors of the working people to the PRD and its standard-bearer, López Obrador. It is this class-collaborationist alliance that has stood in the way of extending the Oaxacan teachers strike to the rest of the country. It also blocked workers action over the police attack against Atenco and the assault on the SICARTSA steel plant. And not by accident. In each case, PRD legislators and officials were jointly responsible for unleashing the repression itself (Governor Lázaro Cárdenas Batel in Michoacán, the mayor of Texcoco Nazario Gutiérrez and the PRD fraction in the Oaxacan legislative assembly). Against the attacks by the bosses’ parties, it is urgently necessary to forge the nucleus of a revolutionary workers party which fights for a workers and peasants government to expropriate the bourgeoisie and launch the international socialist revolution.
Night and Fog Operations in Besieged Oaxaca
November 25 in Oaxaca: PFP claimed to be reestablishing “tranquility.” Instead they have imposed
state of siege, brutally beating and randomly arresting people to terrorize the population. (Photo: AFP)
Five days ago in Oaxaca, a peaceful march of tens of thousands of opponents of the bloody governor Ulises Ruiz Ortiz and his Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) was brutally repressed by the militarized Federal Preventive Police (PFP) and PRI paramilitaries. It was the seventh “mega-march” against the murderer-governor since the beginning of the teachers strike at the end of May (see “Mexico: Oaxaca Teachers Repel Bloody Cop Assault,” The Internationalist No. 24, Summer 2006). On this occasion, the demonstrators added the demand “URO [Ulises Ruiz Ortiz] and PFP Out of Oaxaca!” When demonstrators arrived at the historic center of the city, they began setting up new barricades around the PFP, entrenched in Oaxaca’s Zócalo behind electrified barbed wire. Suddenly police sharpshooters on the rooftops began firing off hundreds if not thousands of tear gas canisters. Soon dozens of automobiles were set on fire along with several offices of the state government. Combing the streets in search of anyone suspected of being a sympathizer of the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO), the police arrested more than 140 people in the long night of November 25 (see “Oaxaca, November 25: The Night of the Hyenas”).
In the following days, the PFP and Oaxaca state Ministerial Police have carried out house searches, checked identity documents of passengers on public transport and kidnapped defenseless pedestrians in the streets. “Dozens of convoys of ministerial police prowl the city, each composed of five pick-up trucks with 8 police with assault rifles in firing position,” reports an APPO bulletin. “We have run out of tolerance,” says the commander of the PFP. Police say they have arrest warrants for 300 people, and intend to arrest the entire State Council of the APPO. In a display of police lunacy, the PFP talks of “at least 100 people of Cuban, French and Venezuelan origin, who ‘have financed and advised’ the ‘radical groups’” (La Jornada, 29 November). To prevent mobilizations demanding the freeing of those jailed, the authorities transferred 141 prisoners to a federal prison in the state of Nayarit. None of the arrested have been able to talk with relatives or lawyers. When representatives of the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH), a government outfit, were able to examine 17 of the inmates, “they said that all had been severely beaten” (La Jornada, 30 November).
As of yesterday, according to the Oaxaca daily Noticias (30 November), the number of those arrested is estimated at 250, of which 90 are teachers of Section 22, SNTE-CNTE, whose six-month strike resisted the whole gamut of repression and threats by the PRI state government. Others of the arrested include 13 from Oaxaca’s “Benito Juárez” Autonomous University (UABJO), six from the Oaxaca Institute of Technology, and one from the Secretariat of Health. In addition, a human rights investigator linked to the United Nations was seized, and at least 39 disappeared have been reported (including 13 women). The general secretary of the Union of Workers and Employees of UABJO, Rosendo Ramírez Sánchez, declared that “in Oaxaca individual rights have been canceled.” He roundly denounced a “military occupation in gray uniform. We are living under a state of siege, with state terrorism.” Students at the School of Medicine reported three people killed, whose bodies were dragged off by the repressive forces. As they were announcing this in an outdoor press conference, they were fired on by cops from a pick-up truck passing by at high speed.
The pirate radio state of the PRI death squads, “Citizens Radio,” called to burn down the offices of the Oaxaca New Left (NIOAX), headed by Flavio Sosa, one of the most prominent spokesmen of the APPO; only a few hours later the building was torched. The federal government pretended to be open to dialogue, but three hours before the scheduled start of talks, state police arrested Erik Sosa, Flavio’s brother and himself a member of the Assembly’s statewide council. Yesterday in the pre-dawn hours, the various police bodies (federal, state and municipal) launched an operation to dismantle the last barricade, located at the Cinco Señores intersection, site of the victory of thousands of APPO supporters over the PFP hordes on November 2 (see “The Battle of Oaxaca University,” The Internationalist supplement, November 2006). Later in the day, some 200 federal police crowded the entrance to the University, where Radio APPO has been transmitting over the antenna of Radio Universidad. After three days of massive raids, the population didn’t dare to come out in defense, and the defenders decided to turn over the station to university authorities. Bertha Muñoz, La Doctora, the calm and tireless announcer of Radio APPO, along with APPO leaders who had been holed up in the Church of the Virgin of the Poor managed to slip out surreptitiously without being arrested.
