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Oaxaca, solitary and in flames

Party of Democratic Revolution won’t defend Oaxaca

Thursday 2 November 2006, by Adolfo Gilly

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After a long hot summer of struggle in Mexico, the outgoing Fox government has sent paramilitaries and regular troops to crush the near-insurrectionary Oaxaca movement. Adolfo Gilly here slams the centre-left PRD leadership for failing to defend Oaxaca. See end of article for this text in Spanish and Italian.

Introduction by International Viewpoint

In 2006 Mexico has been wracked by huge popular protests, which in turn have been met by brutal repression. The signal for the confrontation was the ‘Other Campaign’ waged by Subcommandante Marcos and the Zapatista leadership. Launched in 2005, the campaign aims to unify Mexico’s disparate popular, indigenous and left wing movements in a struggle to reconstruct Mexico from below. This was an immensely positive and daring move by the EZLN to break their isolation in the Chiapas mountains and start to give leadership on an all-Mexico basis.

Paramilitary police and soldiers attack Oaxaca protestors

In May, following a visit by Marcos to the radical community of San Salvador Atenco in Mexico State, the Fox government staged a police provocation which led to a massive attack on the town, resulting in two dead, dozens badly hurt and more than 40 women raped or otherwise sexually abused. This in turn led to nationwide and international protests.

Meanwhile, a mass movement led by the teachers union in the southern Pacific state of Oaxaca became a rallying point for a massive movement calling for the ousting of Ulises Ruiz Ortiz, the ultra-corrupt governor of Oaxaca state and a member of the right wing PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party). While the teachers and the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO) brought the state capital (also called Oaxaca) to a standstill and occupied the central square and main government buildings, Ruiz Ortiz replied by using gangs of hired thugs to beat and assassinate protestors. A brutal attempt by paramilitary police in August to clear the centre of the city was eventually defeated, with an unknown number of deaths.

Simultaneous with the Oaxaca movement however was the drama of June’s presidential election, ‘won’ by rightwing PAN candidate Felipe Calderón through massive electoral fraud, thus ‘defeating’ the centre-left candidate, Andrés Manuel López Obrador of the centre left PRD (Party of the Democratic Revolution). For more than a month after the fraudulent election, PRD supporters and sympathizers blockaded huge areas of Mexico City with a massive encampment, a huge embarrassment to the PAN government. Eventually however the PRD called off the protests. The PAN government colluded with the PRI to use its now more secure position to step up violence against the popular movement in Oaxaca. At least 15 have been killed.

On October 29 thugs hired by killed two protestors and Brad Will, an American film-maker affiliated to New York Indymedia. Fox used this violence to send 3,500 police and troops to Oaxaca to crush the movement by force. Here we publish an article by Adolfo Gilly, published in the centre-left daily La Jornada on November 1, which is a stinging rebuke to the leadership of the PRD - of which he is a prominent member - for failing to defend Oaxaca from state violence.

A link to the November 1 declaration of the EZLN in defence of Oaxaca can be found at the end of Gilly’s article. The Italian and Spanish texts follow the English version. (PH)

The Democratic Revolution Party Isn’t Willing, Nor can it Mobilize, to Defend the Popular Movement in Oaxaca

Adolfo Gilly, La Jornada, November 1.

The entire structure of political organizations and institutionalized labor unions are, in spite of their differences, leaving Oaxaca in solitude during these crucial moments. No great social mobilizations have sprung up, like the ones that were started to stop the war against zapatismo in 1994, not like the mobilizations that arose against the Acteal massacre. The electoral routine, that is, the logic of the existing institutions, has taken over every social mobilization. There are a few declarations and a few protests, but no great mobilization of forces like the one organized in the electoral dispute.

The Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) is absorbed in the congressional aspect of the dispute. In Congress, the PRD voted in favor of the disappearance of power in Oaxaca and asked for a political trial. If that didn’t work, too bad, we saved our honor and we’re off for the extended weekend. All of the governors chosen by the PRD, including the one from the Federal District, signed next to Ulises Ruíz during the Conago (National Conference of Governors). The CND (the National Democratic Convention organized by Andrés Manuel López Obrador), a motive for so many illusions and bewilderments, has demonstrated its inexistence for all practical effects, except the vote recount.

