Monday, October 30, 2006


Mexico, October 30

The following are excerpts from interviews of people familiar with the situation in Oaxaca on Amy Goodman's Democracy Now: GUSTAVO ESTEVA: Well, the question was that the teachers started their strike, as usual. Every year, they are forced to do this kind of strike to get some improvement in their terrible conditions, terrible economic condition. But that was not something special. That was the usual thing. But then, after three weeks of their strike, on June 14th, they suffered a terrible, stupid, barbaric repression by the police of Ulises Ruiz, the governor, and that was the detonator of the movement. People started to react immediately, joining and supporting, expressing solidarity with the teachers and expressing the decision to oust the governor. And then this was the detonator of the accumulated discontent of the whole state. After that, five days later, we have APPO, the creation of this Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca. We have a march of almost a million people. That is a third of the population of the state. We have every kind of activities after that, with -- that was the consolidation, the expression of a very well organized discontent of the people. This is a movement without leaders, in which the people themselves, very well organized, with amazing courage and amazing capacity of expressing their will. They are organized first to oust this governor, and then to change our society, to create a different kind of society. We don’t want anymore this kind -- as the woman said, we don’t want anymore this kind of repression, of corrupt government, of imposition of authoritarianism, and we want a different kind of conviviality in our lives. ... GUSTAVO ESTEVA: Well, the disorder has not been created by the people. It has been created by this barbaric, psychopathic governor. You see hired killers, and you’ve seen the structures of authority, that should protect the law, to violate the law. It is not the people themselves who have created disorder in the city. That is the alibi of President Fox, using the police to support this governor in a very peculiar structure of cynicism and complicity. It is a combination that is forcing the people of Oaxaca to pay a very heavy price for a democratic, peaceful struggle. ...JOHN GIBLER: Absolutely. It's really important to remember, and this kind of reinforces Gustavo’s point about who creates disorder in Oaxaca. Since August, paramilitary groups who have been identified in photographs have been driving through the city killing protesters at barricades, and they’ve been doing this with total impunity. The fact that they’ve claimed to have apprehended and turned over to authorities the five gunmen who were killing people on Friday is of little consolation, since they’ve had these people identified for months. And the very authorities themselves have taken steps back to actually trying to enforce the law and bring the gunmen to any kind of justice. Both the government and most of the press, especially the international press, has made much more of a fuss about protesters wearing bandannas and spray painting pretty buildings than they have about paramilitary death squads who have been driving around town, with total impunity, killing people for months. The key points are these: 1. The movement in Oaxaca is very broad-based. 2. The governor of Oaxaca, Ulises Ruiz Ortiz, is very corrupt. 3. The governor of Oaxaca used violence and repression to try to frighten those who stood against him into submission. 4. The Mexican government has violently occupied Oaxaca, but refuses to investigate corruption and murder on the part of Governor Ortiz. 5. Since there is no attempt by the federal government to redress citizen grievances regarding corruption and violence, one may conclude that the Mexican government has acted in complicity with Ruiz Ortiz. These things, I think, are self-evidently true. Some may argue that violence and repression are justified. But to do so, they must avoid looking at these facts, since if they concede these facts, they must also concede that there needs to be a serious, independent investigation of the actions of Ruiz Ortiz and Fox.
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