Oaxaca Banner Drop in Montpelier, VT

November 20th, 2006 – bobsmith writes: Activists hung a 20-foot banner across the main street in the capitol city of Vermont and handed out informational flyers and talked to passersby.

The banner stated: “VIVA The People’s Assembly of Oaxaca, Mexico. Self-determination, not State Repression”

A banner with the same slogan was also hung in Vermont’s most populace city, Burlington, at noon time as well.

The flyers contained the following text:

Viva the People’s Assembly of Oaxaca, Mexico!
Self-determination, not State Repression

November 20, 2006: Global Day of Solidarity Actions

Every year since 1980, Section 22 of the National Teachers’ Union (SNTE) has symbolically occupied Oaxaca’s historic town square for a week or two, demanding more funding for the educational needs of one of the poorest states in Mexico. But on June 14, 2006, for the first time in the 26-year history of the teachers’ movement, recently elected Governor Ulises Ruíz Ortiz of the Institutional Revolutionary Party sent over 1,000 state police to lift the teachers’ improvised tent city. The police stormed the sleeping teachers at 4 a.m., shooting tear gas grenades from helicopters and brutally beating men, women, and children with their truncheons. The police, however, did not do their math: the teachers’ union has 70,000 members, some 30,000 of whom were in Oaxaca for the protests. Within hours of the raid, teachers and outraged local citizens took to the streets, and by midday they had evicted the police.

Since the attack on teachers by the police, Oaxaca has been in a state of civil rebellion. On June 17, the Popular Assembly of the People of Oaxaca (APPO) formed, calling itself the governing body of Oaxaca and convening representatives of Oaxaca’s state regions and municipalities, unions, nongovernmental organizations, social organizations, cooperatives, and parents. APPO urged everyone to organize popular face-to-face assemblies at every level—neighborhoods, street blocks, unions, and towns, declaring: “No leader is going to solve our problems.” And so throughout the summer and fall, the teachers and hundreds grouped into APPO waged an increasingly intensive campaign of mass, coordinated civil disobedience aimed at paralyzing the state government and forcing the resignation of Ruíz Ortiz. They canceled the state’s largest tourism event, the Guelaguetza, blockaded all major state government buildings, including the capitol, forced Ruíz Ortiz and other state officials underground, and took over the state television and radio station.

The teachers of SNTE’s Section 22 agreed by majority vote to return to classes on October 30 based on an implicit guarantee of their principal demands: the governor’s resignation, and the transformation of their pay scale so as to raise their wages and benefits to the level of Mexico City teachers. But on October 27, paramilitaries in Oaxaca murdered NYC Indymedia journalist Brad Will. He was only one of dozens who have lost their lives at the hands of pro-government forces while participating in the largely nonviolent resistance, and many others have been arrested or “disappeared.” Nevertheless, Mexican president Vicente Fox used Brad’s death as a pretext to send 4,000 federal police into the city. These forces are now brutalizing the population and attempting to crush the grassroots movement. The only reason that hundreds more have not yet been killed is that the Mexican government fears the response domestically and internationally.

“Not One Step Backwards! Forever, until Victory!”
—Popular Assembly of the People of Oaxaca

In solidarity, the Zapatistas have called for a Mexico-wide general strike and road blockades on November 20. They also encourage everyone around the world to show their support by taking action on the same day. We support the struggle for autonomy, dignity, and justice in Oaxaca, and the demands of the people of Oaxaca and APPO:

• Ulises Ruíz out of Oaxaca
• Immediate withdrawal of the occupying federal force from Oaxaca
• Immediate and unconditional freedom for all detainees
• Cancel all arrest warrants
• Punish the murderers
• Justice, freedom, and democracy!

What You Can Do TODAY!

1. Call, e-mail, or fax the Mexican Consulate today, and let them know you are paying attention to the repression of one of the most truly democratic representations of the will of the people in the Western hemisphere:

Toll-free: (877) 426-4181, or (617) 426-4181 and (617) 426-8782
Fax: (617) 695-1957

2. Educate yourself and keep up-to-date about the directly democratic social movement in Oaxaca and APPO, and let others know what’s going on. Some good resources are:

• Narco News at http://www.narconews.com
• Chiapas 95 Archives at eco.utexas.edu/~archive/chiapas95
• Indymedia at http://www.indymedia.org
• La Jornada at jornada.unam.mx/ultimas
• Friends of Brad Will at http://www.friendsofbradwill.org

3. Join central Vermonters at 7 p.m. tonight, November 20, for a discussion about Oaxaca and APPO at the Langdon Street Café, 4 Langdon Street, Montpelier

“Solidarity with Others Is Our Own Protection”
—Popular Indigenous Council of Oaxaca

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