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(en) Mexico, Oaxaca ASARO: Stalinists and traitors wanted to overtake the APPO

Date Wed, 23 May 2007 00:06:32 +0300

Below you will find an e-mail written by a friend and fellow anarchist who has been working and organizing in Oaxaca for quite some time and who wishes to remain anomyous for the time being due to security concerns (as do I). A broader explanation of the situation here in Oaxaca follows, highlighting the role of Stalinist groups in the repression of anarchists and others. If anyone would like to see a photo of ASARO's grafitti portraits of Stalin, I am happy to send them to individuals; I assume they were not included in the art show at ABC. I hope that this results in a greater level of responsibility from ABC No Rio and Visual Resistance. ------ Dear all, --- I was dismayed when I saw that the work of the ASARO art collective is being shown in NYC, and at a space like ABC No RIO. The majority of ASARO members are Stalinists; sometimes they hide it, but often, at least in Oaxaca, they openly show-off their enormous portraits of Stalin, Engles, etc. (see attached photo of ASARO grafiti). More importantly, the authoritarian heritage of these groups manifests itself in their political behavior (as the article, below, explains). They've betrayed all the unaffiliated folks (or those from indigenous or anarchist groups) that choose to stay away from political parties (as well as front groups like ASARO and the FPR) and who risked their lives, and continue to do so, in the face of the selective repression that now dominates life in Oaxaca.

