APPO Goes National and Transnational

There is an interesting article in the Monterrey, Mex, newspaper El Provenir regarding the proliferation of Oaxaca-style popular assemblies to other states and cities in Mexico, and even to the U.S. and Canada (thanks to Nancy Davies on the NarcoNews Bulletin for this link).

As Calderon makes noise about reaching out to other political actors in Mexico, this development suggests trouble ahead. The only formal political actors who want to play nice with Calderon are those from the PRI, and as a PAN-PRI alliance emerges the hopes for political reform become dim. As in Oaxaca where the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO) is demanding the resignation of the state governor, many of these new assemblies are protesting the actions of political officials from the PRI. Calderon is not going to kick out PRI governors, even if the result might be that the PAN gets the office in a new election, because he needs the PRI to pass laws and maintain some semblence of legitimacy at a national level.

Meanwhile, migrants from Oaxaca to the US and Canada are going to Mexican Consulates to register their demands for a political solution back home. And they are deeply involved with local–i.e., U.S.–human rights struggles. So we can expect a different political dynamic emerging in U.S. cities, one that may surprise labor unions and traditional political leaders who are used to top-down “get out the vote” style politics.

The APPO style of protest moves below the normal political channels. It is willing to tactically support mainstream political actors, but it tries very hard (and in Oaxaca, succeeds) to maintain independent goals and modes of internal communication and decision-making.

We saw some of this in the May Day rallies, which some Democrats hoped to use to pressure Congress to pass immigration reform legislation. In Chicago, the movement was led by “hometown societies” of migrants from Michouacan, some of whom were rank-and-file activists in SEIU and other unions. Ultimately, these rank-and-file leaders more or less forced the unions to support the march, and made sure that their support did not translate into a take-over.

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2 Responses to APPO Goes National and Transnational

  1. Tim says:

    Great post. I think APPO style protests could have some success here – so long as they remain peaceful: Americans don’t like broken glass and such. I’m all for movements that will help democratize unions here in the U.S. I could even see my working-class, Midwestern mom getting enthusiastic for this style of protest. Unfortunately she’s also vehemently FOR immigration restriction. – Tim

  2. Toby Higbie says:

    Welcome, Tim! If APPO and others are successful, ultimately that will cut down on migration making mothers everywhere happier.

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