Ever get the feeling that being in the US means we’re stuck in the boonies, while the real earth-shaking events are going on elsewhere? Which brings me to Oaxaca.
In Oaxaca, Mexico, there’s a full-fledged uprising against government corruption, and against corporate globalization. And this is a
non-violent uprising relatively non-violent uprising.1 From CounterPunch:
Squarely positioned in the “south of the south,” Oaxaca has kept its head up proudly through period after failed period in the great big Mexican globalization laboratory. In a state where 76% of the population lives in abject poverty, the only thing that seems to have “trickled down” is a broad consensus that neoliberalism has grossly failed the region. It’s no surprise, then, that last June’s teacher’s strike drew widespread support from indigenous groups, students, unions and civil society organizations. When you’re working yourself into poverty and your kids are hungry, it’s not hard to find common ground with your neighbors-something’s got to change.
That change came together in a demand to oust the notoriously corrupt Oaxacan governor Ulises Ruiz, a bastion of elite power in the region. The APPO2 has been occupying strategic parts of Oaxaca since, establishing a parallel people’s government and rendering Ruiz’s administration ineffectual. Last week the Secretary of the Interior and both houses of the Mexican Congress called for Ruiz to step down. It seemed APPO was on the verge of victory.
Yet APPO’s clear commitment to non-violence and a negotiated solution has been met with fierce military escalation on the part of the Mexican government. As the number of troops, tanks and helicopters began to rise, so too has the tally of ilegal detentions, murders, forced disappearances, torture and police misconduct.
I frankly don’t have much to say about the situation. I’m watching it with excitement and fear, hoping they can make it work, hoping that the government’s brutality will not escalate. I might eventually think of something more intelligent to say, but in the meanwhile, some links:
They will also be the seeds of popular rebellions in other places. The Oaxacan rebellion is a reminder that an evaluation of the consequences of free trade and globalization is indeed overdue – and that the World Bank has no right to be the evaluator. The people who have suffered the consequences should evaluate the system. Too often in the North, the reports of protest and rebellion around the world are seen as disparate battles or isolated complaints and not as part of a growing consensus that something is gravely wrong. Those who have benefited from free trade rules, especially those living in countries that designed these rules, have a responsibility to get the message.
Tomas Cruz, born in Oaxaca but currently living in the US, has a much less dry backgrounder here.
The Narco News “Other Campaign” page — the best radical English-language news source about Oaxaca.
A collection of essays and sketches by Peter Kuper, an excellent American cartoonist currently living in Oaxaca. (The drawing at the bottom of the post is by Kuper – click on it to see a larger version).
Barucha Peller reports on how women’s issues have (and have not) been incorporated into APPA. Although Peller clearly supports the Oaxaca barricadistas, she writes with more skepticism and more acknowledgment of the conflicts within APPA than I’ve seen elsewhere.
- Compare this to Iraq, for example, in which thousands or tens of thousands have been killed by insurgents. As far as I know, the “insurgents” in this case have so far not killed anyone. [↩]
- APPO stands for Asamblea Popular de los Pueblos de Oaxaca, which translates as “Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca.” From Wikipedia: “The APPO was created and convened for the first time on June 17, 2006. It declared itself the de facto governing body of Oaxaca. Its body included representatives of Oaxaca’s state regions and municipalities, unions, non-governmental organizations, social organizations, and cooperatives. It encouraged all Oaxacans to organize popular assemblies at every level: neighborhoods, street blocks, unions, and towns. Its leaders empasized that “No leader is going to solve our problems,” and asserted the need for common civilians to organize and work beyond the scope of elected officials. While the primary demand of the APPO has been the removal of the governor of Oaxaca, they have also called for broader economic, social and political transformations, as well as changes in the state’s political constitution.” [↩]