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Recent political events in Mexico

For two years, the whole establishment conspired to prevent the victory of the leftist candidate in presidential elections, Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), which took place last July 2nd. The President, the government, the political parties, the media, private corporations, the Catholic Church... all of them used illegal tricks in a very dirty campaign against AMLO, who any way had for 18 months, in most polls, an advantage of 10 points over Calderón, the candidate of the right...

The electoral journey went without special incidents. At the end of the day both candidates declared victory. A few days later the official electoral body announced that Calderón won for 0.5% votes. There were very strange manipulations and apparently a very sophisticated fraud was implemented. AMLO immediately organized two marches in Mexico City (one of one million people, the other with two million people) to claim for the cleaning of the election. He asked for a recounting of every vote. He also organized the longest sit-in in history: seven kilometers in one of the main avenues of Mexico City and the main plaza. He has been living in one of the encampments of the sit-in in the main plaza for more than a month. And he convened a National Democratic Convention for September 16th (Independence Day in Mexico), in order to create a kind of alternative government or government in resistance, with the purpose of reorganizing all Mexican institutions from the bottom up. He appealed to one article of our Constitution, recognizing the right of the people to change at any moment their political regime. The organizers expect a million people for the Convention, representing every municipality and sector of the society.

Next September 1st President Fox will read his last report to the nation in the Federal Congress. A few days ago, anticipating the marches and blockades announced for that day, the buildings of the Congress were surrounded by tanks and thousands of policemen and troops - a kind of announcement of what is to come. When the Electoral Court rejected all the claims submitted by the parties two days ago, Calderón declared immediately that he is ready to deal with the violent ones -clearly announcing the mano dura (strong hand) he pretends to use...

Before September 6 the Electoral Court should take any of two decisions:

  1. Nullify the elections, and we will thus get in December a very weak Interim President, leading a country economically devastated and socially and politically divided (the elections showed the Northern states for Calderón, the Center and the South for AMLO; the votes also followed class lines), with the mandate to organize elections in no less that eight months and no more than 18. We can anticipate great instability and every kind of turbulence. Or:
  2. Confirm the victory of Calderón. There will be profound frustration and rage in millions of people, particularly the poor, who nourished many hopes about AMLO. AMLO will lead a kind of uprising, trying to moderate and control a movement of millions of people, in the whole country. We can anticipate great instability and every kind of turbulence.

The word fascism has been circulating in these months, and particularly in the last 30 days, in order to describe attitudes, ideologies and behavior of the group that may take office next December. It is not the word to use, as yet, but it gives an idea of the humor in the country.

Since January, Subcomandante Marcos started a tour around the country for The Other Campaign, organized by the Zapatistas with the conviction that the political classes (including the left) were clearly unable to listen to people's claims. It was a campaign for the people themselves to listen to each other and organize their struggle without the political parties and the government. Most probably the Zapatistas will wait until the Convención of September 16th to take a position about the movement. The Other Campaign was explicitly separated from any political party or the elections.

Recent political events in Oaxaca

We have been in turmoil for a long time, in view of the barbaric administration of the psychopathic, corrupt and authoritarian governor of Oaxaca, Ulises Ruiz, who took office on December 2004 after a fraudulent election.

On May 22nd the teachers union (70 000 teachers in the whole state) started a sit-in at the main plaza of Oaxaca, as part of their struggle for economic claims. In the city, the people reacted with indifference or anger to the sit-in and the blockade of some streets; they were used to these annual demonstrations, which always end in a negotiation producing some additional perks for the leaders of the union and for the teachers. The people were also angry because the teachers abandoned the schools – and many families did not know what to do with their children.