The old pact between the PAN (National Action Party) and the PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party) has now mobilized in support of Ulises Ruíz and against the people of Oaxaca, making them responsible for fifteen deaths in Oaxaca so far. This has to uphold a repudiated governor and oppose a legitimate social movement of the people of Oaxaca. Now, they have imposed the PFP (Federal Preventive Police) and military soldiers dressed as PFP, another sign of their impotency and discredit, all to achieve political solutions as they were often achieved in the past.

The PRI-PAN pact is no novelty. It comes from the PAN’s foundation in 1939, as the legal inheritor of sinarquismo (a largely religious social movement in the 1920s and 1930s against what would later become the PRI) and of the political voice of the ecclesiastical hierarchy and of Mexican conservatives. This pact always came into action during crucial moments: the repression of the rail workers’ strike in 1959, the student movement of 1968, the dirty war of the 1970s, the neo-liberal restructuring begun in 1982, the 1988 voting fraud (with its sequel of hundreds of PRD members killed as well as others, since political resistance then was no joke), the burning of the certificates of the election in 1991, the disappearance of articles 27 and 130 of the constitution, the signing of NAFTA, the repression in Chiapas since 1994, the rupture of the San Andrés accords and the vote against the Cocopa law, the Fobaproa (the agreement to absorb the private bankers’ debt into public debt), the pact of buffoons where 360 congressmen of both parties voted in favor of stripping Andrés Manuel López Obrador of his political rights to become a presidential candidate (an initiative that didn’t prosper because of massive popular discontent), the refusal of recounting the votes in the 2006 election. The list is endless and without significant exceptions.

Today, the PRD, with both of its masks, the institutional one called the “Front to Extend Progress” and the pseudo-institutional mask called the “Democratic National Convention” isn’t willing, nor can it mobilize the popular forces that it assembled in the capital’s main square in September against the electoral fraud, to support Oaxaca and to repudiate the repression of the federal government. Fortunately, La Jornada and several other medias (including Indymedia, that already paid with the life of one of its reporters), in addition to the innumerable individual voices, preserve information, protest and create indignation (cheers Blanche, always there!). But their task isn’t, and can’t be, the organization of the movement. The task applies to those that were given fifteen million votes in July and that hold, as was confirmed, the right apparatus. But nothing is coming from that way. They simply repeat the same things they said about the Atenco repression.

The letter written by Andrés Manuel López Obrador, published Sunday October 29th in La Jornada, isn’t acceptable. He limits himself to denounce the actions of the police, the pact between the PAN and the PRI, and the “sinister and repressive” government of Ulises Ruíz. He declares that the governor’s resignation is the only possible solution and he reminds the readers that in the July election most oaxaqueños voted for him. That is it.

One would expect that the sequel to these affirmations would be to call for a large mobilization in the Federal District and in other places of the country in support of the oaxaqueño movement, against the murders of Ulises Ruíz’s paramilitaries and against the repression of the federal government. A call like this one, coming from a man that got fifteen million votes, would overfill the capital’s mains square and many other plazas around the country. A mere late accusation, as is written in his letter, is useless.

As I write these lines, Oaxaca is being occupied by federal forces that the PAN government has launched in defense of the murderous governor of the PRI. Today two more people have been killed. I don’t ask the leaders of the CND to mobilize their forces in the public squares and in the places of work and study of the country, first of all because I know they won’t, and secondly because they don’t have the influence to mobilize these forces. Neither do I ask the leader of the opposition, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, since his letter states that he doesn’t have the intention of doing so.

In the presence of the indignation and astonishment of the Mexican people, who once more contemplate how the repressive forces of the federal government attack a massive and legitimate popular movement and try to corner it and drive it to extremes and misbehavior; in the presence of protests, denunciations, mobilizations of popular support, human rights and other organizations - those not counted as major forces - the silence and the passivity of the large organizations leave Oaxaca standing alone, with its own forces, its own courage, its own ability to mobilize and its own and ancient organizational framework.

As in the unforgettable verse of the poet of Muerte sin fin (Death without end), Oaxaca is now the “solitude in flames.” The people of Oaxaca will leave this trial beaten up, but possibly more organized. Meanwhile, the vote collectors will have new occasions to remember other verses: “We are the ones who carry and we ride on the path / and everyone will get what they deserve.”

