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A National Assembly of APPOs and a peoples militia November 6, 2006

Posted by raved in Oaxaca.
In the light of the arguments raised on this blog, that Oaxaca can survive if it benefits from the lessons of previous communes, several points need to be made about the previous posting of Alan Benjamin’s article and the events it reports.
(1) Role of Violence:
There is a widely held view that the APPO can win its demands by means of ‘non-violence’ and that the use of violence by the communards is met by and escalation of violence.Alan Benjamin talks of a ‘spiral of violence’. But there is no spiral of violence, there is only state violence and parastate (Priista) violence vs the organised self-defence of the commune.The ‘non-violence’ strategy of the APPO is based on the belief that this will deter or mininize the use of offical state violence. That APPO violence will be used as an excuse of state violence, so ‘non-violence’ is a deterrent against state violence. That ‘non-violence’ will attract support from those who believe that politics is about morality, and pressuring governments to become democratic. In other words, ‘non-violence’ is premised on the assumption that the capitalist state can be reformed by a popular democratic movement.But the ‘non-violence’ of the APPO did not stop Ruiz from unleashing his Priista thugs on Friday 27th, and creating the pretext for the occupation of the Federal police. It has not prevented the Federals from giving the paramilitaries a free hand to kidnap and kill communards. It was enough that the teachers were on strike, and that APPO was occupying the Zocalo and official state buildings to justify the intervention of the Federal police.The APPO strategy of determined, but non-violent (i.e. no use of firearms) self-defence is not what has deterred the PFP, and limited the attacks of the Priistas. On the contrary it is the resolute use of ‘non-violent’ force of resistance that has prevented the escalation of violence. It has demonstrated to Fox that to destroy the APPO he will have to use such force as to risk defections and splits in his armed forces. It has also forced the Priistas to use cowardly methods of shooting communards rather than direct confrontation.

The prospect of the use of massive violence to repress the APPO has forced Fox and the national leadership of the PRI to disown Ruiz and his thugs. He hopes that this will convince the communards that the PRI can be ‘democratised’. Fox is now looking to isolate and confine the struggle to Oaxaca by removing Ruiz, meeting the main demand of the APPO. He does not want the struggle to escalate and join forces with the PRD campaign to stop the inaugaration of Calderon on December 1. That is why he is negotiating with the AMLO leadership to do a deal and contain the popular revolt within the bounds of the current Mexican constitution.

(2) The Role of the PRD: (Party of Democratic Revolution).

Benjamin does not clearly distinguish between the leadership of the PRD and the mass support it has to put AMLO (Obrador) into the Presidency. It has woken up after ‘a month of slumber’, but now AMLO and other PRD leaders are credited by Benjamin of genuinely mobilising the people in support of the APPO.

But there is a reason for the PRDs refusal to come out in support of the APPO until now. While on the one hand it claims to be ‘left’ and wants AMLO to be declared the real President on November 19, Mexican Revolution Day, in reality this is a left posturing. The PRD has worked out deals with the PAN and PRI to work with Calderon in the new government. The PRD state governors have all come out in support of the new governemnt. (Al Giordano, Narconews).

The reason that the PRD is now belatedly calling for mass support of APPO is to stop it in its tracks. AMLO is a ‘Bonapartist’ politician in the mould of Lazaro Cardenas in the 1930s, who has promised to stop privatisation and help the poor, but whose real interests are in doing deals between US imperialism and the Mexican ruling class by pacifying the masses. The last thing he wants is for his radical supporters, who want him to be the real Government, to take this seriously, and to join forces with the APPO to create a revolution from below.

The role of the PRD and AMLO is to position itself as the most left bourgeois government – in fact a popular front, in which the popular movement is subordinated to the PRD (and its fronts such as the Progressive Broad Front (FAP) formed by the CND – National Democratic Convention).

AMLOs bonapartist style is already clear from the undemocratic organisation of the CND in Mexico last month. Over a million supporters crowded into the Zocalo of Mexico City and voted by acclamation for the formation of the FAP “to make history” (Giordano) with no discussion. Now in response to Fox’s intervention, and no doubt by agreement with the PAN and PRI, AMLO is organising his supporters as the left popular wing to the determination of the Fox regime to sacrifice Ruiz to stop a movement from spreading and toppling the PAN succession. What they are most alarmed about is the way in which the APPO has joined forces with the Zapatistas and the unions to create a united front that could not only topple the PAN but split the PRD bottom from its top.

