What Is At Stake in Oaxaca: Revolution or Counter-Revolution

CP of Mexico (M-L

Oaxaca, located in the south of Mexico, is the second poorest state in the country after Chiapas, the home of the Zapatistas. It is also the state with the second largest concentration of indigenous people. Some 75% of the population live in extreme poverty, that is, they cannot afford even the basic necessities of life. At the same time, it is a center of the tourist industry. Many immigrants from Oaxaca go to the United States, where they become super-exploited workers. The multinational corporations have their eye on the state’s rich natural resources, and the World Bank, IMF and Mexican government have all encouraged foreign investment while they have discouraged spending on social services.

It was in this context that, in May of last year, the teachers in Oaxaca, through their union, Section 22 of the SNTE (National Union of Education Workers), set up an encampment in the zocalo (main square) of the state capital, also called Oaxaca. They demanded higher wages and better conditions of education for their students. Although this encampment is an annual event, this year the Governor, Ulises Ruiz Ortiz (URO), sent in the police to disband the encampment. Although the teachers were temporarily driven out of the zocalo, they soon returned with allies from the workers, peasants, indigenous people and others and drove the police out, recreating their encampment and setting up barricades around the city.

The protestors formed and organization, the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (Asamblea Popular de los Pueblos de Oaxaca, or APPO, Their demands were expanded to include the resignation of URO, who represents the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which had monopolized the presidency, as well as most state and local governments, for decades until 2000. APPO has held several mass marches of tens and hundreds of thousands of people, some of which led to clashes with the police. They also took over several radio stations, including the one at the local university. The state government was practically paralyzed during this period and URO was not able to appear in public in the state.

In late October, the federal government called in the Federal Preventative Police (PFP), who attacked the protestors. After several days of street fighting, the zocalo was cleared, the barricades were torn down, and the radio stations were returned to their former owners. In the course of the struggle, some dozen protestors have been killed, scores have been wounded, and over 150 have been arrested.

Since this time, APPO has been reorganizing; marches and rallies have been held and similar Assemblies are being organized in other parts of the country. While the attack on APPO has led to a temporary setback, it seems to be on the order of the defeat of the first Russian revolution of 1905, which Lenin described as a dress rehearsal for the revolutions of 1917.

In this article, the comrades in Mexico, who have been deeply involved in the events in Oaxaca and in APPO, give their perspective on the developments there.

George Gruenthal
New York City, USA

Behind the cheerful words and stories, behind the proposals for national unity, the monopolies are desperately confronting the consequences of the crisis with a fascist strategy. The financial oligarchy under Cauldron seeks to unleash an anti-popular offensive on all fronts; it seeks to write with the people’s blood the march of capitalism in crisis.

All these gentlemen who rule over Mexican society want to break the will of the working class, of the poor peasants and the popular strata by ridiculing the forces that are the main ones pushing ahead the march of the revolutionary and democratic process.

This is what they are attempting to do in Oaxaca, to make the exploited and oppressed return to the tradition of meekness, to kill and imprison people everywhere, to manipulate reality claiming that the innocent exploiters have not done anything wrong, they have done everything according to the law, by the rules. They are not even aware that the increase in their business is in proportion to the impoverishment of the workers.

Everything is said and done to hide the deep causes of the inequality and to befog the consciousness of the rest of the population, but a small group of oligarchs are always getting richer at the expense of our inhumane conditions of life.

The bourgeoisie assures us that Oaxaca ‘is returning to normal,’ to the old peace of the grave so that the great business of tourism, the monopolies, bosses, landlords, continues to bear fruit for their bank accounts. The bourgeoisie claim that we the poor are violent people who only think about our social rights, and that therefore the public order must act with the prerogative of ‘killing them in the heat of the moment.’ At the same time the bourgeoisie and their politicians threaten the peoples so that they do not use class violence and so that they resign themselves to accept blows without complaining; but this ultimatum is no longer threatening, and therefore without failing to be an accomplished threat, our daily bread, it is expressed in an insinuation of the class enemy about the things it most fears.

However, the forces that are being worn out day by day are those of the bourgeoisie, which only maintains an attitude of triumph in their statements and means of propaganda, with no orientation besides bloody and repressive action, fabricating crimes, sending those it imprisons to the farthest off jails in the country, to emphasise the ‘danger’ of these people when they become conscious of their role, and thus continuing to perpetrate all the bloody atrocities of the fascist hordes against the rebellious people of Oaxaca.

Meanwhile, the simple people of Oaxaca stand firmly behind their actions, they are taking up the great challenges, they are suffering the consequences of imprisonment, assassinations, disappearances, but above all, they are aware that what they are doing is setting history in motion. The popular sectors realise that this difficult phase is inevitable and necessary to understand the character of the bourgeois State; our people have had to spill their precious blood to understand the bourgeois politics and the nature of capitalism.

Now it is clear that the regime in order to maintain the tyrant Ulises Ruiz using three federal authorities only fulfilled the orders of the monopolies for the region, it fulfilled its class duty; it taught us many more things of great importance for the class struggle. It taught us that the highest interests of the working masses can only be safeguarded by building a proletarian and popular democracy, a new State and a new society that socialises the means of production. The policies of the bourgeoisie in Oaxaca showed that capitalism is not only a decadent regime, but also a regime that should be overthrown by the exploited and oppressed. That is why the bourgeoisie itself, which understands this lesson it has taught the masses; is terrified, it has a class fear of the people whom they have so severely oppressed.