October 30 2006

Read the EZLN declaration on Oaxaca

View info on Gilly’s Mexican revolution book

In Italiano

Oaxaca, solitudine in fiamme

Il Partito della Rivoluzione Democratica (PRD) non vuole né può mobilitare in difesa di Oaxaca

di Adolfo Gilly, La Jornada

30 ottobre 2006

L’insieme delle organizzazioni politiche e sindacali istituzionali, a dispetto delle loro differenze, nel momento della prova stanno lasciando Oaxaca nella solitudine. Niente delle grandi manifestazioni che si fecero per fermare la guerra contro lo zapatismo nel 1994, nemmeno di quelle realizzate contro il massacro di Acteal. La routine elettorale, cioè, la logica delle istituzioni esistenti, anche sia per vituperarle a parole dal di fuori, li ha vinti tutti. Ci sono dichiarazioni, anche proteste, ma di mobilitare forze come hanno fatto pochissimo tempo fa nella disputa elettorale, niente.

Il PRD è assorbito dalla disputa parlamentare. Nel Congresso ha chiesto cancellazione di poteri e processo politico. Se non si è riusciti, va bene, salviamo il nostro onore ed andiamo avanti. I governatori eletti dal PRD, tutti, compreso quello del Distretto Federale, hanno firmato nella Conago insieme a Ulises Ruiz. La CND, motivo di tante illusioni ed abbagli, ha dimostrato la sua inesistenza a tutti gli effetti pratici, salvo la raccolta di voti e la disputa per questi.

Il vecchio patto tra il PAN ed il PRI, mobilitato ora in difesa di Ulises Ruiz e contro il popolo oaxaqueño, conta già15 morti a Oaxaca per sostenere un governatore ripudiato ed opporsi ad un movimento sociale legittimo del popolo oaxaqueño. Ora hanno portato la PFP ed elementi militari mascherati da PFP, una dimostrazione in più della loro impotenza e discredito per raggiungere soluzioni politiche, come usavano ottenerle in passato.

Il patto PRI-PAN non è una novità. Viene dalla fondazione dal PAN nel 1939, come erede legale del sinarquismo e voce politica della gerarchia ecclesiastica e dei conservatori messicani. Non ha mai cessato di funzionare nei momenti cruciali: nella repressione dello sciopero dei ferrovieri nel 1959, del movimento studentesco popolare del 1968, nella guerra sporca degli anni ‘70, la ristrutturazione neoliberale del 1982, la frode del 1988 (con la sua sequela di centinaia di morti del PRD ed altri, perché la resistenza allora non fu un gioco), l’incendio dei verbali nel 1991, la liquidazione degli articoli 27 e 130 della Costituzione, la firma del TLCAN, la repressione in Chiapas del 1994, la rottura degli accordi di San Andrés ed il voto contro la legge Cocopa, il Fobaproa, il patto dei buffoni dove 360 deputati di entrambi i partiti votarono uniti l’impossibile esautoramento di López Obrador, il rifiuto di verificare il risultato elettorale del 2006 con un nuovo conteggio dei voti. La lista è interminabile e non riporta importanti lacune.

Oggi il PRD con le sue due maschere, quella istituzionale chiamato Fronte Ampio Progressista e quella paraistituzionale chiamata Convenzione Nazionale Democratica, non vuole né può mobilitare, in difesa di Oaxaca e contro la repressione del governo federale, le forze popolari che solo a settembre riunì nello Zócalo contro la frode elettorale. Per fortuna La Jornada ed altri media (uno di questi, Indymedia, ha giàpagato con la vita di uno dei suoi reporter), cos’ come molti voci individuali, mantengono l’informazione, la protesta e l’indignazione (ciao Blanche, sempre sul posto!). Ma il loro compito non è, non può essere, organizzare la mobilitazione. Questo tocca a quelli che a luglio hanno avuto 15 milioni di voti e dispongono, come allora si vide, dell’apparato adeguato. Ma da questa parte, niente. Con Oaxaca ripetono la stessa cosa fatta con la repressione di Atenco, che annunciava giàquali sarebbero stati i metodi d’ora in poi.

