A Movement in Fragments: Oaxaca, Mexico 2006
In the early morning hours of June 14th, 2006, Oaxacan state and municipal police advanced upon the twenty-seventh annual teachers union plantón (encampment) in an attempted desalojo (eviction). The following events caught everyone by surprise as multitudes of Oaxacan civil society came forth in support of the striking teachers union, occupied the public buildings of the capital city, and transformed a labor issue into a broad-based, cross-class social movement.Behind the facade of social movement unity were political ideologies, contradictions, and organizations competing for power and voice within the movement. This project examines the growing body of literature on the 2006 movement, supplemented by participant interviews, to understand the inner workings of a diverse social movement. Drawing primarily upon social movement theory of Charles Tilly and Sidney Tarrow, I have sought to explain the nature of mobilization and duration of the 6-month long movement by disaggregating the movement into its component parts and examining the various strands of participation. I have found that the Oaxacan movement was far less unified than it appeared on the surface and that the various sectors of the movement had many more demands in mind than the overarching demand of the removal of the Oaxacan Governor. Finally, by understanding the workings of a Mexican social movement in this short twenty-first century, we are closer to understanding the democratic ideals that have fueled similar social movements in recent years. When looking at the Oaxacan movement's concrete demands to address the gap between democratic ideals and practice, we realize that Oaxaca is not so far from Egypt, from Tunisia, or from Wall Street.
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