Long live the heroic workers’ and campesinos’ commune of Oaxaca!
On the 2 of October, 38 years since the massacre of Tlatelolco in 1968,(1) the eyes of the proletarian vanguard of the Americas and the world are fixed on the workers and people of that Mexican city that have created their own Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO) against the power of the bourgeois ruling class. There, on the 14 of June, defeating the police and the forces of repression sent by the PRI Governor Ulises Ruiz to smash their occupation of the central plaza of Oaxaca, the Zocalo, the striking teachers, took control of the city, created the Popular Assembly, formed their own self-defense committees, and established the workers and campesinos’ Commune of Oaxaca.(2) This commune is a revolutionary conquest not only of the Mexican working class, but of America and the world, yet it will not prevail unless its struggle and demands are generalised and adopted by the rest of the workers and poor farmers of Mexico and the world.
The heroic struggle of the Oaxaca Commune is at the head of the enormous workers and campesinos’ insurgency that has been shaking Mexico for several months, like the miners and steel workers of Michoacán, and the workers and campesinos uprisings in Atenco and Texcoco. The call has gone out to the workers of Mexico and the world to come to the defence of the Oaxaca commune. It is surrounded by the military forces of Fox and his successor Calderón, and by the PRI paramilitaries, who are defending the PRI state government of Ulises Ruiz, demanding that the leaders of the APPO “negotiate”. But If the APPO remains firm in its central demand to replace Ruiz, the ruling regime of the Mexican bourgeoisie in collaboration with US imperialism, is prepared to smash the Commune in blood and fire.
It is no accident that this rising insurgency has its parallel on the other side of the “border” in the United States, where 12 million Latino migrants have begun to fightback against the slave labor conditions and racist persecution of the immigration laws in the United States. Joining together in this struggle, the US and Mexican masses are rising up against imperialist domination of Latin America, and against its re-colonisation offensive under NAFTA that imposes slave labor conditions and super-exploitation of workers and campesinos on both sides of the border. Because in Mexico and the United States there is only one working class and one revolution, the ghost of the Mexican revolution now haunts the US imperialists who know that no 'Wall', ‘border police’ or ‘minutemen militias’ can prevent that revolution from entering the heart of US imperialism.
The revolutionary upsurge of the working class and exploited peoples of Mexico, creating their advance guard in the Oaxaca Commune, joined with the struggle of their class brothers and sisters in the US, and alongside the heroic struggles of the Chilean working class and the resistance of the Bolivian workers vanguard defending the mines of Huanuni, proves that the Latin American revolution is alive and resisting the fraud of the “Bolivarian Revolution” of Chávez, Morales, Fidel Castro and the World Social Forum that is today showing its true face by killing miners at Huanuni to defend the client regimes and governments of MERCOSUR that serve the imperialist monopolies.
NAFTA enslaves Mexico to imperialism and the fraudulent and repressive ‘transitional’ regime of ‘alternates’
Today the Mexican masses are rising up after 12 years of resistance to the North American Free Trade Agreement, the NAFTA, which began on 1st January 1994. The day that NAFTA came into effect, the campesinos of Chiapas rose up in an armed rebellion. To the war cry of “Down with the NAFTA” the insurgents stood up against the pact that allowed imperialism to strip them their land rights under the 1917 Constitution. The Chiapas popular rebellion and the economic crisis – the “tequilazo” – that followed shortly after, severely weakened the legitimacy of the Priato, the regime of the PRI that had ruled semi-colonial Mexico for more than 50 years. (3)
In order to prevent the masses from sweeping away the Priato, the imperialists and the Mexican bourgeoisie negotiated the “transition pact” – also supported by the PAN and the PRD – which consisted of measures to combat electoral corruption and fraud, including the “democratization” of the PRI.