La lettera di Andrés Manuel López Obrador, pubblicata domenica 29 ottobre ne La Jornada, non è accettabile. Si limita a denunciare l’azione poliziesca, il patto tra il PAN ed il PRI ed il governo “sinistro e repressore” di Ulises Ruiz. Dichiara che le dimissioni di quest’ultimo è l’unica soluzione possibile e ricorda che nelle elezioni del luglio scorso la maggioranza degli oaxaqueños votò per la sua candidatura. È tutto.

Il seguito di queste constatazioni si può supporre che sarebbe chiamare ad una grande mobilitazione nel Distretto Federale ed in altri posti della Repubblica in difesa del movimento oaxaqueño, contro gli omicidi dei paramilitari di Ulises Ruiz e contro la repressione del governo federale. Una chiamata così, venendo di chi ha avuto 15 milioni di voti, riempirebbe lo Zócalo ed altre numerose piazze della Repubblica. Una mera denuncia tardiva e nient’altro, così com’è il contenuto di quella lettera, non serve a niente.

Mentre scrivo queste righe, Oaxaca è occupata dalle forze federali che il governo del PAN ha scatenato in difesa di un governatore assassino del PRI. Oggi ci sono altri due morti. Non chiedo ai dirigenti della CND di mobilitare le loro forze nelle piazze e sui luoghi di lavoro e studio della Repubblica, primo perché non lo faranno, secondo perché neanche dispongono di esse. Non lo chiedo nemmeno al capo dell’opposizione, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, perché la sua lettera dice che non ha neppure l’intenzione di farlo.

Di fronte all’indignazione ed allo sbalordimento del popolo messicano che contempla attonito, ancora una volta, come le forze repressive del governo federale attaccano un movimento popolare di massa e legittimo e cercano di rinchiuderlo e spingerlo agli estremi ed agli eccessi; e davanti alla protesta, le denunce e le mobilitazioni di organizzazioni popolari, dei diritti umani e di altre che attualmente non dispongono di forze maggiori, il silenzio e la passivitàdelle grandi organizzazioni lascia Oaxaca aggrappata alle proprie forze, al suo coraggio, alla sua capacitàdi manovra ed alla sua stessa ed antica struttura organizzativa.

Come nel verso indimenticabile del poeta di Morte senza fine, Oaxaca è oggi la “solitudine in fiamme”. Il paese-popolo di Oaxaca potràuscire da questa prova colpito, ma probabilmente più organizzato. I collettori di voti, da parte loro, avranno l’occasione di ricordare altri versi: “ Siamo mulattieri che sulla strada andiamo / ed ognuno avràquel che si merita“.

En español

Oaxaca, soledad en llamas

El conjunto de organizaciones políticas y sindicales institucionales, pese a sus diferencias entre sí, en la hora de la prueba están dejando a Oaxaca en la soledad. Nada de las grandes manifestaciones que salieron a detener la guerra contra el zapatismo en 1994, ni siquiera de las que se alzaron contra la masacre de Acteal. La rutina electoral, es decir, la lógica de las instituciones existentes, así sea para vituperarlas de labios para afuera, los ha ganado a todos. Declaraciones hay, protestas también, pero de movilizar fuerzas como pudieron hacer muy poco ha en la disputa electoral, nada.

El PRD está absorbido por la disputa parlamentaria. En el Congreso pidió desaparición de poderes y juicio político. Si no se pudo, ni modo, ya salvamos nuestro honor y nos vamos de puente. Los gobernadores elegidos por el PRD, todos, incluido el del Distrito Federal, firmaron en la Conago junto a Ulises Ruiz. La CND, motivo de tantas ilusiones y encandilamientos, ha demostrado su inexistencia a todos los efectos prácticos, salvo la recolección de votos y la disputa por ellos.

El viejo pacto entre el PAN y el PRI, movilizado ahora en defensa de Ulises Ruiz y contra el pueblo oaxaqueño, ya lleva 15 muertos en Oaxaca para sostener a un gobernador repudiado y oponerse a un legítimo movimiento social del pueblo oaxaqueño. Ahora han metido a la PFP y a elementos militares disfrazados de PFP, una muestra más de su impotencia y descrédito para alcanzar soluciones políticas, como en cambio solían lograrlo en el pasado.

