Hope from the margins – By Gustavo Esteva

These notes offer a quick glance to ways, in the south of Mexico, in which people are regenerating the society from the bottom up. It is a new kind of revolution without leaders or vanguards, which goes beyond development and globalization. It is about displacing the economy from the center of social life, reclaiming a communal way of being, encouraging radical pluralism, and advancing towards real democracy.

the oaxaca commune

From June to October 2006, there were no police in the city of Oaxaca (population 600,000), not even to direct traffic. The governor and his functionaries met secretly in hotels or private homes; none of them dared to show up at their offices. The Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO) had posted 24-hour guards in all the public buildings, radio and TV stations. When the governor launched nocturnal attacks against these guards, the people responded by putting up barricades.

Some observers began speaking of the Oaxaca Commune, evoking the Paris Commune of 1871. The analogy is pertinent but exaggerated, except for the reaction these two popular insurrections elicited in the centers of power. Like the European armies that crushed the communards, the Federal Police of Mexico, backed by the army and the navy, conducted a terrible repression on November 25, 2006. They could not use the ways of the 19th century, but they inflicted a massive violation of human rights using an approach that can legitimately be described as state terrorism.

 

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