Workers Vanguard No. 884

19 January 2007


Defend the Victims of State Repression in Mexico!

Free All Oaxaca Prisoners Now! Drop the Charges!

(Young Spartacus pages)

We print below a translation of a December 21 leaflet issued by the Juventud Espartaquista, youth group of the Grupo Espartaquista de México, section of the International Communist League, protesting the arrests and torture of members of the teachers union and their sympathizers in Oaxaca. Last May the teachers in Oaxaca, one of the poorest states in Mexico, struck for decent wages. Up to 80,000 teachers participated in combative demonstrations demanding greater resources for public education and raising slogans against the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) government. Their struggle rallied the support of workers and poor people in Oaxaca and throughout Mexico. Teachers and their supporters occupied the center of the city of Oaxaca and successfully beat back several police attacks. Subsequently, the federal and local police unleashed brutal repression, rounding up protesters and dismantling the barricades (see “Protest Bloody Crackdown in Mexico!” WV No. 882, 8 December 2006).

As of January 12, some of those detained in Nayarit, Tlacolula and Miahautlán prisons have been released on bail, but the charges against them have not been dropped. Dozens of people, including Flavio Sosa and other prominent leaders of the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO), remain imprisoned. Reports of torture and sexual abuse of prisoners continue to be publicized, including of the rape of 15 men held in Nayarit prison.

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After more than five months of militant struggle, an indication of how much the Oaxacan masses are fed up with the misery and racist oppression in which they live, Oaxaca has been turned into the scene of a merciless witchhunt against leftist activists and the general population. Following the brutal state repression on November 25 against a peaceful march of the APPO and its sympathizers—which demanded the ouster of the bloody governor Ulises Ruiz Ortiz, freedom for political prisoners, and the withdrawal of the PFP [Federal Preventive Police]—the PFP and state police circle the streets like vultures and illegally search houses for APPO members and sympathizers. Some 60 people have been “disappeared” at this time. Approximately 300 people have been detained who have suffered, to a lesser or greater degree in different cases, beatings, torture, threats of being “disappeared,” sexual abuse, etc. In addition, arrest warrants have been issued for around 300 other people, many of them teachers belonging to Section 22 of the SNTE [National Educational Workers Union]. Dozens have been released but still face trial.

On Monday, December 4, four leading members of the APPO—among them the brothers Flavio and Horacio Sosa Villavicencio—were arrested by the PFP in Mexico City after traveling there to demonstrate their desire to continue negotiations with Gobernación [the Ministry of the Interior]. Their arrest was a gross and calculated ambush. Flavio and Horacio are in the maximum security prison of Altiplano—formerly La Palma —accused of a ridiculous list of crimes such as sedition, kidnapping, battery and robbery, among others. Three more leaders of the APPO were arrested as they left an SNTE meeting in Oaxaca on December 18.

The Juventud Espartaquista solidarizes with the struggle of the Oaxacan masses against state repression and emphatically protests the abuse suffered by the detained. In defending the activists in the Oaxaca struggle, we are also defending the right of the left and workers movement as a whole to exist and struggle. We of the Juventud Espartaquista say: Drop all the charges! Immediate and unconditional freedom for all the arrested! PFP and army out of Oaxaca! There is no justice in the bourgeois courts!

Among those arrested in Oaxaca are at least five students from the UNAM [National Autonomous University of Mexico, centered in Mexico City]: Carmen Fernández Xicoténcatl and Julieta Cruz Cruz, both sociology students in the School of Political and Social Sciences; Sacramento Delfino Cano Hernández, student at the School of Philosophy and Literature; Christian Marcel Cebolledo Gutiérrez, student at the Economics School; and Edith Coca Soriano, student at the School of Advanced Studies—Iztacala. These students did nothing more than solidarize with the teachers in Oaxaca—and their allies in the APPO—who, in one of the poorest states and while receiving miserably low salaries, struggle under horrendous conditions to provide education to children who often do not even have enough to eat.

Carmen, Julieta and Sacramento were violently detained on November 30 during an illegal search of a private home in the city of Oaxaca. After having been “disappeared” for two days, they are currently imprisoned in Miahuatlán on spurious charges of carrying illegal arms, robbing a truck, criminal association, impersonating a public official, attempted bribery, and assault with a sharp instrument against the police who detained them. For his part, Christian was kidnapped and tortured for several days after his capture on November 25 by the PFP in Oaxaca. He was threatened with being raped, burnt and flung from a helicopter. He is now imprisoned in a maximum security prison in the state of Nayarit, facing ridiculous charges like obstructing arrest, sedition, arson and criminal association.

