December 9th, 2006 – Mumia Abu-Jamal writes: Several weeks ago, a long, dusty trail of thousands winded their way from the southern city of Oaxaca, to the capital of Mexico City, some 800 kilometers (or over 250 miles) to support democracy, and demand the removal of the governor, who got there through a stolen, and deeply corrupt election.
The marchers, a motley crew of teachers, students, farmers, vendors, and the like, made their tortuous way over mountain and valleys, through slashing rains, blistering heat, and numbing cold, marching for 19 days, to take their complaints to the seat of government.
The group, calling itself the Popular Assembly of the People of Oaxaca (or APPO, the Spanish acronym for Asemblea Popular del Pueblo de Oaxaca), has rocked Mexico with its strong, principled insistence that elections be truly fair and free of corruption, and that the will of the People be heard.
I’ve actually been reading about the events in Oaxaca for several weeks, and every time I read about them, I thought of Americans, who quietly accepted the corrupt elections of 2000, and of 2004, like lambs being led to shishkabobs.
For, the stolen elections of 2000 in Florida, and later 2004 in Ohio, have done unprecedented damage to the very notion of democracy, and shattered the faith of millions in the electoral process.
The people of Oaxaca, braving not just the natural elements, but the political ones as well, indeed, the terrorism of the ‘instruments of the state’ (police and military violence), have proven by their march and protests that true democracy is deeply important to the people.
The APPO, which has sparked resistance throughout Mexico City, and in other parts of the country, has created a political crisis in the nation, by its fervent demand for the removal of Oaxaca governor, Ulises Ruiz, and the restoration of democracy.
The crisis arises from the fact that many of the country’s political parties are doing their damnedest to silence, derail, or intimidate the people; for if they are successful (they fear) there will be two, three, a dozen Oaxacas all across the country.
Oaxaca, although the poorest state in Mexico, and one with the largest indigenous population, is inspiring people far and beyond its southern Mexican borders.
The Oaxaca resistance was born in repression, when Governor Ruiz ordered the police assault on the striking Oaxaca teachers’ union in June. The teachers fought back, and within days, over 300,000 people gathered in a mass march to support the union. Out of that massive outpouring of support came the APPO, the Popular Assembly. The continuing crisis in Mexico may push social forces to join the radicalizing efforts of the APPO, or may open the door to the threatened terror of the ‘instruments of the state.’ To be frank, what began in repression may indeed end in more repression; but that will not, nor could truly be the end.
That’s because the forces that gave rise to APPO are still rumbling barely beneath the surface, ready to emerge in another state, where workers and the poor are struggling to resist the ravenous forces of globalism.
When the poor are treated poorly, when workers are poorly paid, the conditions for resistance are already present.
And while the temptation of the State to use its brutal ‘instruments’ may be strong, it’s also very possible that it may spark more resistance, deeper and broader.
Oaxaca is spreading like the wind, and the examples of popular and indigenous resistance from Mexico, like the APPO, and the Zapatistas, and various struggles from throughout Latin America, are spreading also.
The people of Oaxaca should be supported, not just with words, but with similar organizing against flawed and corrupt elections, from folks all over the world.
It should begin with the people of the U.S.
Copyright 2006 Mumia Abu-Jamal