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More than 1 million march against federal police invasion
Oaxacan people defy crackdown

By Todd Chretien | November 10, 2006 | Pages 1 and 4

ORGANIZERS SAID more than 1 million people marched in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca November 5 to protest a deadly crackdown ordered by President Vicente Fox and to restate their demand for the resignation of Gov. Ulises Ruiz Ortiz.

The "mega-march" showed that the struggle in Oaxaca is continuing despite the invasion of 5,000 federal police--sent by Fox to "restore order" following the killing of three protesters, including an independent journalist from the U.S., by paramilitary police.

If Fox hoped to defeat the struggle, he failed. Three days of street fighting, barricade by barricade, ended November 3 when students, parents and others fought off a seven-hour police assault on the public university.

This victory led the Popular People's Assembly of Oaxaca (APPO)--formed earlier this year to support striking public school teachers and coordinate the rising social struggle--to call for an "offensive" to re-establish street barricades around the city and mobilize for the "mega-march."

What you can do

Many well-known left-wing authors and activists have added their name to a letter honoring the memory of independent journalist Brad Will and supporting the struggle of the people of Oaxaca.

"We are extremely alarmed," the letter reads in part, "to see that rather than cracking down on the violent paramilitaries who have been launching regular attacks on the people of Oaxaca, President Vicente Fox is using these murders as a pretext for escalating violence against the popular grassroots organization of the people of Oaxaca.

Signers include Tariq Ali, Noam Chomsky, Mike Davis, Eduardo Galeano, Danny Glover, Naomi Klein, Camilo Mejía, Oscar Olivera, Francis Fox Pivin, John Pilger, Katha Pollitt, Arundhati Roy, Wallace Shawn and Howard Zinn.

To add your name to this letter--as well as for information on the struggle in Oaxaca and on events to honor Brad Will--visit the Friends of Brad Will Web site.


The rest of November promises to be equally intense. After agreeing to return to work this week after five months on strike without pay, Oaxaca teachers are calling for a national strike for November 9 and 10, and it could well turn into a general strike. On November 11 and 12, APPO is planning a statewide convention.

Meanwhile, on November 20, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the left-of-center candidate from the Party of the Democratic Revolution who was cheated out of his July 2 presidential victory by widespread fraud, is organizing a "counter-inaugural" where he will be declared the legitimate president.

On December 1, Felipe Calderón, the candidate of Fox's right-wing National Action Party, who was declared the president-elect by the federal government, is scheduled to be sworn in. In Oaxaca, Gov. Ruiz has lost the support of even his own party and is acting more and more as a wild card.

As Socialist Worker went to press, several small bombs exploded in Mexico City, and a coalition of little-known guerrilla organizations claimed responsibility. Although it is possible that these were government provocations, it appears equally likely that the guerrilla actions are genuine, if very misguided, protests against the fraud and violence perpetrated by the Mexican government.

In Oaxaca, almost 20 teachers and APPO members have been assassinated and dozens have been kidnapped or beaten since the first major confrontation of the strike took place in May.

APPO condemned the Mexico City bombings and re-emphasized that it is fighting the federal police occupation with nothing more than sticks, stones, slingshots and street barricades. APPO bases its tactics on mass participation and strikes, and this is what the government fears most.

November may well be the most important month in Mexican politics since the Zapatista uprising in January of 1994.

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