We publish this interview with Mexican workers in struggle which was conducted by members of the CWI in Latin America for our Spanish web page mundosocialista.net. We are sure that this interview will be of interest to our readers, but it does not necessarily fully reflect the ideas and programme of the CWI.
Socialist World (SW): Could you introduce your organisation to our readers?
LVR: The Independent and Democratic Union Coalition (COSID) is today a small organisation of the masses that has won the respect of a sector of union activists because of the seriousness of our work. In our daily interventions, we try to use the scientific method. Dialectical materialism allows us to explain the process of change not only on a global scale, but also in our country, to understand where we come from, where we are, and where we are headed. We are part of the resistance of the social movements of urban and rural workers who refuse to allow the victories we inherited from our grandfathers to be stolen from us. We are descendents of the rural and urban workers, who in 1910, tired of the misery which their families lived in, utilized the extreme measure of armed violence and began the Mexican revolution which generated a social reorganization that reduced the extreme misery caused by the capitalists and large-landowners.
As a result of the revolution, our grandfathers passed down to us the basic rights which are written in the Constitution. It is this inheritance from our grandfathers which the gang of capitalists, starved for power and wealth, want to rob from us through the coalition of five neoliberal parties led by the PAN and others such as the PRI-PVEM-PANAL-PSD) which is badly governing México by calling for structural reforms, which in reality are the orders of the IMF and the World Bank.
SW: What is the current political and social situation in México?
LVR: Neoliberalism promotes, throughout the entire world, a new distribution of the social wealth in favor of the capitalists. Mexico is no exception. For that reason they are compelled to eliminate constitutional rights, labor rights, privatize social security, raise taxes and impose new “voluntary” contributions on workers to cover education and health services, public works, etc. The neo-liberal gang in government uses tax money on programmess that only benefit the bosses, stripping the subsidies to workers so that the wealth-starved rich don’t have to pay taxes for workers’ benefits. They want to change the laws in order to legalize the privatization of our energy sources, amongst them oil and gas. We could list a series of assaults just like this.
The neoliberals and their politicians (PAN-PRI-PVEM-PANAL-PSD) at the beginning took us by surprise when they modified basic judicial and constitutional frameworks, eliminating rights which had long been taken for granted like agrarian subsidies, provoking a massive wave of rural migrants chasing the “gringo dream”, which today has been transformed into a nightmare due to the economic crisis which has hardly begun.
SW: Does this mean that the workers have been defeated?
LVR: No, the struggle has just begun. We are part of the resistance. We are the product of the determined decision of the urban and rural workers to defend our inheritance. The brutal political offensive reinforced by the demagogy of almost the entire mass media (t.v., radio, the press) confused us at the beginning. The absence of a party that genuinely represents workers prevented an immediate reaction.
But the social discontent grew and the rejection was promoted by the actions of many politicians and leaders of the PRD (Party of the Democratic Revolution), which is a multi-class party. Its [presidential] candidate, López Obrador, won the confidence of our worker brothers who voted for him. Obrador won the election but was the victim of a scandalous electoral fraud and stripped of his legitimate victory.
The Obradorista movement is key and has stimulated and reinforced the resistance. Without being radical, it has made things uncomfortable for the neoliberal gang and held them in check because millions of citizens and workers responding to their calls. The honourable position of Obrador also upsets the right-wing of the PRD which controls the majority of the party apparatus. This right-wing has already made pacts with the neoliberal gang to exclude Obradorism from the PRD.
SW: What kind of relationship does LVR have with Obradoristas?
LVR: As an individual, Obrador has won the respect of our worker brothers. He is the undisputed leader of a powerful movement and he has declared himself to be in favor of the worker resistance. Many of our worker brothers participate in their mobilizations, which we view as correct, although we have differences when it comes to method.
SW: Then is the LVR in the PRD?
LVR: No, we are not in the PRD. The new distribution of the social wealth has obligated not just urban and rural workers to organize, but wide sectors of the so-called middle class and intellectuals, who organize different movements. What we call the resistance is a very wide movement of which Obrador is one of the undisputed leaders, but the resistance is much bigger than Obradorismo.