On June 14th the governor ordered a very violent repression of the sit-in, including bombs of tear gas thrown on the teachers from a helicopter –many of which fell in private houses or offices in down town. The episode changed the nature of the movement. ¡Fuera Ulises! (something like Ulises out of Oaxaca) became the unifying slogan for all the people discontented with his administration. The teachers union, observing such impact, attempted to orderly articulate such social forces as support for their movement and convened a Popular Assembly of the People of Oaxaca (APPO, for its name in Spanish). Hundreds of social and grassroots organizations joined immediately the Assembly. Radical groups in the teachers union changed soon the relationship between the union and APPO. They imposed to the leadership of the union a kind of subordination to the Assembly, which is a very complex and heterogeneous body which has been leading the uprising since June 20th. Many marches have been organized. One of them gathered a million people, almost a third of the population of the state.

It is a very long and complex story, with very impressive episodes. Two of them may illustrate the struggle:

  1. Given the usual use of the media against the movement, a group of women of APPO peacefully invaded the public network, which operates radio and TV for the whole state. It had been used by the governor for propaganda against the movement. The group started to disseminate the ideas, proposals and initiatives of APPO and opened the network to the people 24 hours a day. Thousands of them started to call the station, which of course had every kind of technical problems (the women occupying the network had no previous training for this). One night, a group of undercover police agents and mercenaries came to the facilities with weapons and started shooting. They destroyed the equipment and injured some people. A few hours later, as a reaction, APPO occupied ALL private radio stations and TV networks in the city. Instead of one, they suddenly got 12 channels to disseminate information about the movement...and give voice to the people.
  2. After several skirmishes, the governor kept the police in its barracks (apparently the policemen refused to follow instructions to repress the people, who were very well organized for self defense). For more than a month, no police, not even traffic police, has been seen in the city. Night and day members of APPO stay in sit-ins before every public agency in the city and all the private radio stations and networks in its hands. (The governor and all its officers meet secretly in hotels or private houses; no bureaucrat can come to work). One night, a convoy of 30 pick-up vans, with undercover agents and mercenaries, came to the sit-ins and started to shoot. They were not shooting at the people, but trying to intimidate them. APPO reported immediately the situation, in the occupied radio stations. In a few minutes the people started to organize barricades, to prevent the arrival of the convoy. In one place, they were able to close the street with a truck and thus "trapped" a pick-up van. Its occupants escaped. In another street one guy died; apparently he was not involved in the sit-in and was only passing by when the attackers started to shoot. Since then, every night, at 11:00pm, more than a thousand barricades close all the streets around the sit-ins or in critical crossroads. At 6:00am the barricades are partially dismantled, to facilitate the circulation.

Two stories may illustrate the mood in the city.

  1. Two days ago, in a street of a lower middle class neighborhood of the city of Oaxaca, there was a big fight in a private party. A couple came out of the house, very drunk. "Perhaps we must call the police", said him. "Don't be stupid", said her; "there is no police". "You are right", said him, confused; "let's call APPO".
  2. "Don't be stupid", said the petty, corrupt leader to a young baker in a street in downtown Oaxaca, in the sidewalk before his shop; "if you do that I will burn your place. These spaces are mine. You are in command in your own home, but I am the boss here". And he took his gun, threatening the baker, while his bodyguards surrounded him. But Diego Hernández was not intimidated. "I am not afraid of you", he said; "behind that gun a coward is hidden". They were going to beat him, when Diego exploded three fireworks, as APPO does in the barricades, if there is something suspicious or threatening: it is the alert signal. That was enough. For now.

There is an increasing tension. Organized business close their shops two days ago. The Ministry of the Interior finally intervened and there are conversations in Mexico City.

In order to legally oust the governor, the Senate should declare "desaparición de poderes" (meaning that the constituted powers are no longer governing). The current Senate leaves office next September 1st. The new Senate is of course involved in the national turmoil. Anyway, both PRI and PAN have expressed their full support to the governor.

In spite of the guerrilla attacks of the police, a human rights organization reported that in the last months there was less violence (deads, injured) than in any other month of the last 10 years...

But a severe repression, both selective and massive, with the federal police or the army, can start at any moment.

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