“No Truce; Not One Step Back”
Oaxaca Popular Assembly Holds its Fifth Meeting, Refuses To Recognize The State Government and Vows to Install a Popular Government on July 5
By Nancy Davies
Commentary from Oaxaca
July 1, 2006
OAXACA CITY: The federal election will take place on time in Oaxaca. The Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI in its Spanish initials) government of the state will be put aside on July 5.
The fifth popular assembly (Asamblea Popular del Pueblo de Oaxaca, known as APPO) took place Friday morning, June 30 in the city of Oaxaca. The consensus of the assembly was first that the effort to oust Governor Ulises Ruiz Ortiz (URO) will not be abandoned. The removal of the governor unites everyone, and is the first goal of the statewide social movement which has now grown well beyond any teachers’ strike.
During the weekend and during the July 2 presidential election, the strike is in a holding pattern – literally holding the zocalo and surrounding streets. The first concern is that the election not be declared illegal, giving the federal government an excuse to discount the votes of Oaxaqueños. The voters are told to be careful marking their ballots, the poll watchers careful to avoid any illegality.
The second consensus urges that people vote a “punishment” vote, meaning against the PRI or the National Action Party (PAN) candidates. While asserting that there is no guarantee of change through any of the present political parties, the public is encouraged: “Don’t stay home watching soap operas or soccer (fútbol), go vote.” It won’t be “all the same” to elect as president either Madrazo (PRI) or López Obrador (Party of the Democratic Revolution, PRD) – “there will be six years of the new president”. APPO recognizes that political parties exist, but citizens ought to vote for critical and thoughtful reasons, not for a pay-off.
APPO is planning how to take the reins of government away from the established powers: the governor; the Secretary of Government, Jorge Franco Vargas; and the Director of Public Security, Jose Manuel Vera Salinas. They are verbally referred to as a “trio de locos” a trio of madmen. URO personally, and the government officials in general, are referred to as mapaches (weasels), rateros (thieves), and perros (dogs); they are denounced as mafiosos, fascists and assassins. They are the elite, who don’t represent the people.
APPO gives the date of Wednesday, July 5 to install a popular government in the old city government building recently converted by URO into a museum. The laws of the state, according to one assembly participant, are “leyes de chicle” – they are laws of chewing gum, meaning they stretch and bend at the will of the current rulers.
After the election several actions are anticipated to keep the pressure on URO. Among them are: no further recognition of the PRI government of URO; on July 4 blockading the principal highways in Oaxaca including Huajuapan-Puebla, Isthmus-Chiapas, Isthmus-Veracruz, Pinotepa-Acapulco and Teotitlan-Tehuacan;. The first Permanent State Assembly (Asamblea Estatal Permanente) on July 4 will be followed on July 5 by the installation of the new popular government. The long-range plans include a rewritten constitution for the state, and eventually (very long-range) for the nation.
Collection of citizens’ signatures for presentation to the federal Congress continues. The executive, judicial and legislative offices will be blockaded, along with commercial and financial centers. An alternative Guelaguetza (July celebration of the peoples of Oaxaca) is planned.
All actions will be pacific. Efforts will be made to counter the government propaganda (see photo of public posting of government salaries, right). There is recognition of the possibility of government attacks against individuals – since attacking the encampment ended in failure – with its attendant need for mutual protection.
APPO recognizes that leadership of the state must shift from Section 22 of the teachers’ union to the general population, in order to concretize the plans now being made. After the installation of a new government, APPO recognizes, dependence on the general population will be even stronger. To encourage public support (especially in the occupation of the zocalo by volunteers from nearby towns) people will participate in more local or organization assemblies, where a diversity of peoples and opinions will be respected, and people can evaluate the situation and make proposals. APPO is envisioned as the permanent body governing in benefit of the majority. It is referred to as a “different participative democracy,” not oppositional like traditional political parties, but united despite differences of ideas and ideologies.
APPO attendees say that the assembly is not dominated by intellectuals or political radical groups. It is, they affirm, a political movement of the people, largely served by non-governmental organizations, to establish a political space to break both the political and legal stranglehold of the PRI. The public has demonstrated support for APPO with four “mega-marches,” each larger than its predecessor.
The new government, according to the APPO participants, will not permit repression of students, workers, campesinos or the general public. There will be no attacks or political arrests, and the current political prisoners will be released.
URO has been consistently condemned during the preceding month for repression, the June 14 attack on sleeping teachers, the destruction of Oaxaca’s cultural patrimony, the assassination of campesinos and taxi drivers, the theft of natural resources to enrich the elite while the general population lives in poverty, for corruption and theft, and for submitting to the privatization demanded by the USA and World Bank.
A statewide general and civic strike is called for July 6.
It should be noted — the information presented here is public information. It appears on printed handouts, and has been explained on Radio Universidad, the radio station of the Autonomous University Benito Juarez of Oaxaca (UABJO). The revolution is not a secret plot. It’s a grand public movement.
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