But despite these reforms, the Priato collapsed in 2000 under renewed attack by the masses, who breaking from their bureaucratic leaders began mobilisations of students, workers and campesinos. For example, in the UNAM (National Autonomous University of Mexico) students went on strike for 10 months, and then occupied the university to force the release of 200 prisoners. At the Mexe Teachers College (in Tepatepec, Hildago province) students went on strike over poverty conditions and were supported by workers and campesinos who disarmed police and took them as hostages to force the release of imprisoned students.(4)
In the face of what looked like the re-opening of the Mexican revolution, imperialism and its lackey bourgeoisie, abandoned the Priato and its failed “transition pact” and devised a new plan to divert the masses back to the elections to vote for ‘alternatives’ to the hated PRI. The different fractions of the bourgeoisie create a new regime – the “regime of the alternates”. Instead of a single-party system like the Priato, the three parties, the PRI, PAN and PRD (both the PAN and PRD had emerged out of the PRI in the 1990s) were to be presented as ‘alternative’ governments.
The PRD and EZLN ‘baits’ the trap
To set this trap, they used the ‘leftist’ credentials of the leaders of the PRD, in particular Cardenas, and the EZLN, who had already signed the ‘San Andréas Accords’ in 1996 with the PRI, in which they renounced the fight against NAFTA and the Priato for land rights, in exchange for the “formal autonomy” of the Chiapas peasant communities. In 1997 the PRI lost control of Congress, and in 2000 Fox and the PAN won the presidency, ending the 70 year rule of the Priato. So came into existence, the first ‘alternate’ government, that of the PAN.
Thus in Mexico the political regime changed without any direct intervention of the revolutionary masses, but on the basis of an agreement between different fractions of the bourgeoisie and imperialism. This self-reform of the bourgeois regime from above we call ‘Bismarkism’ as it is loosely analagous to the policy of the bourgeois German Chancellor, Bismarck, in the late 19th century.
In the revolution of 1848 in France, for the first time in history, the rising proletariat had entered the fight against the monarchy on the side of the bourgeoisie, but then threatened to overthrow the bourgeoisie itself. The terrified French and European bourgeoisies turned and smashed the working class with blood and fire. To avoid the same threat in Germany, Bismarck negotiated a ‘peaceful’ transition to a bourgeois regime which allowed German capitalism to develop without the revolutionary overthrow of feudal social relations.
It is in this sense that we call the plan of the Mexican bourgeoisie to reform the regime from above in a pact with US imperialism, ‘Bismarckian’. But today, it is ‘senile’ because in the epoch of imperialism the destruction of the productive forces means that the ‘compromise’ between reactionary imperialism and the national bourgeoisie leaves no room for ‘democracy’, and so ‘Bismarckism’ must directly attack the proletarian revolution.
With the electoral victory of Fox in 2000, the Mexican bourgeoisie paraded this senile Bismarckian regime before the masses as the ultimate in 'democracy'. But this regime was just as dedicated to the NAFTA and administering the double and triple chains of super-exploitation of Mexico, that it was a no less fraudulent, corrupt and repressive than the old Priato. The ‘alternate’ PAN government became the direct agent of US imperialism. Despite its formal ‘parliamentary democracy’, it took on a Bonapartist character, attempting to reconcile class conflict in the ‘national’ interest. Yet, like the Priato, it resorted to the same old fraud in stealing the 2006 Presidential election from the PRD. So in the eyes of the masses, it took the PAN just 6 years to exhaust its ‘democratic’ credentials and to pass on the defence of ‘democracy’ to the defeated ‘third alternate’ the PRD.
The ‘alternate’ PRD led by Lopez Obrador (AMLO) and supported on the ‘left by the Stalinists, Castroists, and the fake-Trotskyists in the WSF, today plays a key role in containing the exploited and oppressed masses, preventing their protest against the Fox-Calderón electoral fraud from turning the Federal District (DF) and all of Mexico into one big Oaxaca Commune. This explains the occupation of the Zocalo of Mexico City “against fraud” and “for democracy”, and the PRD's support of the APPO’s demand to remove the PRI machine in their state by constitutional means. By posing as anti-imperialist and pro-democracy the PRD leadership tries to fool the masses into thinking that they can have ‘democracy’ without breaking with imperialism. This is the real fraud because Obrador and the PRD have no interest in breaking from NAFTA and US imperialism.
