7.17.2006

Vote or no vote, Mexicans are fighting back

By Dante Strobino
Mexico City


While the contested presidential election in Mexico remains the focus of intense struggle, accumulated social conflicts continue to go unresolved.

The teachers’ union in Oaxaca, along with hundreds of thousands of supporters, continues to fight back.

Flower merchants and supporters in Atenco who refuse to leave their market so Wal-Mart can build a store there are raped, killed and imprisoned.

Some 65 miners in the Pasta coal mines of Conchos, Coahuila, are killed due to unsafe conditions ignored by Secretary of Labor Francisco Salazar. Workers in Sonora shut down the nation’s largest copper mines. And workers at the Villacero steel plant, Latin America’s largest steel bar manufacturer, continue their four-month strike.

Although the votes were cast on July 2, as of July 10 there was still no clear winner in the presidential race. The Federal Electoral Institute’s (IFE) official count on July 6 gave right-wing National Action Party (PAN) candidate Felipe Calderón a 0.57 percent lead over the left-leaning advocate of the poor, Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador. This razor-thin margin is being contested by López Obrador.

There is a long history of fraud in Mexi can elections. While usually perpetrated by the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), it is now the PAN that has stacked the IFE in its favor. IFE President Luis Carlos Ugalde has admitted that 2.6 million votes were not included in the preliminary count because of “inconsistencies.”

The people are very conscious of all this and are taking things into their own hands in some locations. Teachers in Oaxaca claimed fraud on election day and detained an election official in his hotel. (La Jornada, July 3) Others in Atenco burnt their election cards and party propaganda to protest the election.

Who are López Obrador & the PRD?

López Obrador, if elected, would be a progressive step forward for Mexico, but it remains to be seen if he will be more in line with Brazil’s President Lula Da Silva and Chile’s Michelle Bachelet or with the policies and practices of Venezuela’s Presi dent Hugo Chávez and Bolivia’s Evo Morales.

Running as a candidate of the Alliance for the Good of All, a coalition that includes the PRD, the Workers Party and Con ver gence, López Obrador is willing to work with the left. When he was chair of the PRD, most of the 26 members of his cabinet had, at some time in the past, been members of either Trotskyist, Maoist or other Marxist, left-wing parties. As mayor of Mexico City, his cabinet was composed of 50 percent women. He promises to do the same if elected president. The PRD was the first party ever to have a woman elected mayor.

At López Obrador’s final campaign rally in Mexico City’s historic town square, the Zócalo, over 150,000 people tightly packed the streets. The working-class character of his party was obvious as peasants, national unions, Indigenous and youth gathered around to listen. Cald erón’s rally, by contrast, was held in the expensive Azteca Stadium and attracted middle- and ruling-class Mexicans.

This truly was a class vote.

Let the people decide

Five days before the election, the National Coordinator of Educational Workers (CNTE), Local 22, of Oaxaca met with union officials to hand in 150,000 signatures demanding cost-of-living salary adjustments and the resignation of notorious PRI Gov. Ulises Ruiz Ortiz. Upon leaving the meeting, the CNTE marched through the streets of downtown Mexico City with thousands of supporters.

The next day, Local 22 initiated a nationwide general strike with the support of several other major unions. The strike was called off, however, in order not to disrupt the elections, and instead the fourth mega-march in four weeks occurred. “The government is doing everything they can to repress our strength at this important moment for the bourgeois parties, but we refuse to be quieted and continue to organize around our demands,” a teacher in Local 22 told Workers World.

Two days before the election, the Zapatistas held the Third National Assem bly for adherents of the “Other Campaign.” About 1,200 people gathered from all over the country. Subcommander Marcos said little but served as emcee as students, Indigenous, women, workers, migrants, sex workers, self-identified queers, lesbians, transgender people, and representatives from the U.S. made suggestions about the movement’s direction after the election. Many emphasized the struggle to free some 30 political prisoners from Atenco being held in Santiaguito Prison and La Palma Maximum Security Unit. Suppor ters have maintained a demonstration outside the prison since their incarceration on May 4.

On election day, instead of waiting in the voting lines, the Zapatistas continued with their “Other Campaign.” Over 60,000 supporters marched through downtown Mexico City voicing their opposition and chanting “Assassins! Rapists!” at the cops who ringed the city’s monuments.

None of the presidential candidates “offer a just or urgent solution for the liberation of our 30 detained comrades from Atenco, San Salvador,” an indigenous Zapatista woman from Chiapas told Workers World, “For this, the choice is not between voting and not voting, our only option is to organize from the ground up and to the left.”

The people are in the streets protesting election fraud in several locations, particularly in Guanajuata, Queretaro and Tabasco. López Obrador on July 10, in a mass rally organized to defend the vote, called for the people to march from all over the country into Mexico City to hold on-going protests and demand a recount.

Earlier, he had employed similar tactics when the right tried to use a technicality to prevent him from becoming a candidate for president. The presence of over 2 million people in the streets threatened the big bankers’ stability and López Obrador eventually beat back this political challenge.

At press time 3 million people from all over Mexico are heading to the capital city for a rally on July 16 in solidarity with the PRD

4 Comments:

Blogger Fred Bergen said...

The PRD is a capitalist party. How can FIST support a party that, when in power, kills striking miners with state police it commands?

7:15 PM  
Blogger dante said...

