Many breathed a sigh of relief when conservative Felipe Calderón defeated López Obrador’s Marxist coalition in Mexico’s recent Presidential election.
There is now growing evidence that the Mexican left has refused to accept electoral defeat and is implementing Plan B-insurrection.
The leftist US think tank, the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, believes that armed revolution in Mexico is a very real possibility.
The Council submitted this article to the Communist Party USA’s Political Affairs
On the morning of November 6, radical protesters in support of the Oaxaca popular movement detonated bombs at three high-profile targets in Mexico City, including the PRI headquarters and the Federal Electoral Tribunal. Although the attacks caused no injuries, the upsurge of violence demonstrates the escalating scope of unrest which was once confined to the main square of the southern city of Oaxaca.
Elsewhere in the country, the intensity of the violence reached a fever-pitched climax with the Ixtapa resort attacks in the state of Guerrero when, on November 7, bombers openly targeted the then incoming President, Felipe Calderón and his predecessor, Vicente Fox. Yesterday, Mexico City was the setting for the unrest when a near riot took place in the Mexican Congress, temporarily preventing Calderón from entering the institution.
The Oaxaca crisis originally started out as a peaceful, state-wide teachers’ strike last May, which rapidly drew allies from civil society organizations, indigenous communities and leftist activists. Within the past few months, however, this ad hoc coalition has morphed into a roiling mass movement which, like a line of fire, quickly spiraled out of control after the more radical wing of its supporters started to use the movement’s banner to cloak their own agenda.
Since the 1980s, the teacher’s union, represented by the Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educación (SNTE), has staged a convention in May to coordinate demands for higher wages, improved worker conditions and additional funds for schools in the more rural parts of the state. This year, as the teachers’ pleas once again went unheeded- if ever seriously examined by the indifferent Secretary of State Secretary Jorge Franco Vargas – a major strike broke out on May 22, essentially coordinated by Section 22, a unit of the SNTE.
On June 14, Oaxaca’s state police, armed with tear gas and automatic weapons, launched a pre-dawn raid in order to evict the demonstrators and level their street camps. This turn of events led to an unprecedented mustering of all sectors of civil society in a vast manifestation against the repressive policies of the Oaxaca governor.
In all, the mobilization combined 70,000 public school teachers and 350 organizations, which rapidly united to form the Popular Assembly of the People of Oaxaca (Asamblea Popular de los Pueblos de Oaxaca – APPO). The coalition occupied the center of the city, blocked the state’s executive, judicial and legislative buildings, erected barricades throughout the central areas of the city and organized several marches in which upwards of 800,000 people participated.
In an attempt to provide a vehicle for the expression of APPO’s perspective, protesters seized radio frequencies such as La Ley, a private radio station, as well as TV channels. APPO soon linked up with other local organizations with deep historical roots to rally behind the teachers in demanding long-term changes that would bring them closer to achieving democratic rule in Oaxaca.
Therefore, the coalition’s goals go well beyond the ousting of Governor Ruiz. APPO also pledges to build a national, non-violent, anti-capitalist movement capable of creating a genuine democracy in which the average citizen actually participates.
On October 29, President Fox sent 4,500 Federal police officers into Oaxaca to retake the city and remove thousands of dissidents from the main square.
The interposition of the Federal Police in Oaxaca was rancorously received… and contributed to the further radicalization of the struggle. The situation prevailing in the city is increasingly anarchic. The APPO’s assembly is in reality far from homogeneous, and aspires to gather an even broader membership of diverse social organizations, political groupings, unions, and human rights organizations, often with distinct political perspectives, agendas and visions. As a result, some manifestations of solidarity with Oaxaca’s protesters have already occurred in the southern states of Michoacán and Chiapas in early November.
Thousands of indigenous residents of Chiapas – who provide a civilian support base for the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) – have made plans to block all major roads and highways in the state in order to prepare for the defense of their counterparts in neighboring Oaxaca.
Further complicating APPO’s desire to conduct a peaceful movement is the new guerilla group, Tendencia Revolucionaria-Ejercito del Pueblo, which has recently announced the launching of a campaign to unify the country’s revolutionary left into a homogenized movement. The faction decided to create the Asamblea Popular de los Pueblos de Mexico (APPM), and offered to work with the EZLN, known for its 1994 revolution in the state of Chiapas, and López Obrador’s National Democratic Convention.
López Obrador, of the PRD, has seen the growing public unrest as an opportunity to win over Oaxaca’s angry activists and possibly utilize the recent abuse against them in his campaign for a parallel government. Instead of denouncing Mexico’s escalating violence, the PRD has expressed its support for the protests, in exchange for APPO’s potential backing of the party’s elected officials.