<i>"The Name of Our Country is América" - Simon Bolivar</i> The Narco News Bulletin<br><small>Reporting on the War on Drugs and Democracy from Latin America
 English | Español August 15, 2018 | Issue #55

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Nineteen Appistas Arrested in Palestine Demonstration

Section 22 Demands and Obtains Their Release

By Nancy Davies
Commentary from Oaxaca

January 4, 2009

The announcement of the Israel invasion of Gaza provoked world-wide pro-Palestine demonstrations, among them a protest march of a small number of adherents to the Asamblea Popular of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO), who on Saturday, January 3, marched from the neighborhood of Siete Regiones to the office of the American consul.

D.R. 2009
The USA’s consular office is located on the main tourist pedestrian street. The front of the building is now spray-painted, and when criminal charges were filed, the charge was defacing property. The “scene of the crime” is pictured in the accompanying photos. I suppose that prompt (illegal) police action came about out of fear of a major protest among tourists, (more of whom are European and national Mexicans, than are Americans), in front of the consular office. (As happened when the US invaded Iraq)

Before the APPO protests against the Israeli invasion could get well underway, the Municipal Police of Oaxaca arrested nineteen protesters, with unjustified roughness, according to accounts published by APPO members present, including those from the anarchist group Vocal, the Casota (a Crespo Street house previously raided by police on December 8, 2008 ), and members of the socialist and communist parties. The protesters were taken to barracks of the State Police, located in the town of San Bartólo Coyotepec.

Later reports state that some were beaten, and their belongings stolen.

As word of the arrests circulated, a crowd of APPO supporters soon appeared at the police quarters, and staged a demonstration and meeting outside its doors. The police responded by spraying tear gas onto the more than seventy people present. Among the meetings’ leaders were directors of Section 22 of the National Education Workers Union (SNTE) , including its secretary Gabriel Lopez Chavez. Also present was the ubiquitous Flavio Sosa Villavicencio.

The leaders of Section 22 demanded and obtained the release of the protesters. So here is what seems important to me (besides support for Palestine):

D.R. 2009
The leaders of Section 22 have now proclaimed more than once that they will hold the APPO together regardless of its anarchist-communist ideological dog-fight. Indeed, among the list of those arrested, I recognized names not only from the anarchist group Vocal, whose main spokesperson is former political prisoner David Venegas, but the names of young Stalinist-communist comrades. Additionally, two people from Chiapas were among the arrested.

More important, Section 22 declares that APPO is theirs, and any attack on the APPO must be construed as an attack on Section 22. I heard Section 22 Secretary General Azael Santiago Chepi previously say as much, and the Noticias newspaper of January 4, 2009 quotes “An aggression against the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca is an aggression against the teachers union and we are going to respond with that understanding.” (Una agresión a la Asamblea Popular de los Pueblos de Oaxaca, es una agresión al magisterio y nosotros vamos a responder en ese sentido).

Section 22 has demanded that internal APPO ideological squabbles be subordinated to the political work at hand. Inevitably, the union must look to the upcoming 2009 elections of eleven federal deputies (representatives to the national congress) from Oaxaca. It is Section 22 that set a date for an assembly meeting of the APPO on February 20, 21 and 22, to be held at the teachers’ hotel in Oaxaca, where ground-rules for the APPO will be examined and restated.

The role of the APPO, for the moment, is to act as front line for Section 22’s political positions. That the APPO might change its ground rules and enter electoral politics remains a wide-open question, a true reversal of the people’s original intention. But the harsh reality is that without a broad front, the PRI may re-take control of the Oaxaca delegation to congress, and in 2010 retain the governorship, both regarded as nasty set-backs for the social movement.

D.R. 2009
My guess is that Section 22 will take a more militant social-communist policy than the APPO has previously espoused, regardless of whether or not the APPO fields political candidates. The evidence of current actions points that way. Furthermore, Section 22 has concrete plans and goals, such as opposing privatization of education and social security reforms, while the APPO, as a body, has not yet been able to articulate goals beyond freeing prisoners and dumping the governor. It relies on its broad ground base to define and deal with local issues, a situation many find good; others find insufficient.

The anarchist group Vocal denounced the newer APPO possibilities, calling the leadership of Section 22 “traitors”, but such well-regarded figures as Dr. Bertha Muñoz has, at least for the present, stood by Section 22 because of its insistence on unity. Others, such as the UABJO sociologist Victor Raúl Martinez Vasquez, simply say, “every person is and has their own APPO”.

Whatever the complaints of anarchists such as Vocal may be, at least they are out of prison – due to the actions and demands of Section 22.

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The Narco News Bulletin: Reporting on the Drug War and Democracy from Latin America