El pacto PRI-PAN no es una novedad. Viene desde la fundación del PAN en 1939, como heredero legal del sinarquismo y voz política de la jerarquía eclesiástica y de los conservadores mexicanos. Nunca dejó de funcionar en los momentos cruciales: en la represión a la huelga ferrocarrilera de 1959, el movimiento estudiantil popular de 1968, la guerra sucia de los años 70, la restructuración neoliberal desde 1982, el fraude de 1988 (con su secuela de cientos de muertos del PRD y otros, porque la resistencia entonces no fue juego), la quema de las actas en 1991, la liquidación de los artículos 27 y 130 constitucionales, la firma del TLCAN, la represión en Chiapas desde 1994, la ruptura de los acuerdos de San Andrés y el voto contra la ley Cocopa, el Fobaproa, el pacto de bufones donde 360 diputados de ambos partidos votaron unidos el imposible desafuero de López Obrador, la negativa a que se verificara el resultado electoral de 2006 en un nuevo conteo de los votos. La lista es interminable y no registra fallas importantes.

Hoy el PRD con sus dos máscaras, la institucional llamada Frente Amplio Progresista y la parainstitucional llamada Convención Nacional Democrática, no quiere ni puede movilizar, en defensa de Oaxaca y contra la represión del gobierno federal, a las fuerzas populares que apenas en septiembre reunió en el Zócalo contra el fraude electoral. Por fortuna La Jornada y varios otros medios (uno de ellos, Indymedia, ya pagó con la vida de uno de sus reporteros), así como incontables voces individuales, mantienen la información, la protesta y la indignación (¡salud, Blanche, siempre en el lugar!). Pero su tarea no es, no puede ser, organizar la movilización. Ella corresponde a quienes tuvieron en julio 15 millones de votos y cuentan, como entonces se vio, con el aparato adecuado. Pero por este lado, nada. Repiten con Oaxaca lo mismo que hicieron con la represión sobre Atenco, que ya anunciaba cuáles serían los métodos en adelante.

La carta de Andrés Manuel López Obrador, publicada el domingo 29 de octubre en La Jornada, no es aceptable. Se limita a denunciar la acción policial, el pacto entre el PAN y el PRI y el gobierno "siniestro y represor" de Ulises Ruiz. Declara que la renuncia de éste es la única solución posible y recuerda que en la elección de julio pasado la mayoría de los oaxaqueños votó por su candidatura. Es todo.

La secuela de estas constataciones puede suponerse que sería llamar a una gran movilización en el Distrito Federal y en otros lugares de la República en defensa del movimiento oaxaqueño, contra los asesinatos de los paramilitares de Ulises Ruiz y contra la represión del gobierno federal. Un llamado así, viniendo de quien tuvo 15 millones de votos, llenaría a desbordar el Zócalo y otras muchas plazas de la República. Una mera denuncia tardía y nada más, como es el contenido de aquella carta, no sirve para nada.

Cuando escribo estas líneas, Oaxaca está siendo ocupada por las fuerzas federales que el gobierno del PAN ha lanzado en defensa de un gobernador asesino del PRI. Hoy hay dos muertos más. No pido a los dirigentes de la CND que movilicen sus fuerzas en las plazas y los centros de trabajo y estudio de la República, primero porque no lo harán, segundo porque tampoco disponen de ellas. Tampoco lo pido al jefe de la oposición, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, porque su carta dice que tampoco tiene intención de hacerlo.

Ante la indignación y el pasmo del pueblo mexicano, que contempla atónito como una vez más las fuerzas represivas del gobierno federal atacan a un movimiento popular masivo y legítimo y tratan de acorralarlo y empujarlo a los extremos y a los desmanes; y ante la protesta, las denuncias y las movilizaciones de organizaciones populares, de derechos humanos y otras, que hoy por hoy no disponen de fuerzas mayores, el silencio y la pasividad de las grandes organizaciones deja a Oaxaca librada a sus propias fuerzas, a su coraje, a su capacidad de maniobra y a su propio y antiguo entramado organizativo.

Como en el verso inolvidable del poeta de Muerte sin fin, Oaxaca es hoy la "soledad en llamas". El pueblo-pueblo de Oaxaca podrá salir de esta prueba golpeado, pero posiblemente más organizado. Los recolectores de votos, por su parte, ya tendrán ocasión de recordar otros versos: "Arrieros somos y en el camino andamos / y cada quien tendrá su merecido".