Too quiet in Oaxaca - Page 3

This Mexican city's volcano of popular unrest has cooled -- but further eruptions are expected

One Oaxaca-based PRD insider who preferred not to be named confides that APPO activists were vetoed by the left party's national leadership least front-page photos of the candidates hurling rocks during last summer's altercations lend credence to the perpetual allegations of the PRI and Calderon's right-wing PAN that the PRD is "the part of violence." Most local candidacies were distributed in accordance with the laws of PRD nepotism and amongst the party's myriad "tribes."

The exclusion of the APPO activists so infuriated 50 members of grassroots organizations led by Zapotec Indian spokesperson Aldo Gonzalez that they stormed the PRD's Oaxaca city headquarters May 18th, leaving its façade a swirl of spray-painted anguish. The failure to select candidates from the popular movement, Gonzalez and others charge, throws the elections to URO, suggesting that the PRD has cut a deal with the APPO's arch enemy.

Given the hostilities the upcoming elections have sparked so far, the August and October balloting could well signal another "voto del castigo" - this time against the PRD.

The election season was in full swing by mid-Spring in Oaxaca. PRD leader Felix Cruz, who had just coordinated Lopez Obrador's third tour of the Mixteca mountains (AMLO was conspicuously absent during last summer's struggle), was gunned down in Ejutla de Crespo on May 21st. Juan Antonio Robles, a direction of the Unified Triqui Liberation Movement (MULT), a participating organization in the APPO, met a similar fate the next day. That same week, a car carrying a local candidate for Elba Esther Gordillo's New Alliance Party was riddled with gunfire along the coast. Drug gang killings have also jacked up the homicide rate in the state - under Ulises' governance, drugs and drug gangs have flourished.

Meanwhile, in classic "cacique" (political boss) style, the PRI governor is out and about dishing up the pork to buy votes, passing out cardboard roofing and kilos of beans, building roads to nowhere and bridges where there are no rivers to cross, to pump up his electoral clientele. Gifting opposition leaders with pick-up trucks to enlist their allegiances is a favorite URO gambit, notes Navarro Hernandez.

Despite the ambitions of some of its members, the APPO is not enthusiastic about participating in the electoral process. At a statewide congress in February, APPO members were allowed to run for public office as individuals and only if they resign from any organizational function.

Miguel Cruz, an APPO activist and member of the directive of the CIPO-RFM or Popular Indigenous Council of Oaxaca - Ricardo Flores Magon (Flores Magon was a Oaxaca-born anarchist leader during the Mexican revolution) is not a partisan of the electoral process. Seated in the CIPO's open-air kitchen out in Santa Lucia del Camino, a rural suburb of Oaxaca city where police gunned down U.S. journalist Brad Will last October, Miguel explains his disdain for how the elections have split the APPO "when they were supposed to bring us together.

"Everyone is working on their own agendas now and the so-called leaders are all looking for a 'hueso" (literally 'bone' - political appointment.) This is a crying shame. The APPO is a mass movement, not a political party. Our consciences are not for sale."

June 14th, the day last year Ulises sent a thousand heavily armed police to unsuccessfully take the plaza back from the striking teachers, is a crucial date. The APPO and Section 22 are planning one of their famous mega-marches which last summer sometimes turned out hundreds of thousands of citizens. Will June 14th signal a resurgence of massive resistance and if it does, will the popular leadership be able to restrain hotter heads and government provocateurs that last November gave the federal police the pretext to beat and round up hundreds? Miguel Cruz is hopeful the APPO will persevere.