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E. IV.9.a. 2006: Rebellion in Oaxaca and People Power to contest a Presidential Election

Volume One -> E. Resisting Oppressive, Dictatorial, Military or Authoritarian Rule -> E. IV. Latin America -> E. IV.9. Mexico -> E. IV.9.a. 2006: Rebellion in Oaxaca and People Power to contest a Presidential Election

Two separate movements of protest occurred in Mexico in 2006. The first took place in the state of Oaxaca, partly inspired by anger at the fraudulent election of the governor, in which 60% of the electorate abstained. Unrest began in May, when the teachers demanded a pay rise, and over six months became a popular revolt creating its own democratic institutions. The resistance mebraced a wide range of methods, including state-wide strikes and hunger strikes, marches of up to 800,000 people, occupation of government buildings and a peaceful takeover by women of the state TV station for 3 weeks. This was not a strictly nonviolent movement – for example students and local citizens fought the police to maintain their occupation of the university, and barricades were thrown up to defend public spaces. But it was an impressive example of people power. Attempts at violent repression by the government – detention, torture and use of death squads – encouraged mass involvement.

People power to contest rigged elections took place when Lopez Obrador mobilized 500,000 and then one million demonstrators to protest in July 2006 against the dubious victory of Felipe Calderon in the presidential elections and called for a recount. But this failed to force the authorities to review the results. Here the left was protesting against a candidate favoured by Washington. Not all commentators agreed that the electoral process had been seriously flawed.

Denham, Diana, Teaching Rebellion: Stories from tbe Grassroots Mobilization in Oaxaca, Oakland CA, PM Press, 2008, pp. 381

Compiles testimonies from protest organisers, teachers, unionists, religious leaders, indigenous community activists, housewives and others represented at the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca which emerged from the 2006 movement.

Estrada, Luis ; Poire, Alejandro, Taught to protest, learning to lose, Journal of Democracy, Vol. 18, issue 1, 2007, pp. 73-87

Argues popular protests led by Obrador against election results undermined democratic process.

Giordano, Al, Mexico’s presidential swindle, New Left Review, Vol. II, issue 41 (September/October), 2006, pp. 5-27

Analysis of fraud and manipulation of elections to favour the ruling candidate Felipe Calderon and account of opposition’s response.

Latin American Perspectives, Latin American Perspectives, no 2 (March), Vol. 33, 2006, pp. 144

This issue focuses on Mexican politics, society and economy and provides background to the 2006 protests. Articles include: Rus, Jan and Miguel Tinker Solas, ‘Introduction. Mexico 2006-2007: High stakes, daunting challenges’, pp. 5-15; Gilly, Adolfo, ‘One triangle, two campaigns’, pp. 78-83; Semo, Enrique, ‘What is left of the Mexican Left?’, pp. 84-89.

Ross, John, Mexican Civil Resistance in Five Acts, Counterpunch, 2006

Describes the protests in Mexico City against the presidential election results with focus on nature of the protests. The writer is author of: Ross, John , Zapatistas: Making Another World Possible: Chronicles of Resistance 2000-2006 Nation Books, , 2006, pp. 354 .

Rubio, Luis ; Davidow, Jeffrey, Mexico’s disputed election, Foreign Affairs, Vol. 85, issue 5 (September/October), 2006, pp. 75-85

Argues that the July election represented a choice between continuing economic liberalization and a return to the past, but neither provided a solution to Mexico’s problems.