Reality has led us to the firm conviction that only the popular assemblies can become the worthy representatives, defenders and promoters of the interests of the workers; events have placed the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO) in particular in the centre of the organisation of those at the bottom for the building of their own power, to contest with the bourgeoisie for the leadership of society, to reconstitute the vanguard role of the working class as the class that is interested in destroying the regime of private property that subjugates us. Thus the sharpening of the class struggle on the national level and particularly in Oaxaca corroborates the truth of the words of the great teacher of the world proletariat, Vladimir Lenin, that this Assembly of the Soviet type, is ‘the revolutionary-democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasants already accomplished in reality’ (Letters on Tactics [in Lenin Collected Works, Vol. 24]).

The fundamental interest of the poor peasants, of the proletariat, of the democratic teachers, the youth and the various popular sectors, is to maintain and develop the movement for emancipation, to prevent the bourgeoisie from imposing fascism forever; this interest is essential for the exploited and oppressed in the whole country; therefore the immediate task is to unleash a broad popular offensive against the bourgeoisie by beginning a new democratic and revolutionary phase of the class struggle.

Of course we must still confront the expert politicians of the bourgeois parties, people who with their endless blackmail and tricks will try to make black appear white, people who have been defeated completely in Oaxaca, after which they have taken shelter in the arms of the State, in their monopoly of violence. They fall back on the use of their ‘institutional status’ from Mexico City, spitting in the face of the workers when things turn to a class confrontation. In other words, with brutality and contempt for the peoples of Oaxaca, those bourgeois parties, those great politicians, Spino, Palacios Alcocer, Cota Montaño, confirm the role that they are playing in many other atrocities against and robbery of the people, their partnership in various bourgeois positions against you, the exploited and oppressed! They know with all their learning what the bourgeoisie is doing in Oaxaca; after all they accept the fascist method of operation; some state their ‘disagreement’ but nothing more.

The bourgeoisie is conscious of the fact that their power has been fractured, that it is not only their credibility or the disgrace of one of their representatives that has been definitively lost, without hope for recovery; the bourgeoisie and its servants know that things have come to a point of historic rupture in which the revolution of the workers and the peasants threatens to awaken and to throw down to the ground this whole bloody regime, ‘so much powder had accumulated that the guns would start shooting of their own accord’ (Lenin, War and Revolution [Lenin Collected Works, Vol. 24]).

The financial oligarchy has made it so that the teacher, the worker, the peasant, the youth cannot separate their understanding of reality, their suffering, from the bases of the capitalist system. In this year 2006, the national and foreign monopolies, by means of their voracity at the expense of our conditions of life, have given us the greatest lessons against capitalism, they have been the ones who have carried out the best campaign against themselves by leaving us in extreme misery.

What is most important is that in the midst of bourgeois aggressions, the working class and its allies do not lose their orientation; there is no straight line towards the revolution, presently there is a difficult march in the process of the accumulation of forces, difficult and rapid; there is no easy policy to combating our class enemy. Of course there is a proletarian policy of mass actions, of constant actions by the popular organisations in each community, each municipality, each neighbourhood, each district, each city,. There is a tactical line to articulate and put into motion the popular discontent starting from street fighting, resisting the temptations and provocations of the enemy, who has been defeated in various fronts but is looking for an opportunity to unleash the general repression.

This fascist yearning of a decadent class, unable to resolve the crisis by any other means, is in play at this moment; today we are clear that the counter-revolution is being prepared, but it does not find any bases of support for its development; therefore the movement should not provide it any, it should be persistent in maintaining its control of a response at a time when the conditions do not assure the people of success in a military confrontation, although we regret it! Therefore without ceasing to establish our self-defence, our tasks are to agitate and awaken the exploited and oppressed so that they take to the streets and express their class interests, that they organise and position themselves as an independent class opposed to the present regime.

This lofty process in spite of everything is gradual; it passes through the school of mass marches, it is strengthened in organisational democracy around the authority of the APPO, it is reaffirmed in street fighting, it is based firmly in the popular national and international confidence and support.

The bourgeoisie and Ulises Ruiz trust that the APPO is losing its strength, that it is losing its social base. But this is a short-sighted view; it is a subjective wish, that is only supported by repressive methods and the confidence that the power of capital gives it.

In Oaxaca the masses are giving evidence of a combat that is being perfected, with its successes and mistakes, with its advances and retreats, but they are always resisting, always opening new scenes and new forms of showing their interests, of throwing the bourgeois state apparatus off balance, of marching unshakably to a deep and broad popular struggle together with the rest of the country. The popular maturity, the humble appearance of the whole people, their appropriate use of forms of struggle to confront a criminal and shrewd enemy, their firmness in the march towards liberation, the experience accumulated is becoming manifest through enormous sacrifices.

Only the Socialist Revolution Is Change!

Workers of the World, Unite!

Communist Party of Mexico (Marxist-Leninist)
Revolutionary Popular Front
Union of the Revolutionary Youth of Mexico
Revolutionary Workers Current
Union of Education Workers

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