Mexico: Class struggle intensifies

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FRFI 194 December 2006 / January 2007

Mexico is in the grip of a social and political crisis exacerbated by July’s rigged presidential election. The victorious ruling class candidate, Felipe Calderon, will be inaugurated on 1 December amidst massive protests in Mexico City; the backdrop will be a terror campaign against the working class, indigenous people and peasantry in Oaxaca and Chiapas in the south of the country.

The protests have been called by the Democratic National Convention, an assembly of over a million people held on 16 September 2006 in Mexico City. The Convention also agreed that Lopez Obrador, the defeated socialist candidate, should establish a parallel government on Revolution Day, 20 November. Obrador lost the fraudulent election by 237,000 votes out of 40 million cast. The ruling class was never going to let him take office. Hundreds of thousands assembled in Mexico City on 20 November to celebrate Obrador’s inauguration as their president. Obrador pledged to continue the struggle against the ‘neo-fascist reactionaries’ of the Calderon government.

Popular anger has been heightened by the brutal re-occupation of Oaxaca City, under popular control since 70,000 teachers went on strike in May. The state governor’s attempt on 14 June to remove strikers from the city centre backfired, resulting in huge demonstrations and the formation of the Oaxacan People’s Assembly (APPO) which took over the city, forcing the governor to flee. At its First State Assembly on 27-29 September APPO affirmed it would be ‘democratic, popular, inclusive, anti-imperialist, anti-fascist and anti-capitalist’. On 27 October, plainclothes police and paramilitary allies attacked APPO barricades, killing three, including Brad Will, an Indymedia reporter. Two days later the government sent in the federal police to crush the movement, but failed to take the university and its radio station, crucial for APPO organisation. National and international protests forced the government to arrest Will’s murderers: though two municipal police were allowed to escape. Zapatista supporters blockaded roads in the Chiapas in solidarity. On 5 November, over a million people marched through Oaxaca City demanding the withdrawal of the federal police and the resignation of governor Ruis. Up to 12 people have been killed since 27 October; 140 have been arrested and 39 ‘disappeared’.

Brutal attacks are taking place in the Chiapas. On 13 November, 240 police and paramilitaries attacked peasants in Viejo Velasco, killing four and abducting four more. The victims’ houses and livestock were destroyed. In Chol de Tumbala an indigenous community is under threat of forcible removal by the Mexican army. 20 November saw more Zapatista road blockades in the Chiapas; the popular movements have served notice that they will intensify their struggle against the ruling class and its US allies.

Robert Clough