We present here an article that appeared in Spanish on the website América Latina en Movimiento from Quito, Ecuador and was translated to English in condensed form by Zancudo. It analyzes the student uprising at the Universidad Iberoamericana, the large private Jesuit university for Mexico’s middle-class, in Mexico City on May 11 of this year that transformed into the YoSoy132 movement (M132). Taking inspiration from the Arab Spring and international Occupy Movements, M132 focuses its opposition on corporate / political control of the media and the president-elect of the Party of the Institutional Revolution (PRI), Enrique Peña Nieto. The young and dashing Peña Nieto and his wife, Angélica Rivera, are extremely useful façades for the Mexican political machine oiled by Mexican billionaires and corporate America. (Rivera is a high-profile soap opera star for Televisa, the huge TV network in México and that owns Univisión in the US. Though not mentioned in the article, Peña Nieto is known for the massacre at Atenco in the state of México during his governorship. (Read more about Atenco here and here.)
Zancudo does not agree with all stated in the article, but feels that it offers a sense of Mexico’s progressive landscape, a maturing approach to electoral politics, and the imperative to forge unity with the array of Left and progressive forces. The uncondensed article is available in Spanish here.
The emergence of the youth who have given life to the #YoSoy132 Movement (M132) shattered the electoral political arena built over the last six years. This arena included: the government of outgoing president of the National Action Party (PAN), Mexico’s oldest right-wing “opposition” party; Felipe Calderón and his allies in the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI), the Party of the Institutional Revolution which held power for 7 decades, longer than any party on the planet; the PVEM (Partido Verde Ecologista de México), allied with the PRI, PVEM is Mexico’s Green Party; the center-right Partido Nueva Alianza (PANAL), a creation of the SNTE (national teacher’s union) which traditionally has supported the PRI; the U.S. government and multinational companies, among which are the media powers Televisa and rival TV Azteca. According to the plan, the electoral dispute should occur between the main right-wing parties: the PAN and the PRI. The winning candidate would win by a wide margin of votes relegating the candidate of the electoral left progressive to a distant third, thus guaranteeing continuity of right structural reforms and re-legitimizing the old oligarchy, PRI-PAN, which never quite made the transition to democracy.
Though the election has given the prize to the PRI, the veneer of the political machine has been stripped naked by the youth of M132 who broke down the legitimacy of Peña Nieto’s victory and his justification of recolonization on behalf of free trade and rightist structural reforms that have been occurring for 30 years.
Without electoral legitimacy, the political crises arising from the fraudulent elections and “technical coups d’État” in 1988 and 2006 and the 1994 Zapatista rebellion could not be overcome. Without a convincing election victory, the undemocratic, anti-national, illegal and authoritarian features of the regime came to the fore with the consequent erosion of the state apparatus and media that supported it. Without the excuse of electoral legitimacy, it is impossible to continue concealing the old PRI-PAN oligarchic political system’s move toward implementation of a new civil-military dictatorship, typical of a criminal economy.
In the current system of neoliberal domination, state terror has become the hub of social control policies and territorial rehearsals under the guise of a war against crime. This war was formally declared by Vicente Fox, Felipe Calderon and George Bush in 2006. State power, armies and police coordinated with businesses and criminal gangs operating under the aegis of Mexican and U.S. authorities, i.e. the CIA, DEA and other (foreign) organizations.
In this war, which in México should be described as state terrorism, the media plays a commanding role that they did not have in the past, participating directly and systematically in the design of strategies to fight against those labeled “internal enemies”. It can be said that companies such as Televisa and Azteca, amongst others, operate as mercenaries in the pay of government, business and people like Peña Nieto. Owners and top level employees make up one side and share, in essence, the aims and ideology of the government and right wing parties who contract them unlike the “soldiers of fortune” who care only about the pay and not whether they share the interests or ideology of their employers.
News reporting and historical truth are abducted and moved to the battlefield where they are manipulated by the mainstream media. Journalists who dare to challenge this model are murdered, kidnapped, beaten, fired and threatened.. These acts are not accidental, but are part and parcel of terrorist operations against the “internal enemy,” lie to the general public, and shape the social construction of fear. For this reason, México is one of the most dangerous countries on the planet for journalists. The supposed neutrality or objectivity of news organizations is nonexistent.
After the mobilization of May 11 at the Universidad Iberoamericana and that of May 19 against Enrique Peña Nieto, the dispute was no longer between the PRI and PAN, but between Peña Nieto and Lopez Obrador (also known as AMLO, is former Mexico City mayor of the PRD (Party of the Democratic Revolution) and candidate for president for the Convergence Coalition led largely by the PRD in 2006 and 2012) and has become a contest between broad progressive sectors of society and the PRI candidate. Despite the power of the enemy, the awakened youth successfully challenged the right’s electoral coalition in 2012.
Since then there has been a change in the national political environment and the correlation of forces. This is something similar to events in various Latin American countries where recalcitrant neoliberals have been displaced from government by civil unrest, involving parties, movements and traditional leaders or institutions, together with so-called independent social and civil movements.
