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UPDATE OAXACA January 20, 2010: Political winds

By • Jan 21st, 2010 • Category: News & Analysis


Source: OSAG –
By: Nancy Davies –

While Juan Manuel Martinez in Ixcotel prison hollers for help, SNTE Section
22 already has him logged onto their agenda, Secretary General Chepi said on
Monday at a meeting in Juchitán where a burro festival also livened the
atmosphere. The problem, of course, is that the teachers also must deal with
the assassination of professor Eleazar Martinez Almaraz in San Augustin
Loxicha, the recent attempted homicide against Jaime Rosas Chavez in
Huahuapan de Leon, plus the April 2009 assassination of a PRD woman, along
with all the rest of the murders still unpunished.

At the same time, the former secretary of Teacher Training Formation of
Section 59, Alejandro Osorio Solórzano announced that he has initiated talks
with the directors of Section 22 to eventually rejoin 22— a huge bargaining
unit in any comparison. The catch is that Osorio wants it to be optional for
teachers to attend political marches and rallies, a policy which would soon
lessen the clout of Section 22, but which would help resolve the split in
loyalties among parents, while kicking Dragon Lady for Life Elba Esther
Gordillo in her political butt. If the return is not negotiated, Osorio
noted, he would push for the creation of a state union of education workers,
bringing along about 100 teachers who resigned from Section 59, which, not
surprisingly, now is another corrupted organization.

In other words, it’s a busy time for Section 22. Chepi states that “the
politics of deaf ears” and the upcoming July 4 election for governor, will
put the teachers into massive actions on several fronts starting on January
18 in Miahuatlan, (see photo) followed by various state-wide assemblies. The
teachers’ presence in the gubernatorial election is now a foregone
conclusion.

So what about the elections? For novices in the baroque routines of Oaxaca
politics, the first step involved getting the “opposition coalition” in
order. This means that the non-PRI (the decades-long ruling party, Partido
Institucional ) parties, with no regard whatsoever for ideologies, and no
presently fixed candidates, had to receive from their state party
headquarters respective permission to go ahead and join an opposition
coalition. Thus while the state PRD, and state Convergencia were asked for
permissions, they also had to consult their national parties. The national
result, where 11 governors are coming up for re-election, is a hodge-podge:
in one state an alliance of PAN and PT (neoliberal PAN and Workers Party)
formed, while in another state the coalition is not aimed at ousting the PRI
as in Oaxaca, but at ousting the incumbent PAN, so you see a coalition of
PRI and PT. Whew! In Oaxaca, the voter weakness of all the coalition
parties is revealed, particularly the PAN and the PRD. The PRD was hijacked
nationally by “the chuchos”, (guys with the first name of Jesus), leaving
presidential candidate Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador strolling the Oaxaca
hinterland with baby drool on his shirtfront. Oaxaca, of all the states, had
a large functioning PRD, especially on the Isthmus. But if the PAN forms a
coalition with its arch nemesis PRD, which refused to recognize Felipe
Calderon and refers to Lopez Obrador as the “legitimate” president, we can
guess how weak those two parties feel. The PAN suffers from the piss-poor
image of President Calderon, and the PRD has been decimated. To note how the
wind blows, Convergencia (and who knows what their politics are, certainly
not Left) hopeful Gabino Cué went off to visit Calderon to make nice, i.e.,
assure Calderon that Cué would not undermine him, as the PRD has done. With
all that, in many states as well as in Oaxaca, the PRI by itself outnumbers
any opposition coalition.

An exception to that might be caused by a rupture in the PRI. Here in
Oaxaca, the fight for the PRI nomination is underway, and the worse they
fight the better I like it. The revelation that Jorge Franco Vargas was
signing with a false “licenciado”, meaning he signed public documents with a
false law degree title, was well-publicized by *Noticias*. El Chucky, as we
like to call him, is fading, but those moving into the front ranks are
numerous, and either dull or scandalous. One suggestion made is that the
teachers take on the roll of monitoring the election in July; I’m uncertain
how that would be legalized. Poll watchers are just for decoration, they can
not say or do anything.

The opposition alliance is not as incredible as it sounds, as long as you
keep in mind that the only goal is to win, and political positions have
nothing to do with it. Not only the parties, but civil society organizations
like EDUCA and “Reforemos Oaxaca” (Let’s Reform Oaxaca), are working to
ready a platform because it is assumed that whichever party fields the
coalition candidate, the entire coalition will sign on to the platform.
What, you ask, implement the platform? No, just sign on. It will certainly
include citizen participation, referendum, recall, and maybe a second ballot
in case of no majority. When evoking the mythic 2010 100th anniversary of
the Mexican Revolution, the slogan for Oaxaca is: Fish or cut bait. Now or
never.

In Oaxaca it’s no surprise that the PRI refers to the opposition alliance as
something like a two-headed calf, a critter that was never meant to be and
cannot survive. In addition, Franco Vargas has already started to undermine,
bribe and co-opt coalition workers.* *Going beyond Oaxaca, PRI governments
in other states stand determined to prevent alliances in Puebla, Durango and
Hidalgo, declaring such coalitions illegal and throwing up a variety of
legal blocks. Lopez Obrador insists that voters look at the candidate, not
the candidate’s party. Well may he say so, since without the PRD, Lopez
Obrador promotes Worker Party candidates, and incidentally, Gabino Cué.

The people? Well, I don’t suppose they will win much, but on the cheery
side, in Oaxaca there’s nothing left to lose. Fracturing the PRI, after
umpteen decades of their cement-and-death grip throughout the state’s
twelve regions, has become the only, the most important goal.

The regions for electoral purposes: Cañada, Mazateca, Mixteca Baja, Mixteca
Alta, Chinantla, Sierra Zapoteca, Región Mixe, Valle de Oaxaca, Mixteca de
la Costa, Sierra del Sur, Istmo y Chimalapas. Oaxaca contains 570
municipalities (Chiapas has 118). Of the 570 “municipios”, 418 contain
populations
badly reduced by emigration, but predominantly indigenous. And therein they
connect both the bad and the good: the marginalization of an extremely
neglected and undereducated population, and the retention of local uses and
customs based on mutual aid. The PRI caciques who in past elections
collected voter credentials to photocopy, and assured the local voters that
there was no such thing as a secret ballot, once again are packing
food-boxes ahead of the elections. Maybe this time it will not work; Section
22 is going all-out for statewide rural education.

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