Neither the LVR nor its associated organizations like the CTyOD-ISSSTE-COSID, are organizations with party affiliation, but we are also not “ultras” or anti-party sectarians. We invite our worker brothers to participate in the mobilizations of the general resistance movement and we promote a unified front; and we consider it a grave mistake to place conditions on our participation in the actions of the general resistance movement.
SW: How has the financial and economic crisis which began in the U.S. impacted Mexico?
LVR: It is just beginning and unemployment is growing, salaries are shrinking, the bosses are blackmailing and imposing production stoppages which mean working half days for half pay. The cost of living is growing, and the slow return of hundreds of thousands of migrant workers, for whom the “gringo dream” (the hope of a better life in the USA – editors) was transformed each day into a nightmare, has begun.
SW: What is the current situation of the Mexican working class?
LVR: For decades, urban and rural workers endured the corporate control of the PRI governments. The peasants in the CNC, the workers with their “cowbody” leaders and the treasonous leaders of the CTM, FSTSE, SNTE, etc.
Today, for wage workers, the neoliberals are imposing a new form of control, they are converting the “cowboy” leaders into executives. Today, they bring them onto the directive boards of the pension and housing funds, Pemex (the state oil company), etc.
SW: Could you give us an example of the how the neoliberals control the unions?
LVR: There are many examples: Elba Ether Gordillo, known as “mom of Chucky” (the diabolical doll). Accused of murder by the teachers, repudiated by the majority of workers, she is propped up illegally by the neoliberal government at the SNTE, a union of more than one million education workers. She controls at will the union dues which are estimated to be worth more than a billion pesos ($100 million dollars) each year. And even though she’s the leader of the teachers’ union, her son-in-law is the sub-secretary of education, in other words, a representative of the bosses. She was awarded the registry of a political party (PANAL), and a number of her underlings occupy key posts in the government (ISSSTE, national lottery, etc) And today, with the social security reforms (ISSSTE), the leaders of the largest unions are executives of the pension program (Pensiónssste) and the housing fund with salaries in the millions. Another example is the “cowboys” of the oil union who hold positions in the new Pemex administration, and of course have millionaire salaries.
SW: Does this mean the unions are defeated?
LVR: Yes, it’s a defeat, but of the corporate unions, which may well be the majority which is in retreat but it’s not the entire organized working class. In politics there are no positions left unfilled. While the control of the union “cowboys” recedes and is substituted by a new “white” syndicalism, union resistance grows and strengthens at a combined and uneven pace. We are part of this active resistance. Together with the independent and democratic unions, emerging mass movements appear, like the ResISSSTE from Chihuahua, the ResISSSTE from Baja California Norte. Strikes or boycotts have exploded in Morelos, Guerrero, Campeche, etc.
The resistance of the millions who are tired of the lies, the corruption, frauds, exploitation, and misery grows and we’ve decided to stop the capitalists and like our grandfathers, propose a new social reorganization.
SW: What are the perspectives for the worker and socialist movement in Mexico?
LVR: The neoliberal gangs attack rural and urban workers to impose a new distribution of the wealth. The economic crisis increases the problems and the social discontent. For that reason, the political organization of the working class is so urgently necessary. A unified front built by the grass roots is also urgently necessary. The diverse organizations and political tendencies are being forced to prove themselves in action. The patient but determined work of the resistance movement will be decisive and will determine the final result. The objective conditions exist, the method is there, only the objective factor is lacking.
SW: What do you guys propose to workers?
LVR: In 1910, our grandfathers had more than enough decisiveness, but they ultimately conformed to guarantees for basic legal rights. Today, time has taught us that it’s not enough to reorganize society and guarantee our rights through the law. We should completely reorganize society and prepare our worker brothers to rescue our country. Substitute the bosses’ government that exists today and protects the neoliberal gang with a government of rural and urban workers, a government for workers, the only guarantee that there will be no turning back. We should construct a society where there is no greater privilege than to work, one of greater wealth and a solid culture. In LVR, we have complete confidence that the human being will overcome capitalist individualism, we are confident that we will defeat obscene dog-eat-dog individualism. Science tells us this, the evolution continues and nothing stops it, the homosapien will impose the definitive victory of the common good and of social justice.
SW: Where can we find more information about the struggle of the LVR, and the advances and setbacks of the Mexican resistance?
LVR: We invite everybody to visit our website, www.lavozdelaresistencia.org, and to send us information about the resistance in other countries.