In México, perhaps more than in other Latin American country, you cannot beat the oligarchy and their parties with votes only. Peaceful civil uprising is an essential component for the success of a non-oligarchic electoral option.
Before the youth uprising, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, had little possibility to take on the PRI candidate. Thanks largely to the YoSoy132 movement, the platform built by the media and pollsters came down against the PRI candidate, putting a real damper on the multinationals and those who promote the escalation of reforms to consummate the looting of the country. The front line of Mexican politics, the private media, is now bruised.
In the new circumstances of collapse of the media conspiracy, Peña Nieto and the old PRI / PAN regime already lost the elections and the opportunity to re-legitimize the electoral system of domination. They have lost the means to justify the legitimacy and legality of an electoral victory in this new context. Once Peña Nieto’s virtual superiority has been knocked down, the general perception of public opinion, which until a few days depended on the media, is that the PRI can only succeed by fraud and imposition, by a coup less “technical” and more violent.
With the beast cornered, a blistering counteroffensive has been unleashed. As a new information blockade against all opposition movement, the use of violence and shock troops against those who dare to face Peña Nieto is increasingly common, as is the co-opting of PAN and groups formerly allied with the PRD. An example of media manipulation are attempts to hide the number of participants and biased information which presented the June 10 anti Peña Nieto march as a mobilization that recalled “only” the 1971 slaughter of (mainly) students.
But their tactics not only airbrush people and their movement, and demonize, beat, co-opt and divide them. In their offensive anything goes, anything can be exploited, particularly our weaknesses: our mistakes, our arrogance and intolerance of Javier Sicilia, Mexico’s well-known poet who’s son was murdered by soldiers in Cuernavaca after overhearing him make statements against the drug war. or even Obrador, to our anarchic and ultra-left posturing. Peña Nieto now most notably represents the party of war, violence and state terror; the living embodiment of the principal enemy: the oligarchy and U.S. and Spanish imperialism.
Can we defeat the upcoming imposition?
There is no place for illusions. “The masters of México” have lost a very important battle, but not the war. They have not accepted the possibility of electoral defeat. But if they are forced to recognize it, it will be to accept the lesser evil. They are accustomed to win, and when they lose, they resort to media terror. Nothing can exist unless it is appointed for them. But they also tune the entire machinery of electoral fraud: the buying of votes, the trucked in “masses”, ballot box stuffing, loss of voting centers, cyber cheating and widespread use of shock troops, both institutional and irregulars.
Although in this election the economic power of the Mexican oligarchy and foreign capital is not in question, nor are its many political prerogatives, their employment plans and taking of the country – which go hand in hand with projects to keep and raise their profits in the context of new national and planetary recession – may be seriously affected if they lose control of the government in a context of unmediated civil insurgency. This phenomenon is already occurring.
And not being fools, they invest a significant portion of their forces to isolate each of their enemies; to keep fighting on territory favorable for fraud and their rule.
First, they will lay siege against the more dynamic movement — the potentially less controllable YoSoy132. It is critical to them to keep it a purely student movement, to prevent its conversion into a popular movement in the Mexican People’s Assembly against fraud and the imposition of Peña Nieto. To achieve this will narrow the possibilities for Lopez Obrador. Second, pressure the movement led by Obrador to remain in the narrow electoral framework imposed by them, and also, as far as possible, rely on the foundation of the progressive coalition: PRD, PT, MC and MORENA is not more than theories and political practices where “the masses” only operate as a pressure force without direction, without their own political and programmatic autonomy.
We must be clear about the size of the strength we need to thwart fraud and imposition. The task is similar to that involved in the fall of a government, of a president. The size of the mobilization and integrity should be similar to those achieved in Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador and Bolivia. In México, the problem was not the size and number, but its leadership.
When asked if it is possible to defeat the imposition by peaceful means, despite and against the Mexican oligarchy, the imperial forces and the government, we must answer yes. It is feasible because it has been in other countries since 1979 up to today.
The option for change by peaceful civil resistance, is not to choose passivity, lack of strength, will and organization, the claim of one or a few, to decide unilaterally the type of peaceful actions to undertake. However, YoSoy132 is not about (unleashing) anarchic tendencies and ultra-leftism. In our circumstance, to face an experienced and unscrupulous, powerful enemy, the question of leadership is essential for bringing about peaceful change. Assemblies, democratic discussion, agreements and control of the representatives is essential if we are to combat and overcome provocations from within and without.
Without falling into conservatism, we must be aware of an enemy that responds to violence with violence. We must develop organization and unity, so that mass consciousness allows victory.
A spectrum of movements is responding to the present situation: the Movimiento Progresista, M132, SME (left independent electrical workers union), the Miners Union, CNTE (National Confederation of Public School Teachers). All see the rescue of the Nation as central to their agendas. This requires convergence on key points, though each clearly has its own particular agenda. Moreover, by their individual nature there could be several leaderships of civil and social movements and those affiliated with a Party. The key is the convergence and response to the call of all people. There is no place for factionalism or narrow politics.