The critical role played by Lopez Obrador, and also by the EZLN – as we shall see below – is in response to the uprisings of the workers and farmers to the NAFTA regime. When the masses threaten to make a revolution and wipe the NAFTA regime off the map, the ‘third alternate’, the PRD comes to its aid, backed by the prominent Latin American leaders of the ‘Bolivarian Revolution’ and their agents in Mexico, and supported by Castroism and all the reformist leaders in the World Social Forum.
Defend the Oaxaca Commune!
Down with Ulises Ruiz! All power to the APPO!
For all militant workers and campesinos organisations in Mexico to send mandated delegates of the base to Oaxaca to organize its defense and a nationawide general strike!
After 12 years of NAFTA, US imperialism has intensified its offensive against Mexico to complete the re-colonisation of Mexico and guarantee its superprofits. It wants to privatise PEMEX (Mexican State Petroleum) and and the national electricity company. It is no accident that the new president, Felipe Calderón, winning by fraud, is the ex-minister of energy of the Fox government.
The anti-imperialist uprisings are the workers, campesinos, and students reply to imperialism’s offensive, and the Oaxaca Commune is the most advanced of these uprisings. The Mexican bourgeoisie, the government of Fox-Calderón and the NAFTA regime are well aware of the terrible danger that the Commune – whose example begins to spread far and wide in Mexico to Guerrero and at least 10 other states – poses to their private property and class rule.
They understand clearly that in Oaxaca there are two absolutely irreconcilable class forces facing each other. On one side, is the power of the imperialistic monopolies, the national bourgeoisie, and its armed institutions and paramilitary gangs. On the other side, is the power of the workers, campesinos and other oppressed people of Oaxaca with their own institution – the APPO. The APPO unites almost 400 workers', campesinos', students' and popular organisations in struggle, provides its own independent justice, has formed its own organs of self-defense, and is now the only power recognised as legitimate by the workers and the all exploited Oaxaqueños.
That is why US imperialism and its lackey NAFTA bourgeoisie offer APPO the “carrot” of negotiation, but at the same time prepare their military forces to smash it. This is just like the popular front government of Morales in Bolivia. While seated at the negotiation table with the union miners of Huanuni and agreeing to the 1500 jobs that the people of region demanded, at the same time it was conspiring with the self-employed miners to attack the union miners and to privatize the mine!
The same trap is being prepared against the Comuneros of Oaxaca. While the Secretary of the Oaxala state government says that he will meet the demands of the teachers for increased pay, drop the charges against the leaders of the APPO and release the political prisoners, the Senate rejects the only non-negotiatable demand of the APPO, for the removal of the state governor Ulises Ruiz (URO), on the constitutional grounds that a ‘vacuum of power’ does not exist. Some of the leaders of APPO take this as a signal to pressure the rank and file teachers to give up this demand and return to work. But in the event that the rank and file votes to continue the strike then the Fox-Calderon Federal government is preparing, together with the PRI Oaxaca state government, to use the troops and the “porros”, the PRI paramilitaries who have already killed at least 6 strikers, to smash the Commune with blood and fire.(5)
It is necessary to rally the international working class forces in response to the call of the Commune:
Long live the Commune and its demand “All power to the people”!
Down with Ulises Ruiz!
All power to the APPO!
Immediate and unconditional freedom for all political prisoners!
All the militant workers' and campesinos' organisations must send delegates mandated by the rank and file to Oaxaca to guarantee the defense of the Commune and to organize a national general strike to prevent the repression, and to generalise the Commune and its objectives to all the Mexican masses!
The heroic oaxaqueños comuneros have already organized for their self-defense, creating more than 3,000 coordinated and centralized barricades, and workers' and campesinos' self-defence committees to defend them, “Cuerpo to topiles” or “guard corps”.
Immediate formation of defence committees nationwide to defend the workers and campesinos, their organizations and their struggles from the the police and the army, and from the “porros” of the union bureaucracy “charra” and of the white guards of the landowners who openly kill the campesinos!
The EZLN has the responsibility to stop the isolation of Oaxaca!