Women have suffered particularly brutal treatment, illustrating the fundamentally anti-woman nature of the capitalist state, in which women must accept a condition of submission and imprisonment in the home. One woman teacher at [Metropolitan Autonomous University] UAM-Xochimilco had two fingers cut off in a beating carried out by the PFP. Another woman activist was beaten unconscious. The 34 women arrested on November 25 had their heads shaved. When they were imprisoned in Tlacolula, Oaxaca, they were subjected to abusive interrogations. Their tormentors put clubs between their legs and threatened to rape them.

The PAN [ruling National Action Party] beast is very dangerous. After his dubious electoral victory and militarized swearing-in, Felipe Calderón has combined the arrests of the main leaders of the APPO with a state of siege in Oaxaca, with the goal of obliterating the Oaxacan social movement. The sedition charge against Flavio Sosa and others is an attempt to outlaw social protest. With this Calderón intends to send a sinister message, both to the leftist activists and to his bourgeois opponents in the PRD [left-nationalist Party of the Democratic Revolution], that he means to intensify armed repression against all those who oppose his designs. On Wednesday, December 6, the PGR [attorney general’s office] leaked information that 79 previous investigations against AMLO [former PRD presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador] are still active (La Jornada, 9 December 2006). (For more information about our position on the desafuero [removal of immunity] of AMLO, see the GEM leaflet of 7 April 2005, “Down with the desafuero of López Obrador! Break with the PRD and the other bosses parties! For the political independence of the working class!” [reprinted as “Mexico: Down With Fox’s Attack on Mayor López Obrador!” in WV No. 846, 15 April 2005].) According to the Ministry of the Interior, its priority is for the country to “have a lesser volume or number of movements that disturb social peace” (La Jornada, 8 December 2006). This is why the budget for the armed forces has been increased by 2 billion pesos—reducing the resources for public education by 4.5 billion pesos—and why 10,000 troops have been transferred from the army to the PFP. Calderón’s cabinet is notorious for being infested with all sorts of genocidal repressors and religious obscurantists (such as the ex-governor of the state of Jalisco, Francisco Ramírez Acuña, known, among other things, for his brutal repression in May 2004 against anti-globalization protesters in Guadalajara, or Eduardo Medina Mora, who as SSP [Secretary of Public Security] was one of the main architects of the murderous repression in Atenco, Lázaro Cárdenas and Oaxaca).

In the face of this, a large part of the working class and oppressed see the PRD, with AMLO at its head, as representing their interests. But this bourgeois party is only different from the PAN and the PRI to the degree that it seeks to base itself on the support of the working class and oppressed in order to more efficiently subjugate them and carry out a program against the interests of the proletariat. The PRD seeks to co-opt the struggle in Oaxaca and the struggle to free the Oaxaca prisoners, but won’t hesitate one minute to use the forces of repression against those who today support it. This is what it did during the UNAM strike in 1999, against the workers of Sicartsa [in April the PRD-led government in Michoacán sent state police against striking steel workers], or the peasants of Atenco this year, among many other examples. The bourgeois state—whose core is the police, the army, the courts and the prisons—cannot serve the interests of the exploited and oppressed, no matter which party or person is ruling. It is necessary to smash the bourgeois state through socialist revolution.

The APPO, the Oaxacan teachers and all those who struggle against the depredations of capitalism—such as our five imprisoned university brothers and sisters—must not face this state onslaught by themselves. It is in the interests of the entire workers movement to fight for the immediate freedom of all the activists imprisoned in the struggle in Oaxaca. It is necessary to mobilize the immense power of the industrial working class, which is derived from its relationship to the means of production, through strike actions to defeat the current government attack. Students must join with the working class’ immense power to struggle. We call on workers, youth, student collectives and the oppressed in general to mobilize in defense of the APPO and its sympathizers. An injury to one is an injury to all!

We must combat all illusions in the bourgeoisie and its parties—PRI, PAN and PRD—as well as the nationalist ideology that they promote. The dividing line that matters for the workers and oppressed is the class line, not the border between countries. It is necessary for the exploited and oppressed in Mexico to ally with the powerful multiracial U.S. proletariat, whose important Latino immigrant component forms a human bridge between the oppressed on both sides of the Río Bravo. We struggle to forge revolutionary-internationalist workers parties capable of leading the struggle for world socialist revolution—the only way to stop the brutal repression and oppression against workers and the oppressed on a global level once and for all.