After the most important leaders of the Popular Peoples Assembly of Oaxaca (APPO) fled the savage repression in Oaxaca under the cover of darkness last week they were apprehended in Mexico City yesterday. This action is the calling card of the new Calderon government to whoever opposes another 6 years of neo-liberal nightmare and anti-democratic repression. Calderon is building a government with an iron fist, with the cooperation of the PRI, and will allow and employ any trick in the book to destroy the opposition.
Flavio Sosa, his brother Horacio and other leaders of APPO like Ignacio Garcia, Maldonada and Marcelina Coache Verano were arrested after hosting a press conference yesterday. One of the reasons why the APPO leadership came to Mexico City was to attend its first planned official contact with the Calderon government. In other words they were tricked and arrested.
According to the Mexican Daily La Jornada, Flavio Sosa has been accused of kidnapping, violent robbery, GBH, damage to public buildings, sedition and attacking public transport. He and his comrades were taken to a high security prison of Altiplano on the orders of the Oaxaca state governor Ulises Ruis who described them as “very dangerous criminals”.
Tip of the iceberg
The arrest of part of the leadership of APPO is only part of the horrendous repression which goes on in Oaxaca. In the last few weeks the state of Oaxaca, and its predominantly indigenous population, has been under a de facto state of emergency. The militarised police and the military have occupied the capital, established 24 hour patrols and control all routes in and out of the capital. Forces linked to the PRI, the party of governor Ulises Ruiz, have organized kidnappings and death squads. According to many eyewitnesses, interviewed by the CWI, armed pro-government civilians patrol the streets and arrest people at random. Many of those arrested are never to be seen again. The most brutal reaction has been unleashed against the people of Oaxaca and it is no secret either who is directing these death squads. The pro-government radio Radio Ciudadana, run by PRI sympathisers, openly calls to firebomb houses of known APPO sympathisers and for lynching of APPO leaders.
This while the Ulises Ruiz was amongst the first to be invited by the new president Calderon for a breakfast meeting. Very few people doubt that the price the PAN paid for PRI’s support in parliament was the protection of Ulises Ruiz and the extermination of the popular uprising in Oaxaca.
According to NGO´s and human rights organisations more than 600 people have been arrested since the start of the conflict, a teachers strike about wages, in Oaxaca 6 months ago. In the same period NGO´s have denounced the disappearance of 100 people and more than 26 activists have been murdered by police or death squads. Eyewitnesses have confirmed that many people accept that the majority of the disappeared will never be found and are presumed death by their families.
Enter a “midnight president”
On Friday 1 December Filipe Calderon was finally inaugurated as the new president of Mexico. Since his fraudulent election on the 2 of June he has faced continuous protests to the extent that he has hardly appeared in public. Even the inauguration could not proceed in the usual circumstances. To face down protest in parliament from the PRD deputies, the members of Calderon´s party, the PAN, had decided to occupy the parliamentary tribune for two days before the inauguration.
In the end Calderon, having reminded everyone over the last few months that he is the constitutionally elected president of Mexico, had to flee to something profoundly unconstitutional in a bid to assure some semblance of normality. At five to midnight, on the 30 of November, a small gathering of cabinet members of the outgoing Fox government and the incoming Calderon administration gathered before the cameras at the official presidential residence. There in an unprecedented ceremony Calderon took the oath as the new president of the United States of Mexico. His official ceremony the next day lasted only five minutes. The main TV channels covered the event but did not broadcast the sound, again trying to relay a sense of normality. In the real world Calderon could not make himself understood in parliament as the opposition shouted “espurio” (impostor) throughout the short ceremony. Calderon left parliament as he had entered it, through the back door.
The opposition party PRD and its movement around the legitimate president Manuel Lopez Obrador mobilized several hundred thousand people to march against the inauguration of Filipe Calderon. While this is an impressive feat, 6 months after the election, AMLO has no immediate guidance for the struggle other than the next parliamentary elections. It is clear that the Calderon government is going to continue the work of Vicente Fox of attacking the rights and living conditions of the working class. One of Calderon´s first “work” meetings was with representatives of Spanish business people. He promised to make Mexico the most investment friendly country in the world and promised them opportunities to invest in building airports, electricity, and petro chemicals.
The organised working class has no other choice than to fight against more neo-liberalism and built its own organizations. A working class party would have organised armed defence for the people of Oaxaca, prepared for a one day general strike and extended elected committees of struggle to workplaces throughout the country. The Calderon government is politically, socially and economically weak. It is only the lack of a socialist alternative, organised around the working class, which allows it to unleash the devils of repression and reaction.