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Turn the Corner

category north america / mexico | community struggles | opinion / analysis author Thursday September 04, 2008 06:50author by Kiado Cruz - Report this post to the editors

At this moment, the Oaxacan social movement appears to be fragmented and pulled in many different directions. It's necessary to turn the corner in order to visualize the profound change that we all long for and need in Oaxaca.
Oaxaca Repression
Oaxaca Repression

At this moment, the Oaxacan social movement appears to be fragmented and pulled in many different directions, some seeking an uncomfortable relationship with the regime, others hoping the worst has passed, and still others moving in new directions. There seems to be a general paralysis, expressed in the common belief that only a divine intervention (without a doubt well-deserved) can actually put an end to this regime. We know that none of those options seem likely.

It's necessary to turn the corner in order to visualize the profound change that we all long for and need in Oaxaca. It seems most realistic and with the greatest probability of success, to continue with the regeneration of an opposition movement, based in actual Oaxacan reality, starting with the fact that nobody likes URO (the fraudulently elected governor of Oaxaca, Ulises Ruiz Ortiz) nor his people. There are difficult elements that can also serve to bind us together in order to create the broadest and most united movement - because the pressures that the neighborhoods and communities are suffering are very acute and the demands of everyday life are very intense and diverse. It can frequently be observed that the mobilizations organized to present demands to the authorities don't in reality correspond to the priorities or authentic needs of the people, but to circumstantial factors that receive the most urgent attention and while neglecting the most important issues.

Reviewing the situation we come across many elements to help regain the initiative - not with barricades but with an effort for the construction of alternatives - we need concrete actions in which the people, fed up with everything, can participate. Perhaps we can learn from the foolishness of URO, when in September 2006, everything was against him. He took a gamble, didn't yield, and was able to change his luck and reestablish himself. We can do the same with much greater legitimacy.

For a long time, we've become accustomed to believing that power comes only from legislative assemblies. I've considered this belief a grave error caused by inertia and a kind of hypnotism. A superficial study of history has made us think that all power is handed to the people by parliaments. The radical thing is that the power is actually in the people and is only momentarily entrusted to those whom the people choose to elect as their own representatives.

Parliaments don't have power and couldn't even exist independent of the people. To convince people of this simple reality is sometimes difficult, but I believe that civil disobedience is the root of power. Neither Gandhi nor the indigenous peoples accept that democracy is the provenance of government, not even a government "of the people, by the people, for the people". They don't see democracy as a system of governance, although as "double speak" the Zapatistas refer to this concept, as Gandhi did. So that the political parties and others of that mindset may understand, we can describe this to them in terms they recognize, as means for the perfecting of formal democracy. But for us it's something else, substantially different. The formal system of government, with elections and so on, can be used as a type of political umbrella that permits the creation of other spaces to recreate this something else, and this something else is really "communalocracy", something essentially different from formal democracy.

It is important to reflect on our actions if our movement is really to be beyond ideologies or if we are really to be a movement that has a face and a heart that we intuitively know is based in the depths of our way of thinking, feeling and acting that we inherited from our ancestors and that in recent decades has been called communalism, understood as the common good for those that are the community. With this intuition we can be sure that amongst ourselves we can define the constructive means of action and can learn from the revolutionary past, which in order to gain power surrendered to bourgeois reformism as a result of it lacking a clear project for the country, state, neighborhood, or community. That is to say, they didn't take the time to consider proposals that attacked the root issues in order to go beyond not just the established order, but also to go beyond the chaos generated as a result of not having a constructive program.

Meanwhile, repression continues under the rubric of security, the police presence increases and with it common crime, as well as violent assaults and kidnappings. Intimidation against the opposition continues and the political prisoners remain as hostages of the system. But no manner of police or military coercion can bend the will of the people, because the people understand the connection between the presence of police and the presence of crime, from the stories and personal experiences they've lived through. For the times that are coming, we must be sure of something. Because they will be times of struggle. We are learning what that means. In the meantime, in order to defeat the rationale of our adversaries we must be doubly sure of our own. And this is more difficult that it appears. Human reason is not the child, as some believe, of the disputes between men, but of the loving dialogue that searches for coexistence independent of, but inseparable from, personal complexities.

Kiado Cruz is editor of

Translated from the Spanish by Scott Campbell:

Spanish original:

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