The workers and campesinos of Chiapas and Guerrero must stand next to their Oaxaqueños brothers and sisters!
Oaxaca cannot be isolated when its slogans, “Down with NAFTA”, “Land for the campesinos” and “Down with the the hated regime”, are the same slogans raised by the Chiapas insurgents in 1994. In the neighboring state of Guerrero the oppressed masses are already building Popular Assemblies. The workers and campesinos of Chiapas and Guerrero must be the first to respond to the call of their brothers and sisters of the Oaxaca Commune and unite in a same fight against imperialism and the NAFTA regime of the PAN, PRI and PRD!
The EZLN is at the moment giving its verbal support to the fight of the oaxaqueños communeros. Subcomandante Marcos (Delegate Zero) writes letters and crosses Mexico by motor scooter organising the “Other Campaign”. Enough of passivity and verbal support! The EZLN must make available for the defense of the Oaxaca Commune and its struggle for victory, all its resources, and call on the workers and campesinos of Guerrero to rise up and to follow their example, and create a Federation of Workers and Campesinos’ Communes of Oaxaca, Guerrero and Chiapas. This is the only way to revive the Mexican revolution, of overthrowing the fraudulent regime of the PAN, PRI and PRD, finishing with imperialism and the NAFTA, expropriating the land for the landless, and realising the demands for which so many of the chiapanecos gave their lives from 1994.
Down with the fraudulent NAFTA regime of the PAN, PRI and the PRD!
To make sure that the Oaxaca Commune survives and is victorious, its struggle and its demands must be taken up by all Mexican workers and campesinos. This means smashing the NAFTA regime of the PAN, PRI and PRD and its fraudulent ‘democracy’. For that reason, it is necessary to raise the demands that the Mexican workers and campesinos organisations break all their ties to the bourgeoisie, and that their leaders immediately convene a National Popular Assembly of delegates of the rank of file of all the workers, students and campesinos’ fighting organisations, to centralize the struggles, and organize national general strike that will continue until the government of Fox-Calderón and the NAFTA regime of PAN, PRI and PRD are swept away, and that a new government that can meet the urgent demands of the exploited masses of Mexico has been created.
Down the regime of the fraudulent NAFTA regime of the PAN, PRI and PRD!
End the NAFTA plunder of Mexico!
Expropriate without compensation the landowners and the imperialists, Land to the landless! Expropriate the bankers without compensation, and create one state bank under workers’ control to provide cheap credit for the campesinos!
No to the privatization of PEMEX!
Nationalize without compensation and under workers control all monopolies and the privatized companies!
Worthwile work and living wages for all, distributing the working hours among all those willing to work with a minimum wage set by the family cost of living!
Real national independence, land for the landless, and bread and work for the workers are objectives that can only be won by a provisional revolutionary Workers’ and Campesinos' Government, supported by workers’ and campesinos’ militias, following the revolutionary overthrow of the hated NAFTA regime.
A Workers’ and Campesinos’ Government will be the only government capable of guaranteeing a truly sovereign Constituent Assembly that breaks with imperialism, solves the agrarian question and in which the oppressed masses of Mexico can discuss democratically the solutions to its problems.
Emergency call to the workers and poor farmers of the United States, Latin America and of the world:
Stand up in defense of the Commune of Oaxaca!
The main ally of the comuneros of Oaxaca and the Mexican oppressed peoples, is the North American working class, and in particular, the millions of Latino immigrant workers of the United States. For the North American proletariat, the NAFTA means dismissals, wage cuts, loss of rights and privileges, and losses of benefits such as health schemes and pensions. For the Mexican working class and exploited people, the NAFTA is super-exploitation, free trade zones (maquilas), slavery, plundering the nations resources, and driving peasants off the land. The working class of the United States must rise in defense of the Commune of Oaxaca and its Mexican class brothers and sisters, demanding:
We are a same class on both sides of the border!
Down with the NAFTA! Down with the Wall of Bush, Hillary Clinton and Co!
End the persecution, super-exploitation, deportation and murder of the Mexican and Latino immigrant workers in the United States!
