Sunday, November 05, 2006


Mexico, November 5th

UPDATE: A film with English and Spanish text showing the events of recent days. All bets for an end to the teachers strike in Oaxaca are probably off. A lot of the teachers are incensed by the attack on the university, in which many totally baseless arrests were made (as evidenced by the subsequent release of those seized) and in which many people have simply disappeared. But the march today went off without incident. So far, anyway. [UPDATE: A student was shot near the university. A student, Marcos Manuel Sánchez Martínez, was shot twice, apparently from both sides, and was injured in the arm and the thorax.] Radio APPO is alleging that the water cannon contained a substance that caused an allergic skin reaction (11/4, 22:30 Central). It was separately reported that it did contain a dye that people believe was for identifying protestors. Puebla has formed an organization similar to APPO A little too late, the attorney general's office (PGR) will investigate the death squads. Arturo Chavez of Gobernacion states that there is no evidence for the presence of a single guerrilla in Oaxaca. Repeat: Not one guerrilla in Oaxaca. PRD counselor emerita, Rosa Albina Garavito says that the intervention of federal police (PFP) in Oaxaca has strengthened the popular insurrection. She says that the deals that PAN cut with PRI to guarantee the election have boomeranged against Calderon. The power vacuum created by the the collapse of the imperial presidency has been filled not with democratic rule, but with the strengthening of strongmen (caciques). In an article that suffers from the same sort of vagueness and bad faith which its author blames on others, Professor of political science Mauricio Merino discusses the political arithmetic behind Oaxaca. He blames the machismo of local leaders. He says no one can defend the methods of either the teachers's Local 22 nor the government. They are both mafias and equally bad. But even worse is the national government which has avoided entry into local conflicts, which serves the political arithmetic of exposing how deficient local governments are to the benefit of PAN. If the cost of the conflict was just the fall of Ulises Ortiz, FOX and PAN would pay it. But after the elections of July 2nd, APPO took control of the social movement and made it impossible for the government to use force. And the PRI became an indispensable partner to PAN. This may be the cynical view of many Mexicans, that they are all just bad people and there's nothing good to choose, but I think it's somewhat different. In between the myth of the left, that those rising up are all poor and heroic, and that those engaged in repressing them are all rich and reprehensible is a more complex truth. How complex it is was brought home to me by material provided by a poster, Manuel, by e-mail: A blog post and an article from Ricardo Aleman from El Universal. They claim that the teachers were paid all through the strike. In fact, this appears not to be quite correct. According to the LA Times salaries were stopped in late September. But NarcoNews says that they were withheld from the beginning. It's certainly difficult to believe that checks were getting cut while the province was in such an uproar. A better guess is that the salaries were held in trust with the assumption that part of resolving the strike would be reinstating back pay, then ended in late September. But still, suppose it is true: the governor certainly didn't have to pay the strikers, but he did. Why would he do that, if not to help prolong the strike? And now we get into the complexities of Mexican politics. The Electrical Workers have covered the strike and they proposed a novel theory: Neverthless, it is possible that Fox may have lured Ruiz into a trap. Fox may have contributed to tensions between the state and the union by at first declining to offer Federal funds to meet the teachers' wage demands and perhaps even encouraged Ruiz to suppress the teachers' movement, and then, at the last moment, denying the use of Federal police power. Elba Esther Gordillo, the moral guide of the Mexican teachers union and inveterate political operator could also some have had a hand in exacerbating tensions. So the Ruiz and the PRI are blamed for the police attack, the left is blamed for the strike and disruption of normal life, and the PAN makes good its claim to be the party of law and order. If all this sounds too conspiratorial and too complicated, or too Machiavellian and too Byzantine, we can only argue, based on Mexican history, that such a scenario is all too Mexican. I have to agree. Given the political landscape in May/June, the primary beneficiary of fear in Mexico was PAN. PAN ran a campaign of fear. It threatened Mexico with the spectre of uprisings that it helped to cause. If Governor Ortiz did pay teachers's salaries during the strike, he helped to keep the strike alive through the election. The problem was that after attacking the strikers in June, he could no longer turn it off. Another item that Manuel asked me to comment on was a report in Excelsior that the head of APPO, Flavio Sosa Villavicencio, enrolled his daughters in private school at a cost of about $2,000 per year. But apparently Villavincencio withdrew them for the new term. I don't really have a comment because, as I told Manuel, movements are not their leaders. The American Revolution was headed by slaveowners like Jefferson and Washington, lecherous Ben Franklin, and that notorious drunk, Patrick Henry. And yet they accomplished something magnificent, because the movement they headed was larger than any human being. Some of the forces that are clashing in Oaxaca are these: * The corrupt remnants of the PRI and the people whose salaries depend on them. * Real estate speculators and land developers * The American tourist industry * Americans who own property in Oaxaca, either for vacation or retirement * Shopkeepers and small businessmen hoping for a rising economic tide * Indigenous people, for whom land and water issues are primary * Non-indigenous farmers, increasingly displaced * Narcotraffickers * Trade unionists, represented here by the teachers This is a simplistic and incomplete characterization of things, but the thing to keep in mind is exactly what Deep Throat advised Woodward and Bernstein: "Follow the money."
Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

More blogs about politics.
Technorati Blog Finder