Alebrijes and Opportunists
On the Reorganization of the Oaxacan Social Movement
Roberto Ram=EDrez
May 18, 2007
M=E9xico -
There is a struggle within the Peoples' Popular Assembly of Oaxaca (APPO
in its Spanish initials): how to reactivate and reorganize the movement
after the brutal repression the people suffered on November 25, 2006. Part
of this includes a fight for hegemony within the APPO's council (a body
created to give the organization structure) and it's a fight that has had
several matrices and has generated great discord.
After a period of re-articulation, the council's first attempt to
reactivate the movement was to convene the First APPO State Assembly for
February 10th and 11th, 2007. The main issues to be debated were the
upcoming August 5th Congressional elections and the October 7th elections
in which 148 of the 570 municipalities would choose new government
Before this assembly took place, one sector of the APPO council met with
the leaders of the Broad Progressive Front (FAP in its Spanish initials)
regarding the elections. The council members had created a provisional
list of electoral APPO candidates-going against the rest of the council
which believed that whether or not the APPO would participate in the
elections ought to be decided by the entire Assembly.
In light of this prior meeting, the discussion during the February State
Assembly concerning elections was long and overshadowed all other agenda
issues. This electoral question was a tactical concern for the group. In
the long run, the struggle was against Governor Ulises Ruiz, for the
transformation of the state and for the freedom of political prisoners.
Some believe that Congress could be a battle ground and that APPO should
enter. But others argued that participating in elections betrayed APPO's
fundamental principles and was disrespectful to member organizations who
believed that the struggle should not enter the electoral ring. These
organizations stated that APPO can't be allowed to turn into a launching
pad for politicians.
The discussion remained deadlocked on the night of Sunday the 11th. When
dawn broke, many assembly members had already left, exhausted by the
endless discussion. Member of the March 2nd Collective and of the
Coalition of Oaxacan Women (COMO), delegate Guadalupe Garc=EDa Leyva had
been attacking those who refused to participate in the elections. She also
accused accused prominent APPO council member David Venegas Reyes-know as
Alebrije*-of being a police plant.
David was a member of the Assembly's debate roundtable and as a council
member, had participated in the previous meeting where the elections
question was debated. Also as a representative of the FAP, he made clear
at other moments that he did not agree that APPO should take the electoral
Several delegates became furious on hearing Garcia Leyva's accusations-to
the point that it almost tore the APPO in two. But when it was his time to
speak, Venegas Reyes stated: "these accusations only demonstrate that
those APPO representatives who favor electoral advancement have no real
arguments on which to defend their position," and that since the
accusations were obviously false, he would not respond to them directly.
After getting over this crisis, the session agreed that the APPO as an
organization would not participate in the upcoming elections. Member
organizations who decided to take part in the electoral process, would
have to enter separately and not under the APPO name. In addition, any
councilperson seeking election would have to resign from the APPO council.
Inventing Criminals
After the November 25th repression, APPO council members began to be
persecuted. Despite the fact that the media was saying that all council
members were subject to persecution indiscriminately, the truth is that
the persecution was selective and included many of the people in charge of
the blockades as well as active community members. Many were forced to
leave Oaxaca because of the state-imposed repressive environment. Those
detained were accused of various crimes including sedition, criminal
association, and attacking outlets of communication, to name a few.
The coordinators of the main barricades-among them Alebrije Venegas-took
measures to protect themselves but maintained contact with the APPO
council. But a new phase had begun in which high government officials
negotiated were negotiating with some parts of the APPO. Ulise Ruiz's
government would negotiate on the one hand, and criminalize those who
refused, on the other.
It was in this context that Venegas was violently detained on April 13th
near the El Llano Park. According to his comrades, his arrest was the
government's attempt to paralyze Alebrije's activism within the newly
created group, Oaxacan Voices Building Autonomy and Freedom (VOCAL in its
Spanish initials). He had recently released a magazine named Barrikada and
was planning on presenting it that same night in the Institute of Graphic
Arts of Oaxaca (IAGO) and on the FM station "Radio sin mando." He was also
working within the APPO to prevent the dealing of electoral nominations.
His arrest was arbitrary; there was not even an arrest warrant issued.
Twelve hours after his April 13th detention in the afternoon, David was
brought before the legal body that deals with small-time drug offenses-the
Unidad Mixta de Atenci=F3n a Narcomenudeos (UMAN) in Spanish. Those who
visited him during that period reported that he had been beaten-a claim
confirmed by a photograph published later in ADNSureste. However the
photograph also showed him with a bag that supposedly contains 30 grams of
heroin, though to this date there is no proof that he was in possession of
that bag at the time of his arrest.
On the morning of April 15th, after having spent one day in the custody of
the Office of the National District Attorney, Alebrije was moved to the
Ixcotel penitentiary. There, he was told that there had been another
capture order issued for him-one that charged him with sedition and arson
in relation to the November 25th burning of the Oaxaca Superior
Courthouse. Many other APPO leaders are still being held on charges
relating to this day.
The Power of Sowing Disaccord
During the weeks prior to the First APPO State Assembly, the Popular
Revolutionary Front (FPR) had forged a series of alliances in order to
strengthen their support for engaging the APPO in elections. Among their
most important allies were the August 1st contingent of the COMO, the
Democratic Coalition of Teachers, the March 2nd Collective, the Broad
Popular Struggle Front (FALP) and the New Oaxacan Left. They also revived
parts of the FPR-such as the Union of Mexican Revolutionary Youth, the
Union of Poor Campesinos and the Union of Educational Workers. All of
these organizations were, for the time being, carrying forward
congressional candidates under the APPO name.
FPR operates indirectly: members of their group start rumors which the FPR
later affirms with declarations or actions. Guadalupe Leyva's accusations
against David Venegas for his non-agreement concerning elections and for
becoming her principle opposition is just one example. During council
meetings, meeting with other groups and in neighborhood gathering, the
rumors against Venegas and other VOCAL members were repeated. FPR relies
on these types of mis-information schemes to generate mistrust within the
APPO council and to strengthen the FPR block.
APPO spokesman and FPR member Florentino L=F3pez, mentioned David Venegas's
arrest only once: "The anti-APPO offensive has been revived because there
are now 43 political prisoners," he stated. Despite the international
mobilization to free David, the spokesman has stayed silent on the issue
aside from this brief, indirect acknowledgement.
Analyzing this situation on her program Shotgun Radio, Doctor Bertha Mu=F1oz
explained her experience with being isolated and thus subjected to such
mis-information campaigns: "While in exile, news only comes filtered by
council member Felipe Canseco-like that Alebrije's arrest was a government
hoax to quiet the rumors that he was a member of the police."
The Doctor also made declarations that the FPR had held meeting with Lopez
Oprador on behalf of the APPO and that it had called on the organization
to "close ranks and clean-up its own backyard."
Despite all this and its negotiations with FAP, the FPR-led electoral
block has thus far only managed to get one candidate on the Congressional
plurinominal list. Zen=E9n Bravo Castellanos is number 10 on the list and
Carmen Jicayan's nomination is still in doubt. Given the way elections
work, this essentially means that the APPO members have almost no chance
of entering Congress.
Alebrije Behind Bars
As the APPO's internal struggle continues, council member David Venegas
has written several letters from jail, speaking out against his
incarceration and analyzing the movement. There has been international
outcry demanding David's release but David has also received threats in
prison to force him to negotiate and quiet those who call for his freedom,
according to a May 2nd letter he wrote.
The movement for his liberation also caused concern regarding FPR's
organizational tactics. In a public statement read on May 6th in the
National Forum Against Repression, Zapatista leader Sub-Commander Marcos
announced his support for Alebrije and criticized the FPR as a political
organization "supposedly left-wing...that claims it agrees with the
principles of the Other Campaign when it's convenient but then distances
itself when it's not. These people are not looking for power to be able to
persecute anarchists and libertarians because they are already persecuting
others-they are persecuting those that think differently and those that
have and struggle for a different vision of society."
During the demonstration commemorating Day of the Teacher in Oaxaca on May
15th, one of David Venegas' letters was read publicly in the heart of the
city. In it, he expresses his unease, calls attention to the fact that
some of the APPO council members had betrayed the movement and points to
some of the odd happenings he witnessed before and after his arrest.
Alebrije also described the criminalization of his VOCAL comrades and the
FPR's complicity in the face of these drastic situations.
After all this, and after the failure of the FPR to obtain any well placed
electoral nominations, the fight in Oaxaca for control of the APPO council
has worsened. Yet it's important to note that the bases continue to
mobilize and create their own initiatives that stay true to APPO's roots.
It's in this context that Dr. Bertha Mu=F1oz commented in Shotgun Radio,
that the "other phase of the movement" has begun-one in which not only
FPR's actions are publicly denounced, but also in which reorganization is
needed and a new APPO State Assembly ought to be convened. We will soon
see what happens...
Alebrijes are well-known traditional Oaxacan crafts. They are colorful,
creative figurines whose style and shape are derived from recent popular
culture and imagination.
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