Oaxaca teachers staged 48-hour walkout demanding immediate, unconditional freeing of arrested protesters.
Today, despite the massive repression aimed at terrorizing the population, thousands of teachers of Section 22 staged a 48-hour work stoppage, demanding an end to arbitrary arrests, immediate freeing of the arrested and the presentation of the disappeared alive. Two weeks after returning to classes, they threatened to go back on statewide strike. The response of “URO” and his thugs didn’t take long in coming. Ministerial police broke into classrooms of schools that hadn’t yet shut down and violently arrested dozens of teachers in the municipalities of the Central Valleys region. “They dragged out primary, secondary and kindergarten teachers at gunpoint in front of their students,” according to an APPO bulletin. Tomorrow, the teachers, once more on strike, and the APPO have announced a march to protest against the swearing-in of Felipe Calderón. Several of the APPO and Section 22 leaders are PRDers (among them Flavio Sosa, a national councilor of the PRD, and Enrique Rueda Pacheco), and it is evident that, as they did with their call for a “punishment vote” against the PAN and the PRI (and therefore implicitly for the PRD) in the July 2 presidential vote, they are again seeking to attach their struggle, if only “tactically,” to a mobilization on behalf of López Obrador.
Forge a Proletarian and Revolutionary Leadership!
Until now, the struggle in Oaxaca has been wholly waged under the watchword of democracy. However, as we have repeatedly emphasized (see “Oaxaca Is Burning” and other articles of the 10 November supplement to The Internationalist), underlying the turbulent mass strike in Oaxaca is the class war. In order to win this battle, a proletarian leadership is required which breaks with all the bourgeois parties on a genuine class program and mobilizes the tremendous power of the working class nationally against the capitalist state. The present leaders of the Oaxacan teachers and their APPO allies, in contrast, have restricted their demands to the confines of the state and have sought the support of bourgeois forces. Thus they call for the removal of the PRI governor by senators of the PAN and PRD. Despite the support of the church hierarchy for sending in the PFP (which they themselves initially accepted), APPO spokesmen have called for the intervention of arch-reactionary anti-Communist pope Benedict XVI. Now they are appealing to the United Nations, that den of imperialist thieves and their flunkeys that authorized, after the fact, the U.S. occupation of Iraq.
These calls are made in the name of “human rights,” the myth used by supposedly democratic imperialists in order to subjugate troublesome regimes. The human rights crusade was one of the battle cries of their anti-Soviet Cold War, and the Yankee imperialists even pretend to be defending the rights of women in Afghanistan. The reality, as affirmed in the German version of the revolutionary proletarian anthem, is that “the International will win human rights,” through socialist revolution.
Tomorrow the candidate of the Neanderthal right, Felipe Calderón, backed by imperialist companies like Wal-Mart and Pepsi-Cola, will succeed the former Coca-Cola executive Vicente Fox. He will have the parliamentary support of the PRI, bought for the price of keeping Ulises Ruiz in office in Oaxaca. The “PRIAN” (PRI + PAN) government cannot be fought by joining with the PRD, a bourgeois party whose very reason for existence is to maintain capitalist rule by extinguishing workers’ struggles. It is necessary to forge a workers party – revolutionary and internationalist, Leninist and Trotskyist – which fights for the taking of power by the proletariat, supported by the peasantry, the indigenous peoples and all the oppressed.
The “democratic” program has led to a dead-end, because the struggles of the working people cannot be resolved on the basis of bourgeois democracy – which, moreover, is impossible in semi-colonial countries like Mexico. As Trotsky indicated in his perspective (both a theory and a program) of permanent revolution, today no wing of the capitalist class is capable of carrying out the tasks which the great bourgeois revolutions accomplished in centuries past. The agrarian revolution necessary to free poor peasants and Indians from their centuries-old poverty; national liberation from the imperialist yoke; and democracy for the exploited and oppressed, the wage slaves of capital, can only be won through workers revolution, expropriating the profit-hungry bourgeoisie and extending to the very heart of the empire, where today more than ten million Mexican workers toil. For this struggle to be the beginning of “the revolution of the 21st century,” as a slogan stenciled on the walls in Oaxaca proclaimed, it must break out of the narrow mold in which it is now constrained. We do not look backwards, to the heritage of Zapata’s peasant nationalism; instead, we seek to be the proletarian Bolsheviks of the 21st century. n
Grupo Internacionalista at rally in defense of Oaxaca teachers by SITUAM union at Iztapalapa
campus, November 11.
1 The cristero revolt of 1926-29, so-called for its battle cry of “Christ the King,” was a war of Catholic reaction against secular education and anti-clerical government measures following the 1910-17 Mexican Revolution. El Yunque is an ultra-rightist secret society based in Guadalajara, Jalisco, which was a center of the cristero revolt. It includes many PAN leaders.