In containing this united front within the bounds of the present constitution, Fox will make more concessions, force Luiz out of office, clamp down on the Priista thugs, and use the PFP as ‘peacekeeping’ forces in Oaxaca. AMLO’s role will be to try to incoporate the APPO into the FAP and its plan for a second CND in April 2007 to convene a Constituent Assembly for a ‘New Republic’. (More on the Constituent Assembly below).

(3) The Chiapas CNTE Call for national Coordination.
This is the intiative of the CNTE teachers in Chiapas, just as the APPO is the initiative of the CNTE, Section 22, teachers in Oaxaca. They are really part of the same regional rural teachers movement since the states are right next door to each other. It adopts the APPO demands for Ruiz out, prisoners released, PFP out etc, calls for a mass march on Mexico City and the coordination of the APPO, CND and the big unions in forming a National Front in Defense of the People of Oaxaca. The article also reports some regional leaders of the Section 22 pressing for the Oaxaca teachers strike set for 8-9 November to be a national teachers strike.

So far so good. The leaders of the CNTE are the new vanguard of the revolution in Mexico. They have mobilised the popular opposition to imperialism into a militant, mass struggle not seen for decades. But so far none of their demands go beyond the FAP project of a broad popular movement in support of the PRD for a Constituent Assembly and a new republic. Nor do they directly challenge the EZLN to officially become part of this National Front. It is necessary to include a challenge to the leadership of the EZLN along with that of the FAP and the unions otherwise the EZLN will isolate itself from the new vanguard of the revolution which are the rural teachers.

First, what is missing is the demand for a general strike of all unions. As I have argued here before, the teachers by striking do not challenge the rule of capital by halting industrial production. Only strike action by those unions that can bring to a halt production of surplus value vital for US imperialism and the national bourgeosie can seriously pose a challenge to state power.

The pressure from below for a national teachers strike on Revolution Day should therefore be turned into a demand for a national strike of all the big unions, as preparation for an indefinite general strike to force the resignation of the Fox government and for immediate ‘Constituent Assembly’ based on the representation of the APPOs only.

That is, a “National Assembly of Assemblies”.

It is important that any National Assembly be based on the people’s organisations, the APPOs and not the existing political parties. The Constituent Assembly proposed by AMLO is a trap for the people. It will be based on the same 1917 Constitution that has repeatedly been corrupted by electoral fraud. People will vote as individual electors for existing or new political parties. It will mean that the majority will be represented by the PRD or some front that emerges out of that, and not the democratic represtation of the workers and campesino’s organisations. As a result the constitutional changes will not complete the tasks of the bourgeois democratic revolution let along challenge the rule of private property or imperialism.

A ‘National Assembly of the APPOs however, will inevitably represent the popular will to reject imperialism and the Mexican capitalists which are its agents. Its decisions will be sabotaged from within by the bureaucracy and from outside by the ruling class and imperialism. Such a National Assembly will therefore be a transitional regime that is unable to realise the needs of the vast majority of Mexican working people without being transformed into a Workers and Campesinos Government, based on a peoples’ milita, able to seize power and begin the task of building a socialist society.

Obviously all of the above presupposes two other conditions, first the National Front for the Defence of the People of Oaxaca should unite and coordinate the creation of APPOs in every state and town that can incorporate the mass movement behind the FAP into regional and local popular assemblies that challenge the top down AMLO Bonapartist co-option of the movement, with a bottom-up popular democracy.

Second, this National Front of all the ‘APPOS’ must be the basis of a national popular militia or guard that can defend the ‘APPOS’ from both the paramilitaries, and appeal to the rank and file of the army and federal police to refuse to fire on the people, form their own soldiers committees, and make available the arsenals of the state to the APPOS.



1. Tahoma Activist - November 6, 2006

I like your analysis – I located you through Google Blogs – would you link ot a petition I put online for American legislators? I know it’s a Quixotic attempt, but it’s the least I can do: here it is

2. raved - November 6, 2006

Link to US petition in support of APPO and against its repression

3. ricardo - November 9, 2006

See Oaxaca Fights Back!

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