Immediate citizenship and all social, economic, political and trade union rights for all immigrant workers!
The NAFTA increases the profits of the US monopolies and the Mexican lackey bourgeoisie, and decreases the wages of the combined North American working class. It is necessary to increase the wages of the the workers and reduce the profits of the bosses on both sides of the border!
Equal pay for equal work!
The same conditions of work and benefits won by North American workers, for Mexican workers!
For the unity of the working class of North America in defeating the union bureaucracy of the AFL-CIO servants of US imperialism and the “Republicrats”, and the Mexican union bureaucracy, “charra”, hired thugs of the NAFTA regime of PAN, PRI and PRD!
The Leninist Trotskyist Fraction, answers the call of the Oaxaca Commune with its own Emergency Call to all workers', students' and poor farmers' organisations of America and the world to take to the streets, to surround the Mexican embassies and consulates, to make mobilizations, strikes etc., in support to the heroic fight of the workers and the oppressed people of Oaxaca to stop the repression and any attempt by Fox, Calderón and the hated NAFTA regime to smash the Commune in blood and fire.
Leninist Trotskyist Fraction - 20 October 2006
(1) see Scoop
(2) see Narconews
(3) From mid 1930s, the Mexican economy was highly protected. The state nationalised petroleum, electricity, railroads, telecommunications, and continued with some agrarian reforms. This was a continuation of the Mexican revolution of 1910-1917, now under the one party rule system of the PRI (ato). The Priato was an agreement between imperialism and the ruling class of around 24 families which ruled over the masses with statised unions led by the bureaucracy (“charros”) and enforced by the an organization of union killers (“porros”) eliminating any dissidence in the workers ranks.
The campesinos were controlled by buying the loyalty of local political bosses and heads of indigenous communities. All of this was centralised by an immense state bureaucratic apparatus which employed around six million people.
The Priato began in the mid- 1930s as a Bonapartismo “sui géneris” – that is to say, a bourgeois nationalist regime under the Lazaro Cardenas government, balanced between imperialism and the Mexican bourgeoisie and masses. But over more than 50 years it inevitably became increasingly pro-imperialist. The decline of the Priato began in the 1980s, when the imperialist offensive first caused a crisis of the external debt (1982) and then a huge devaluation after the Wall Street collapse of 1987. The Priato was by then the direct instrument of the savage imperialist plans for privatizations, deregulation, land grabs, maquila plants and massive immigration to the North, and guarantor of the super-exploitation of Mexican labor for the Yankee bourgeoisie. It thus began to lose its historic legitimacy in the eyes of the masses.
In order to retain the masses loyalty, the PRI created two clones. The son of Lazaro Cardenas founded the PRD as a sort of rebirth of the 1930s PRI. The PAN emerged as a more conservative and pro-imperialist variant. The enormous mobilizations of the masses against the electoral fraud in 1988 which was widely believed to have cost Cardenas victory, saw the beginning of an enormous worker and campesino swing against the Priato. This was boosted by the onset of civil war in Chiapas in 1994. Therefore, to prevent the masses revolutionary advance to overthrow the Priato, imperialism and the bourgeoisie devised its “transition pact”.
(4) Mexe Teachers College is one of the oldest of a network of 16 residential rural teaching colleges set up in 1922 as a result of the Mexican Revolution to train campesino teachers. By the 1990s the PRI regarded these colleges as an unnecessary cost so has kept them underfunded. The average per capita budget is less than $1,000 a year, with the average citizen spending only about $1.20 a day on food, enough for rice, tortillas and beans. At times the rural women have had no bathing water or cooking fuel. Classrooms, labs and dormitories are in a state of disrepair. These were the conditions that led to the strikes at El Mexe and Amilcingo, in the State of Morelos.
On March 7, 2000, about 200 students and their families occupied the dean's office at Mexico City's UNAM (the Spanish acronym for National Autonomous University of Mexico). The occupation was to demand the release of over 200 students jailed during the recent 10 month long students strike. See wsws
(5) For most recent events see narconews