Oaxaca’s Popular Assembly “Expels” the State Government
Events Announced to Build a “National Movement from Below”
By Nancy Davies
Commentary from Oaxaca
September 7, 2006
In an eight-and-a-half-hour-long meeting of the Popular Assembly of the People of Oaxaca (APPO) on September 3, the 193 delegates from different organizations which constitute the APPO declared the governor Ulises Ruiz Ortíz (URO) “proscrito” – banned, exiled, unwelcome – in the state of Oaxaca. The ex-governor will be replaced by a “proclamation of good government for the city of Oaxaca, a proclamation for the 570 municipalities, and a manifesto to the nation, declaring the banishment of URO from the government, and that the government will continue to be exercised from the historic center of the city of Oaxaca”.
In the following days the APPO has proclaimed various regulations for governing, including ways to open the barricades on city streets during the day, closing them only at night for protection of the radio stations and antennas.
It was proclaimed by the APPO that “laws” or rules laid down by the assembly will be binding on the rest of the state – which sure sounds to me like a state government. The forthcoming proclamations will deal with reactivating the economy, citizen security, cleanliness and beautification of the city, measures for the urban and suburban transportation system, a announcement to attract tourism, and another for “harmonic coexistence”.
On Tuesday, September 5, federal highway 190 was opened. On the 15th and 16th of September caravans will leave Oaxaca bound for other states in the north, south and center of the nation, to spread the word about Oaxaca’s movement. The APPO pronouncement is “For the construction in the nation of a single national movement from below.” On September 28 a national and international forum in solidarity with the people of Oaxaca will take place, in an as yet unspecified location.
On October 12 at 11:00 AM a statewide popular forum will be held in City Hall. Exactly where the vanished mayor is or will be has not yet been revealed. Jesús Oretega has been “missing in action” for several weeks.
In Oaxaca, the only government is the APPO, affirmed Caesar Mateos Benatez, in a press conference. He is a member of the provisional coordinating committee of the APPO. This proclamation was contradicted by Miguel Angel Concha Viloria, a spokesperson for the URO regime, who said, in essence, that would be breaking the law! Because only legally constituted governing bodies can make regulations.
People living in Oaxaca have made it known to the APPO that they feel severely inconvenienced by this revolutionary movement, not only by the loss of income, but by having to drive blocks out of their way to navigate blocked streets. Furthermore, the children are not in school and no municipal police are on the streets; there’s a curfew to discourage roving paramilitaries and ordinary thieves. Public transport is never certain, and the bus routes are regularly changed to avoid blockades.
Acknowledging the inconvenience of the revolution, Mateos Benatez said that the APPO was obliged to put forth the declarations in order to minimize the problems and inconvenience to society.
The “mobile police” of the APPO, if one can call them that, have been cruising the streets, aided mainly by cell phones and calls to radio stations to issue alarms. The new police force is “members of the Honorable Body of Topiles of the APPO and of the Magisterial Police of Oaxaca.” Topil is a word from colonial times now used for a volunteer guard or messenger under the indigenous system of usos y costumbres that governs many of the state’s small towns.
The national patriotic holidays of Mexico will be observed in the city, with the traditional “Grito de Dolores” – the reenactment of the cry for an uprising in Dolores Hidalgo that sparked Mexico’s war for independence – emanating from the capital building on September 15.
The Secretary for Citizen Protection, according to Mateo Benítez, has started to hire some 8,000 people from different parts of the state to constitute reinforcements for the state police, with a goal of massive attack on the movement’s encampments, to dislodge them “at the moment when the federal government intervenes.”
On September 6, the federal election commission (Tribunal Electoral del Poder Judicial de la Federación) unanimously declared Felipe Calderón the president elect of Mexico. Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is pushing for an alternative government.
Oaxaca is not alone in its approach to changing Mexico.
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