I’m reproducing here a communique from my friend Pablo Leal, who is in Oaxaca now and has been based there for about three years – at least… I worked closely with him for a few years starting in early 2001, but I am glad that the movements in Mexico have been able to benefit from his commitment and his insights. The point of this introduction isn’t to praise Pablo but to provide a preface that you’re hearing the words of someone who is both informed and committted.
México, December 6, 2006
Dear friends and compañeros,
The repression against activists and militants who participated in the Oaxaca Commune is escalating. Two days ago, three leaders of the Popular Assembly of Oaxaca (APPO) were arrested in Mexico City.
Those who have not been arrested are either in hiding or out of the city.
The EZLN has called for world wide mobilizations in solidarity with the Commune on December 22.
Despite all the violence, the over 300 political prisoners, the torture, the over 30 dissapearances, the more than 10 assassinations, the Commune has not been defeated.
The newly inaugurated government of Felipe Calderon represents a new phase of neoliberalism in Latin America. Having lost the social consensus, the people begin to rebel against the system. Unable to convince them that the neoliberal recipe is in their best interest, the State turns to violence. Much like in Colombia under Álvaro Uribe, Mexico enters the world of neoliberal fascism once the curtian of neoliberal democracy falls and the facade is revelead before the eyes of the people.
Those who today make a stand with Oaxaca Commune, make a stand for their own dignity as well.
Todo el Poder al Pueblo.
Here is information on the terrible escalation of repression against teachers and others in Mexico. Last night the situation got even worse.
1. As reported in today’s Mexico City daily La Jornada, late last night in Mexico City government agents arrested APPO leader Flavio Sosa, together with three other activists. They were pulled out of their car two hours after APPO held a press conference announcing that it would be meeting with the federal government for negotiations in the capital city.
2. Arrests continue to spread not only in Oaxaca but in Mexico City, as Federal Investigative Agency (AFI) and Preventive Police (PFP) agents carry out house-to-house detentions of members of the FPR (Revolutionary People’s Front, a left tendency active in the teachers’ union) and other APPO supporters.
3. At least 90 teachers from Section 22 of the teachers union (Oaxaca) are among the approximately 300 activists who are under arrest. At least 141 of those arrested in Oaxaca itself (including three minors) were transported by helicopter to the notorious El Rincon prison in the state of Nayarit. They are still being held incommunicado, unable to see lawyers or family members (La Jornada, December 5).
4. Classrooms continue to be invaded by armed Federal Police, who are arresting teachers at gunpoint. This is the case in Oaxaca City and small towns as well.
Today’s Diario de Mexico (a popular daily published here in New York) reports:
“Fear and nervous crises among little students were provoked by the arrival of Federal Preventive Police (PFP) agents at primary, secondary and even kindergarten classrooms in several localities, who intimated and in some cases arrested teachers, leading to classes being suspended once again… One example is the ‘Cinco de Mayo’ School in the town of Ocotlan de Morelos [in Oaxaca], where uniformed police arrived and took away five teachers as well as the school’s director, Miguel Munoz Hernandez…
“Children burst into tears at the violent way their teachers were seized, a situation similar to what occurred at the ‘Cuauhtemoc’ primary school in the town of Magdalena Apazco, where the children were removed from the school by PFP agents who arrested some teachers.” The article continues with more details on the situation in the schools of various parts of Oaxaca.
5. Last week the government’s own Human Rights Commission reported that of the 17 prisoners it had succeeded in interviewing at El Rincon, all showed signs of severe beatings. It is very likely that many or most of the prisoners continue to be tortured. A lawyer involved in trying to defend them expressed particular over the women prisoners, saying that PFP troops had pulled off a large part of their clothes in the process of arresting them, which is especially alarming given sexual abuse of women arrested at Atenco earlier this year.
At about 19:30 today, two APPO councillors from the Roma Neighbourhood were arrested. These are our compañero Flavio Sosa Villavicencio, one of the most visible councillors of the APPO and compañero Marcelino Coache. Both were in Mexico City, organising solidarity actions with the people of Oaxaca. They where arrested together with Flavio’s brothers, Horacio and Ignacio Sosa Villavicencio.
They were arrested by the PFP when they were leaving a press conference held in the Social Communication Centre (CENCOS), where the APPO members had denounced the state of emergency in Oaxaca. Repression has spread towards the families of the APPO councillors, in the case of Flavio, another of his brothers Erick was arrested and moved to the high security prison in Tamaulipas.
These are the acts of persecution that the false government of Felipe Calderon unleashes against a social movement with legitimate demands. the first action of Felipe Calderon’s government is the criminalisation of the social struggle.
We call to the Peoples of Mexico, and the world, to hold actions at once in solidarity with APPO. We know that now the total extermination of this social movement from the south of mexico is a priority for both federal and national governments. A movement that has showed the world that unity is possible. We demand the immediate freedom of all of our political prisoners.