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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Oaxaca, la longue marche des instits mexicains

by Bernard Duraud

Oaxaca, the Long March of the Mexican Teachers

Translated Monday 16 October 2006

Mexico. Thousands of teachers and members of popular groups, on strike in Oaxaca, arrive in Mexico City.

Thousands of teachers from Oaxaca and members of the Popular Assembly of the People of Oaxaca (APPO) arrived Monday in Mexico City after a three week march. Upon entering the federal city they were joined by a large colorful crowd. They held a meeting upon arriving to the historical center of the City and were joined by some twenty leftists associations and by members of “The Other Campaign” (from the Zapatista movement), before starting to march towards the Senate close-by where hordes of policemen were waiting.

The demonstrators are putting pressure on the government to find a solution to the uprising which started in Oaxaca four months ago. Their mobilization, which started as demands for better salaries, turned into a combined protest of some 360 civil society groups which make up the APPO (the Popular Assembly of the People of Oaxaca), much of the population of the State of Oaxaca showing solidarity with “our teachers”. Oaxaca, a major tourist center of the south of Mexico, surrounded by poverty-stricken barrios and villages, has been reduced to a state of siege.

The priority of the demonstrators is to obtain the resignation and the trial of Governor Ulises Ruiz, held responsible for the extremely violent repression in Oaxaca on June the 14th of this year. Eleven people were murdered and many others arrested. Governor Ruiz came to power in 2004, through a fraudulent election. He insists he will stay in power until the end of his mandate in 2010, and denies accusations of corruption and authoritarianism. Since June the movement against Ruiz has become increasingly radicalized.

Last Monday, there was a meeting between the APPO leaders and the minister of the interior, Carlos Abascal. A “provisional agreement” seemed possible with a gradual increase in salaries and the liberation of imprisoned militants. But Governor Ruiz is still in power, so there is no question yet of the teachers conceding.

President Vicente Fox has promised to resolve “the Oaxaca case” before he quits as head of state on December lst, 2006. This would require him to dissociate himself from Ulises Ruiz. Unimaginable. The PRI(in power in Mexico for 70 years) and the PAN (the neo-liberals in power since 2000) both need each other. The PRI has become the essential ally of the next PAN government of the new President Felipe Calderon to run the country.

The conflict shows no sign of ending and the demonstrators are likely to settle in for the duration in Mexico City.

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