The PRD is composed of many elements, some of which are revolutionary and socialist while others are more reactionary. It is a struggle inside the party which reflects the conditions of Mexico, especially its proximity to the US. At the moment, no thoroughly revolutionary party is in a position to wield power. the PRD is the closest there is in Mexico, I give my support for those genuinely socialist forces in the party in hopes they overcome.

10:57 PM  
Blogger Fred Bergen said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

2:46 PM  
Blogger Fred Bergen said...

How do you expect the "genuinely socialist forces in the [PRD]" to "overcome" the fact that the PRD is a capitalist party that, when push comes to shove (such as at the miners' strike in Sicartsa) defends capitalist property? Assuming this "overcoming" were possible, it would require mobilizing the masses of workers and poor peasants who have illusions in AMLO and the PRD to throw out the capitalist leaders and adopt a socialist political program. But how do you propose to do this while at the same time supporting the PRD?

You say that "the PRD is the closest there is in Mexico [to a revolutionary party]" and this is why you support it. See, this is the problem, not the solution. If we ignore, for the sake of argument, that there are socialists in Mexico who are struggling to build a revolutionary workers party, then why is the PRD the "lesser evil"? Is it because of the "conditions of Mexico"? The objective conditions could not be more ripe for socialist revolution. We are seeing before our very eyes how bourgeois "democracy" has exhausted all its possibilities in Mexico without protecting a single democratic right of the workers and oppressed. The democratic revolution and the emancipation from imperialism can only be accomplished by clearing the capitalist state out of the way with a socialist revolution. AMLO's proposed reforms will never succeed. It is the subjective conditions that must be prepared, which requires a party that will patiently and truthfully explain to the workers who their real friends and enemies are, and build the confidence of the workers in their own organizations and methods of struggle. This requires breaking with the bourgeois parties and forging a revolutionary workers' party, and lesser-evilism is an obstacle to this necessary task.

Trotsky's summation of the experience of the Spanish revolution, which proved to be tragically correct, still stands as the best guide to the unfolding events in Mexico, where opportunists like the WWP and its allies seek to gain influence for themselves by hopping on the PRD's bourgeois bandwagon.

(begin quote) The theoreticians of the Popular Front do not essentially go beyond the first rule of arithmetic, that is, addition: “Communists” plus Socialists plus Anarchists plus liberals add up to a total which is greater than their respective isolated numbers. Such is all their wisdom. However, arithmetic alone does not suffice here. One needs as well at least mechanics. The law of the parallelogram of forces applies to politics as well. In such a parallelogram, we know that the resultant is shorter, the more component forces diverge from each other. When political allies tend to pull in opposite directions, the resultant prove equal to zero.

A bloc of divergent political groups of the working class is sometimes completely indispensable for the solution of common practical problems. In certain historical circumstances, such a bloc is capable of attracting the oppressed petty-bourgeois masses whose interests are close to the interests of the proletariat. The joint force of such a bloc can prove far stronger than the sum of the forces of each of its component parts. On the contrary, the political alliance between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, whose interests on basic questions in the present epoch diverge at an angle of 180 degrees, as a general rule is capable only of paralyzing the revolutionary force of the proletariat.

Civil war, in which the force of naked coercion is hardly effective, demands of its participants the spirit of supreme self-abnegation. The workers and peasants can assure victory only if they wage a struggle for their own emancipation. Under these conditions, to subordinate the proletariat to the leadership of the bourgeoisie means beforehand to assure defeat in the civil war.

These simple truths are least of all the products of pure theoretical analysis. On the contrary, they represent the unassailable deduction from the entire experience if history, beginning at least with 1848. The modern history of bourgeois society is filled with all sorts of Popular Fronts, i.e. the most diverse political combinations for the deception of the toilers. The Spanish experience is only a new and tragic link in this chain of crimes and betrayals.

Alliance with the bourgeoisie’s shadow
Politically most striking is the fact that the Spanish Popular Front lacked in reality even a parallelogram of forces. The bourgeoisie’s place was occupied by its shadow. Through the medium of the Stalinists, Socialists, and Anarchists, the Spanish bourgeoisie subordinated the proletariat to itself without even bothering to participate in the Popular Front. The overwhelming majority of the exploiters of all political shades openly went over to the camp of Franco. Without any theory of ’permanent revolution,” the Spanish bourgeoisie understood from the outset that the revolutionary mass movement, no matter how it starts, is directed against private ownership of land and the means of production, and that it is utterly impossible to cope with this movement by democratic measures.

That is why only insignificant debris from the possessing classes remained in the republican camp: Messrs. Azana, Companys, and the like- political attorneys of the bourgeoisie but not the bourgeoisie itself. Having staked everything on a military dictatorship, the possessing classes were able, at the same time, to make use of the political representatives of yesterdays in order to paralyze, disorganize, and afterward strangle the socialist movement of the masses in “republican” territory.

Without in the slightest degree representing the Spanish bourgeoisie, the left republicans still less represented the workers and peasants. They represented no one but themselves. Thanks, however, to their allies—the Socialists, Stalinists, and Anarchists—these political phantoms played decisive role in the revolution. How? Very simply. By incarnating the principles of the “democratic revolution,” that is, the inviolability of private property. (end quote)

(From The Lessons of Spain: the Last Warning, Leon Trotsky, 1938)

2:58 PM  

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