David says VOCAL “stemmed from an APPO Statewide Assembly when it became evident that there were divergent perspectives with regard to the upcoming elections.” One side felt that the APPO movement “in all its plurality and diversity,” had purposefully excluded “political parties and any corrupt institution,” so getting involved with elections would “attack the unity constructed from diversity of thought and visions that exist within the movement.” The other side wanted to “act pragmatically and participate in the elections with our own candidates.” Those not wanting to participate in elections “that serve to legitimate repressive governments,” and who were distrustful of organizations that did, formed VOCAL. Consequently, VOCAL “turned into a diverse organization where a lot of anti-authoritarian visions and ways of thinking coexist—some rooted in indigenous tradition, like magonísmo, and some more connected to European ideologies. A lot of compañeros who have no particular ideological doctrine are also active in the organization…What we all have in common is our idea of autonomy as a founding principle. We defend the diverse ways of organizing of pueblos and the rights of people to self-govern in all realms of life…Unlike other hegemonic ideologies, we don’t believe that to promote our own line of thought it’s necessary to exclude anyone else’s.”
In April 2007, David was arrested, “with no arrest warrant or explanation. They drove me to an unknown place, where they planted drugs on me, then tried to force me to hold the drugs so that they could take photos. When I refused, they beat me…Finally they presented me with the arrest warrant that accused me of being involved in the social movement and the acts of November 25th. The warrant accused me of sedition, organized crime, and arson. Even as the government fabricated the idea of accusing me of drug possession in an attempt to criminalize and discredit me, they already intended to present the arrest warrant of a political nature once I was in jail.”
On March 5, 2008, after nearly a year in prison, David was released, after he was judged not-guilty by the court on all political charges. However, the CASA Collective’s website reports that since drug charges were still pending, “he was released on bail and forced to report to the court every week for over a year, severely limiting his ability to travel.” On April 21, 2009, Oaxacan judge Amado Chiñas Fuentes found him not guilty on “charges of possession with intent to distribute cocaine and heroin.” Following this verdict, David said, "This innocent verdict, far from demonstrating the health or rectitude of the Mexican legal system, was pulled off thanks to the strength of the popular movement and with the solidarity of compañeros and compañeras from Mexico and various parts of the world. The legal system in Mexico is corrupt to the core and is a despicable tool used by the authorities to subjugate and repress those who struggle for justice and freedom."
Oaxaca: Three Years Later
Three years since the Oaxaca uprising that was sparked by the June 14, 2006 police assault on the striking teachers, the issues behind the rebellion have not been resolved, Governor Ulises Ruiz Ortiz is still in office, and Oaxaca is still in the news. A 2007 article, The Lights of Xanica, reported on the continuing struggle of the Zapotec community of Santiago Xanica in the Sierra Sur of Oaxaca. In 2009, a controversial U.S. Military-funded mapping project in Oaxaca has met local resistance this year. In May, El Enemigo Común reported that State and Federal police forcibly evicted “community members who had been blocking the entrance to the mining project Cuzctalán in the municipality of San José del Progreso since March 16.” Recently, Narco News reported on heated negotiations between the government and Section 22 of the National Education Workers Union (initiators of the 2006 strike), as well as a robbery and murder committed by State Agency of Investigation agents at a bus terminal in Oaxaca City.
On June 8, 2009 The Committee in Defense of the Rights of the People (CODEP-APPO) reported the assassination of Sergio Martínez Vásquez, member of the State Council of CODEP, arguing that the “way in which it was done and due to some information gathered, everything points to the fact that the material actors of this assassination were paramilitary groups that Ulises Ruiz has operating in the region.”
On June 14, a march in Oaxaca City commemorated the three year anniversary of the 2006 uprising (read report in English or Spanish), and on June 17, a protest encampment in the Zocalo of Oaxaca City was attacked by paramilitaries (read report in English or Spanish).
The future in Oaxaca is unclear, but it is certain that the people will continue to resist, and international solidarity with help to strengthen the local resistance. Be sure and visit www.casacollective.org for the latest reports and opportunities for international solidarity.
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