The M132 is not an accident. It expresses the tendency of Mexican society to engage in civil uprising against national disaster. In this sense, more than any other movement, the M132 breaks with the defensive electoral voter inertia, and addresses in terms of political and ethical representation of the general or “common good” that has dominated the struggles of recent years. It therefore has the opportunity to assault heaven, which was lost to the Movement for Peace. If not the M132, there will be other movements and ways in which the accumulated history is revealed, because the Mexican people are not masochistic as some suppose, and they do not forget recent history.
Young people in movement reflect the accumulation of grievances, the state of permanent crisis of the Mexican economy, the disaster and national emergency and the social anger summed up in the proverbial “estamos hasta la madre” (“we’ve fucking had it”) of Sicilia. They embody the long walk of the struggles of the Mexican people for democracy, social justice and national sovereignty, which are, in our situation, the only means to fight for freedom or socialism for the majority. In particular, the M132 continues the democratic demands that were installed as a permanent record of national history from the late 50′s with the protests of railroad workers, teachers, telegraph and oil workers. M132 incorporates the legacy of peaceful and armed resistance, the popular and student movements of 1968 and 1971 amongst others.
Democracy and respect for the constitution, both formal and imagined, have driven the struggles of our people since those days, the most tangible evidence of the incompatibility of oligarchic domination based on monopoly capitalism, with the national and human aspirations of Mexican women and men.
The M132 are the assumed heirs of Magonismo-Villismo-Zapatismo and are moving forward with respect to all civil, social and political progressive, anti-oligarchic and traditional socialist movements. (Ricardo Flores Magón was a revolutionary anarchist and theorist for the Mexican Revolution, and was editor for the newspaper, Regeneración. His brothers Felipe and Jesús were activists also.)
Identifying with that tradition places them in the historic continuum whose roots preceded the progressive liberalism of Cardenas and Juarez. (Lázaro Cardenas, father of Cuauhtémoc, was president of México from 1934 to 1940. At fifteen years-old he fought in the 1910 revolution. In 1938 he nationalized Mexico’s oil wells and refineries. He is considered a hero of the poor and great democratic leader by progressives and revolutionaries around the world. (Benito Juarez was a Zapotec Indian from Oaxaca who became president in the early 1800s. He was a progressive democrat dedicated to equal rights for the indigenous and opposed organized religion. Notwithstanding his war against the Catholic church, he is still today considered Mexico’s greatest leader.) This movement of youth follows the egalitarian and community path represented by the indigenous rebellions of Hidalgo, Morelos and Guerrero. This is the path that, under present conditions, some would call post-capitalist. But they would ignore the radical currents of rebels who over 500 years ago fueled what we now call the history of México, the other México, of the supposedly forgotten. In short, they are in the camp of those who go to the root of the issues. It could hardly be otherwise as the dimension of the social catastrophe pushes the search for radical departures that without mass democratic participation will have little success. The current crisis is more severe than during the period of the movements for Independence, Reform and Revolution, and has no solution if we loosen the rope, unless we act creatively, if we are afraid to “invent.” The simple repetition of liberal or socialist recipes or Eurocentric “communist” dogma will lead us to a dead future.
To know what and who we are as a people is our starting point for the new awareness. For those always sacrificed first: Indians, mestizas/os, workers, youth and women – there is no other path to justice and innovation.
“Para todas/os todo, para nosotras/os nada”.
(“For all, everything. For us, nothing.”)
The M132 can be seen as part of the new wave of mobilizations throughout the world in response to the capitalist crisis, to capitalism’s wars and to despotic regimes. Call it a new historical movement against neoliberal capitalism.
Not surprisingly, the explosion of youth gives a glimpse of a maturity not seen in other movements. As features of this new reality, Twitter and other social networks are used in discussions and meetings, as well as in public demonstrations, where a new politics is reflected in slogans and peoples’ attitudes. In these situations, an anonymity serves to develop the self assessment of collectives and individuals.
The cyber community of the Internet that seemed to drown millions of young people in a social autism, is now linked to the assembly and the “face to face” meetings and street demonstrations. In that order-disorder, this new system of communication of intersubjectivities reveals new possibilities of consciousness, of a political literacy that Paulo Freire spoke of. In this system, the assembly is maintained as a reference center, is the space for deliberation and the intersection of all positions and passions.
The slogan everything for everyone and nothing for us of the Magonistas and Zapatistas is reborn not as doctrine but as the only possibility to overcome the historical crisis. It is a matter of survival, of ethical principles and transparency. Therefore, the principal enemy – personified by Peña Nieto – has become the central focus.
Despite the short journey of M132 and the hesitancy of its formulations, this new movement takes a conception of democracy articulated in the electoral struggle with the procedures and concepts of participatory democracy and what we now know as popular power. A strong sense of social justice, national sovereignty and the reconstruction of social and environmental balance have produced a new ethic. Opportunities have been presented for new solutions to the antagonistic contradictions of capitalism that threaten to destroy life on the planet.