Thousands join massive encampments stretching for seven miles
The massive turmoil which has shaken Mexico since Presidential elections were held on July 2nd has continued. By the narrowest of margins the right-wing candidate of PAN (Partido Accion Nacional) Felipe Calderón has claimed victory. Yet his “victory” was the product of massive electoral fraud which has provoked a massive wave of protest led by the radical populist candidate of the PRD (Partido Revolucionario Democratico) Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador, popularly known as AMLO. Over one million have participated in one protest against this stolen election. Thousands have joined in the massive encampments, stretching for more than seven miles, which have blocked Mexico City’s main thorough fares around the giant Zocalo square.
The National Congress is now ringed by two-meter tall grilled metal barriers behind which 3,000 vizored robocops have been deployed. Many participating in these events according to some reports are drawing parallells with the mood which existed in Mexico during September and October 1968. Then a massive student movement, inspired by events in France, was brutally repressed by the Gustavo Diaz Ordaz government. Over 300 students were gunned down by the military in the Plaza of Three Cultures. Despite beatings by the police and repression any such attempt to repeat the massacre of 1968 would provoke a massive explosion in Mexico and it is more likely the government will hold back from such brutal repression.
The instability in Mexico has already alarmed US imperialism. US Homeland Security is strenthening its forces around the town of Laredo in expectation of problems south of the border. There are also reports that US Navy Patrols were being dispatched to safeguard Mexican oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico.
After weeks of protests a new more radical turn is developing in PRD leadership reflecting the bitter anger of the masses who supported AMLO. “If there is no solution there will be revolution” is one of the most common chants taken up by PRD supporters in the mass protests. Others have no taken up the chant from the Spanish civil war, “No pasaran” – “They shall not pass”. In the context of Mexico they mean the reight-wing PAN will not be allowed to take the presidency.
At the same time there is confusion about the way forward, At the encampment some religious shrines and altars have been erected where people are praying for devine intervention. “God doesn’t belong to the PAN” is among the slogans raised by some at the protest.
The scale of the fraud continues to be exposed at each turn. According to ALMO’s campaign the sample recount revealed that in 3,500 polling stations 119,000 votes cannot be verified. 58,000 more votes were caste than on the electoral register. In 4,000 other polling stations 61,000 ballots allocated to election officials cannot be accounted for. These figures have emerged only from a partial recount rather than a full recount of all the votes being demanded by ALMO and his supporters.
There is a conspiracy of silence of this massive fraude. Compare the defening silence about these events with the way the so-called ‘Orange revolution’ was featured in the Ukrainian elections.
More far sighted representatives of capitalism, such as the Financial Times in Britain have urged a recount for fear that any new government of the right which is sworn inb will have no credibility. These more far sighted conclusions of representatives of the EU compared with the bellicose support of the PAN by Bush and the White House, reflect the fears of sections of international ruling class. Should Calderón assume the presidency on December 1st as timetabled his government will have no legitimacy. It is certain to come into collision with a new wave of struggles which began to unfold by miners, teachers, hospital workers and others in the run up to the election.
At the same time the Mexican ruling class also fear with equal reason, that should AMLO be accepted as president it will be the green light for workers, peasants and youth to move into action and demand massive reforms and concessions from the ruling class. Despite his radical populist attacks on the rich, corruption and US imperialism he has also pledged that he is willing to work with business and will only take measures against the corrupt. Yet a government led by him with a radical populist policy would also have international repercussion and come into conflict with US imperialism. One of his central demands in the election campaign was a renegotiation of the trade agreement FTAA with the USA.
Above all however both the Mexican ruling class and US imperialism fear that a PRD led government would open the floodgates to demands and struggles by the masses. A measure of the developing mass movement is in the state of Oaxaca where a massive strike movement of firstly teachers and now health workers has been taking place for over a month demanding the resignation of the state governor. There a state wide popular uprising is underway.
The mass pressure has compelled the electoral commission, TEPJP, to agree to a partial recount but not a full recount of all the votes as demanded by the opposition. In hundreds of ballot boxes more votes were counted than the numbers registered to vote. The TEPJP has to give its final verdict by September 6th.
In the light of the mass pressure AMLO has been compelled to move in a more radical direction. He has now spoken of building a more “permanent opposition” and threatened mass protests at every event attended by Calderón. “Now begins a new period in Mexico …with the sovereign power of the people we will undertake the changes and transformations that this country needs”. A further mass rally has been called for September 16 – the traditional day of official marches by the military to celebrate Mexico’s independence. The opposition has called for one million delegates to attend a Democratic Convention on this day. One option the leadership are discussing is the formation of a “government in resistance” that will launch a mass campaign of civil disobedience.
Major clashes with the police has taken place in Mexico City as the government attempted to repress some of the encampments set up by the PRD and its supporters. A major confrontation could easily still develop if Calderón is sworn in as president.
At the same time the more radical turn of AMLO is provoking some division in the radical capitalist nationalist PRD. Some more middle class elements are fearful things could get out of control and want a more moderate stance which in reality means accepting the stolen election result stands. According to some reports these developments have also begun to open a debate about forming a new left-wing party to replace the PRD which includes sections of the corrupt PRI bureaucrats which come over to the PRD.
However, the more radical declarations by AMLO are not enough to beat this fraud. He has spoken of a campaign lasting years to fight the result. The mobilisations already undertaken although welcome need to go much further with a clear strategy. Democratically elected committees need to be formed in all workplaces, universities, workers districts. These need to be linked up on a district, city-wide, state and national level. The massive protests of over one million which have already taken place during this battle indicate the support potential strength of the movement. A date should set not only for a national demonstration but the calling of a general strike to defeat this massive fraud.
This needs also to be linked to the steps for the workers and poor peasants from this movement begin to build a real party for the workers and peasants and all those exploited by capitalism and who wish to fight to overthrow capitalism and establish a workers and peasants government with a revolutionary socialist programme.
However, this election battle is resolved in the short term a new chapter has opened in the struggle of the Mexican masses. A new phase of struggle in Mexico, on the border with US imperialism is certain to major repercussion in the USA and also in the rest of Latin America. It is unfolding as Bush faces a crash in his support at home and with the massive mobilisation of the Hispanic population demanding their rights.
These developments in Mexico represent a further upsurge of the struggle against neo-liberalism that is taking place throughout Latin America and which poses the need for a revolutionary socialist programme, party and organisation to overthrow capitalism and establish a Democratic Socialist Federation of Latin America.