Mexico: Conflict in Oaxaca rumbles on

State and federal police attack demonstration and arrest 31 people, leaving countless wounded

In one of Mexico’s most southern states, Oaxaca, a conflict between the teachers’ trade-union and the representatives of the indigenous peoples, on the one hand, and the state machinery run by the PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party, Mexico’s ruling party), on the other, has continued for over a year. The last instalment in this bloody struggle saw an attack by the state and federal police against an unarmed demonstration. The police arrested thirty-one people, wounding many more in a violent confrontation.

The occasion for this renewed repression was a march called by Section 22 of the teachers’ trade union (SNTE – National Union of Education Workers) together with the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO) against the official celebration of La Guelaguetza by the state authorities headed by Governor Ulises Ruiz. La Guelaguetza is originally a celebration of the indigenous peoples which has been taken over by the authorities. The tourism department organises a massive event over a two week period every year.

The struggle of the SNTE and APPO against the state authorities of Oaxaca has lasted since early May 2006 and has seen terrible repression against activists, workers and young people. Non-Governmental and human rights organisations have condemned the arrest of more than six hundred people, the disappearance of one hundred more and the killing by police or death squads of twenty-six people (These events are outlined in more detail in "Police and army move against the rebellion in Oaxaca", 30 October 2007, and "More violence in Oaxaca", 27 November 2006, on this website

The conflict between the APPO and SNTE and the Oaxaca ruling elite will not be solved by simply calling for the removal of the PRI governor, Ulises Ruiz. The demand for his removal must be connected to an anti-capitalist and anti-latifundio (against the big absentee landlords) program with social and political demands putting the interests of the working class, poor and indigenous populations centre stage. Only such a platform would be able to attract enough support to oust the corrupt and murderous PRI and start building a socialist alternative.

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July 2007