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Rebellion in Oaxaca and Mexico!

I'm now since three weeks in Oaxaca, the beautiful capital of the state Oaxaca in the south of Mexico, which is in these days full of the sounds and smells of rebellion. What began as a strike of teachers that were struggling for better the payments and improvements for the kids like school breakfast, turned into a popular rebellion after the government tried to evict a Planton (a camp of the teachers on the Zocalo, the central place of the city) violently on the 14th of June. Although for us who survived Genova it might seem not even that hard, but for the people, who had already suffered a lot under the governor Ulises Ruiz in the almost two years since his election (which many suspect was by fraud), that was simply too much, the point that made them say "Ya basta!". Instead of killing the movement by repression, as intended by Ulises, he reached a huge wave of solidarity of all parts of society, from indigenous communities to parts of the church, and a united call for his destituation. In this process the APO, or today APPO (Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca) was born, which is an organization, a movement and an assembly at the same time, that unites now more than 300 organizations and local assemblies of villages and quarters. There the delegates of the member organizations meet several times a week to discuss from practical problems to actions and strategies to the future of the city and the movement.

Their first aim is the destitution of Ulises, but most people know that the problems are far beyond Ulises and that profound changes are needed. And that process is already on the way: There are discussions going on about a new constitutional process and a new for of government. People and sectors of society that never had to do with each other are meeting to discuss in the assembly or in one of the many Plantones that are all over the city, or at night on the barricades (there are 1500 of them in the city of Oaxaca!!!). At night you see housewives and old men and women standing on the burning barricades with a stick in their hand, ready to defend themselves and the movement. And that is very necessary: just in the last weeks two people got shot down and died, on in a march and one on a barricade, when the police tried to evict a radio station occupied by the movement. But normally there is no police at all on the streets, since one part of them is anyway on the side of the movement and the other part is simply afraid because of the strength of the movement. And they are strong: On the marches of the APPO up to 800.000 people joined, which is almost one forth of the population of the whole state of Oaxaca, (and 140% of the number of inhabitants); they occupied all government buildings in town, including parliaments and ministries, and for three wonderful weeks even the local TV station. This station, Canal 9, a state owned station for the state of Oaxaca that constantly made propaganda against the movement, got taken by a women's march, armed with cacerolas. After taking it, people from the movement started running it and turned it into one of the most watched TV stations in Oaxaca, until the antennas and the transmission station got literally shot down by police and paramilitaries armed with machine guns. But the answer of the movement was quick: the same night 12 radio stations in town got taken. The next night the police tried to evict one of them, again armed with fire arms that they used against unarmed civilians guarding the radio. One person died in the gunfire. Not the first death: at least five people got killed in the repression against the movement. But still, they didn't succeed to destroy the movement, to the opposite, the APPO continues growing although people are tired after more than tree months of constant mobilizations and living in the Plantones. What we know from our actions against meetings of multinational institutions is here daily reality, with one difference: Here not only the "usual suspects", mostly young activists, are on the streets, but really the people, from young to old, of all sectors of society. In the last weeks Ulises is even loosing the support of the business sector. Still he rejects to leave, saying on the one hand that "nothing is happing in Oaxaca" (which turned into some kind of running gag in the movement) and on the other hand linking the APPO with armed guerilla groups, but it is obvious that he is loosing more and more. That makes the latent threat of a violent "resolution" of the conflict or even a military intervention probable, but since 10 days there are negotiations going on between the APPO and the secretary of the federal government, and apparently they are working on a legal way for the destitution of Ulises.

In any case it is clear that the conflict is in its last stage, that it cannot go on this way, but if the people would win, that could have a huge impact on other movements in the country as well, since underneath a relatively calm superficies it is boiling everywhere. Especially now in the national context of the obvious fraud that happened in the elections. Just a few days ago despite all protest, mobilizations and marches that joined up to 2 million people in the city of Mexico calling for a recount of the votes, the highest court declared the candidate of the national-conservative party PAN, Felipe Calderon, winner of the presidential elections against the social democratic candidate, Lopez Obrador (PRD). Not few people compare this situation to the pre-revolution time 1910, when there was a fraud of the president Porfirio Diaz against the liberal Fransisco Madero, who called first for a revision and recognition of the results and later for an armed uprising, which was the initial of the Mexican Revolution. Although history doesn't repeat itself, at least not in the same way, the rage is growing and it needs a little spark to start a fire. In that sense Oaxaca could become a test field for whole Mexico and the social movements there in both ways: If the people win, it could have a huge positive impact on other states (in some already APPO's where founded in the last weeks). On the other hand, if the government should repress the movement violently, it could be the beginning of a civil war, since they would need the police and military forces of other states to repress a movement of that size; and probably a military occupation for years. And the EPR and other armed groups already declared, that if they should attack the movement in Oaxaca, they would take it as an attack on themselves and respond in that way.

In this situation and with this historical background the APPO is planning the takeover of the government palace (which is anyway occupied since months, although just from the outside) on the 14th of september and to make the traditional "call for freedom", that refers to the call of the priest Miguel Hidalgo which started the fight for independence, but this time for another fight of freedom....

So, it is really amazing what is happening here and it could be a big lesson for social movements all over the world. So please keep an eye on Mexico, especially on the 14th, and the people here are always happy about solidarity actions and declarations...

Greetings from the revolutionary South of Mexico,

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