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Special from Mexico: The Oaxaca Commune on alert
by Mario Caballero
Monday Oct 9th, 2006 4:41 PM
Regarding self-defense, the first State Assembly of Oaxaca set out several measures, some of the most important are: "a self-defense plan which includes: an organizational structure for the neighborhoods and the functioning of the barricades (. . .) Activating three mobile brigades: to take a look at and analyze URO's provocation of reopening the schools (. . .) Setting up regional barricades in the places which would be considered strategic for a possible repression. organizing open forums from one camp to another to advise on the setting up of barricades, minimum knowledge about human rights, on the importance of contributions of cameras, lamps, pre-paid cellular phones, etc., with the aim of organizing self-defense correctly. Prove all the physical and psychological harm caused to the people of Oaxaca by the state government" (Resolution of the First State Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca, October 3).
[Translator' s note: I am happy to send in this interview of cde. Mario Caballero, a good friend and generous host, who is in Oaxaca. –Yosef M]

Special from Mexico: The Oaxaca Commune on alert From La Verdad Obrera 207 (Buenos Aires) October 5, 2006

Defend the Oaxaca Commune against the attacks and maneuvers of the government and the regime

At press time, the new call from the federal government to the representatives of the Asamblea Popular de los Pueblos de Oaxaca [APPO, the Popular Assembly], for Thursday, October 5 became known. On October 4, the APPO had refused to sit in negotiations with businessmen and the church, a plan by which the government was trying to dilute the weight of the APPO and press for negotiations under unfavorable conditions. During recent days the government set up a big military operation around Oaxaca City and is continuing provocations against the heroic struggle of the people of Oaxaca. Threats of repression are increasing, showing to what extent the government is willing to go to force the Oaxaca Commune to yield.

We interviewed Mario Caballero, leader of the Liga de Trabajadores por el Socialismo-- Contracorriente (LTS—CC), a fraternal group of the PTS [Socialist Workers Party of Argentina] in Mexico and a member group of the Fracción Trotskista—Cuarta Internacional, who is in Oaxaca.

The Vicente Fox (PAN) government and the communications media are keeping up hard talk against the APPO and the teachers, even though negotiations are continuing. Tell us about the situation today in Oaxaca.

MC [Mario Caballero]: To begin with, I must say that in the conference held by the leadership of Section 22 of the CNTE (teachers' union), the majority voted for continuing the strike that has now lasted more than 140 days. Thus the rank and file teachers imposed their views on the negotiating policy of the leadership, personified in the leader Rueda Pacheco. At the same time, parents and students have been on the radios exhorting not to stop the strike: ". . . I prefer that my daughter not go to classes, but that Ulises Ruiz not return, the people are supporting [the striking teachers], if you stop the sit-in, you will lose all your support from the people of Oaxaca. . ." In spite of the attempts of Carlos Abascal, the Secretary of the Interior, to arrive at negotiations with the APPO and the teachers' leaders, the bases [rank and file people] have put forward an iron resistance against "cooling-off measures" and are maintaining their demand, "URO (Governor Ulises Ruiz Ortiz) get out."

At the same time, the Caravan-March to the Distrito Federal [Mexico City], headed by the APPO, the teachers' union and the Coordinadora de Mujeres Oaxaqueñas [COMO, Oaxaca Womens' Coordinating Committee], continues its course. Declarations by Fox, which offer a choice between "dialogue and punishment," threaten impending repression, showing that the government is willing to close the six years [of Fox's presidential term] with a blood bath, to clear the way for Felipe Calderón and put an end to the most heroic struggle in recent years: the Oaxaca Commune. However, [government] is keeping up a line of constant negotiations, in order to try to erode and break the Oaxaca Commune from within, because of the high costs of a military eviction [of striking teachers from the Oaxaca city square], which would weaken the next government, imposed by fraud, even more, although it is not clear that this alternative would be sufficient to dismantle this big struggle.

What repercussions did the threats to send in the [militarized] Federal Preventive Police [PFP] cause in Oaxaca?

MC: In Oaxaca there is a big willingness to resist repression. Faced with rumors of the entry of the Army to "guarantee order" and the military helicopters' overflights of the sit-in in the city square, the barricades were improved and reorganized, some of them were even formed spontaneously, the workers, women and students remain determined. In spite of the permanent tension, people's spirits are generally good, although it is still not clear what the response would be, if soldiers arrive.

From the LTS—CC, we believe that it is essential that the APPO, the CNTE and the workers' and peoples' organizations organize a new mega-march so that there are hundreds of thousands who could put a stop to a threat of repression, a general strike in Oaxaca State to force Ulises Ruiz to leave and for the immediate withdrawal of the Army and the PFP.

Regarding self-defense, the first State Assembly of Oaxaca set out several measures, some of the most important are: "a self-defense plan which includes: an organizational structure for the neighborhoods and the functioning of the barricades (. . .) Activating three mobile brigades: to take a look at and analyze URO's provocation of reopening the schools (. . .) Setting up regional barricades in the places which would be considered strategic for a possible repression. organizing open forums from one camp to another to advise on the setting up of barricades, minimum knowledge about human rights, on the importance of contributions of cameras, lamps, pre-paid cellular phones, etc., with the aim of organizing self-defense correctly. Prove all the physical and psychological harm caused to the people of Oaxaca by the state government" (Resolution of the First State Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca, October 3).

What perspectives do you believe the struggle of Oaxaca presents in the present situation in Mexico?

MC: For almost 5 months, the workers and people of Oaxaca have been ready to struggle, resorting to radicalized methods (like the strike and the confrontation with the police) and controlling big parts of the city. While the APPO is acting in deeds like an incipient power of the masses in struggle, the Oaxaca Commune marks the road to follow to confront an anti-democratic and repressive regime of rule by alternating parties, the PRI, the PAN and the PRD of López Obrador and Cárdenas. This is why Fox and the regime want to put an end to this struggle, since the fall of the governor through mobilization and struggle would set a dangerous precedent. For that reason the most important military operation since 1994 (against the Zapatista uprising) has been deployed, to intimidate and repress the resistance of the people of Oaxaca, headed by the APPO and the Oaxaca Women's Commission.

And, if this generalized repression is not launched, Fox wants to force the people of Oaxaca to accept deceitful negotiations that cannot solve their fundamental demands. The "negotiations" proposed by the government appeared as a deception to corner the APPO, first inviting it to a table together with businessmen and the church, and now going to a "separate table" where they will try to deceive the movement and force its most determined sectors to yield. A real fraud in the service of doing away with this big struggle, that shows "calls to harmony" must not be trusted. In the DF [Mexico City] and the whole country, we in unions and political and social organizations must get mobilized now, to curb repression in solidarity with Oaxaca. The hundreds of thousands who demonstrated against the fraud, the workers who resist the government's plans, the organizations which form "the Other Campaign," should move urgently, with a policy independent of the parties of the regime, against any attempt at repression.

To win the demands of the teachers and the people of Oaxaca, beginning with the fall of Ulises Ruiz, the main task is to deepen the mobilization and the struggle, aiming at imposing a rovisional government by the APPO and the workers' and popular organizations, and extending the solidarity movement to a national level, with the perspective of a big national struggle against the entire regime. For that, it is essential to generalize the experience of the APPO, by taking up again its methods and organization, by promoting a National Strike in solidarity with Oaxaca and the APPO.


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