|English | Español||February 20, 2018 | Issue #43|
The Coup d’Etat in Mexico
As a New Regime Prepares to Seize Control December 1, Promising a New Wave of Repression, the Antidote Is Being Born from Below
By Al Giordano
Photos: DR 2006, La Jornada
Not all the members of that esteemed lawmaking body are in agreement that Calderón was elected to the presidency last July 2. The facts strongly suggest otherwise. (See “Mexico’s Presidential Swindle,” New Left Review, September-October 2006.) About 150 legislators allied with the Democratic Revolution Party (PRD, in its Spanish initials) insist that the PRD candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador received the most votes and have vowed not to permit Calderón, of Fox’s National Action Party (PAN, in its Spanish initials) to be sworn in as president. Last September 1, on live national TV, the PRD legislators (amounting to almost one-third of the entire Congress) took the podium and prevented Fox from delivering his State of the Union address, in protest of the electoral fraud on behalf of Calderón. Thus, their vow to do it again on Friday is not an empty one, and it has the defenders of the election fraud on tenterhooks.
The PAN government has thus applied the same “solution” in Mexico City as it has in Oaxaca: On November 20, it sent in the federal police to surround the Congressional building and declare a kind of martial law in the surrounding neighborhoods. That was the day that López Obrador supporters converged on the city’s central square, known as the Zócalo, and presented him with the tri-color presidential sash. Fearing that the mass of people would then take the Congressional building various miles away (a fear that did not materialize), Fox sent in the riot cops to protect the building. But as the photo reveals, the solution had no impact. The Congress itself is at Civil War.
Photo: The Hon. Violeta Lagunes of Mexico’s House of Representatives, hard at work.
The Fox-Calderón transition teams have worked hard to recruit heads of state from other nations to attend Friday’s ascension in their efforts to place a sheen of legitimacy on the regime shift. Among those expected: George Herbert Walker Bush, former US president and father of the current occupant of the White House, to represent the neighboring regime to the North. History repeats itself: It was Bush, Sr., who, as Vice President of the US in 1988, officially congratulated Carlos Salinas de Gortari as the new president of Mexico after what serious historians now agree was a monumental electoral fraud.
But today, Mexico’s Secretary of State Luis Ernesto Derbez worried aloud that the ongoing brawl for control of the Congressional podium might scare some away. “It is going to be very shameful and disgraceful for our country,” he said, “if we have chiefs of state of the quality of former president George Bush, Sr., observing below, on the podium, a spectacle worthy of a second-rate country.”
As the legislators in suits and ties continue fighting over the podium, Calderón vows that hell or high water he will go to that hall and collect his trophy – six years at the helm of Mexico – on Friday. Meanwhile, his rival López Obrador has called his supporters to the Zócalo at 7 a.m. Friday morning and Fox is reduced again to his legacy as the “Dial 911 President,” calling in the cops. It is not clear what, if anything, López Obrador and his allies plan to do on Friday. In the months since July’s fraudulent election, he has talked big but pulled back from marching his troops into confrontation, even when he counted with millions, indignant and by his side. Either he will surprise on Friday or December 1 could mark the collapse of the electoral path to change in Mexico.
Today marks the final stretch in the eleven-month marathon that has been the Zapatista Other Campaign’s listening tour of all of Mexico. Insurgent Subcomandante Marcos, who has visited every corner of the country since January 1, taking notes of the testimony of “the simple and humble people who fight,” will make one more stop in the rural Huasteca region of the state of San Luis Potosí and soon head back to Chiapas to inform his indigenous comandantes of his findings. December will be dedicated to meetings between Other Campaign adherents to determine the next steps of what is now a truly nationwide effort to topple not just an illegitimate government but also “the capitalist system” that it serves. At the end of the year, December 30, the Zapatistas will receive delegates from throughout the world for an international gathering in the autonomous municipal seat of Oventik, Chiapas.
DR 2006, Narco News
Much of the work of this international newspaper over the past year has been documenting and reporting these stories, and translating them into other languages, to break that information blockade. The logic of the Other Campaign is that if so many are having their basic rights denied, suffering the blows of a dictatorial regime alone, each in their forgotten corner, then the time has come for Mutual Aid so that, if good people must be beaten, imprisoned and assassinated, then it makes infinitely more sense to confront the regime together.
Thus, for example, when on Monday it was learned that the Oaxaca 141 had been flown clandestinely to an isolated prison in Nayarit, Other Campaign adherents in Oaxaca, among them from the Other Journalism, now knew their counterparts in Nayarit and in the nearby metropolis of Guadalajara, Jalisco, on a first name basis. Between compañeros, phone calls, text messages and emails went out. And the adherents in that region have begun organizing support and noise-making actions so that these 141 political prisoners do not disappear into Fox’s Guantanamo, forgotten and invisible. It also means that the efforts they undertake there will be reported back to Oaxaca, to the nation and to the world in many of its languages. In sum, although not one of the Oaxaca 141 in Nayarit has been heard from, they are already speaking and defying the government and media blackout on their existence and the repression against them. As a result of the Zapatista Other Campaign, the distance between Oaxaca and a prison in Nayarit has grown much shorter than Fox, Calderón, or their security apparatus capos presumed.
This, down below, is not the second-rate country of clowns in suits punching each other out in the halls of Congress or of elections authorities that preside over falsifying the results. It is the first-rate country of the dignified Mexico that the outgoing viceroy, Fox, and the new viceroy, Calderón, attempt to snuff out in Oaxaca and elsewhere: a nation of people who work hard, raise their families, and endure police batons, teargas, bullets, prison, torture and death each time they express a desire for a better life.
Calderón sent a very clear signal that, in terms of state violence and repression, Mexico probably hasn’t seen anything yet, not even during the dirty war of the 60s and 70s, compared to what is to come, when he named, this week, Jalisco Governor Francisco Ramírez Acuña to the powerful post of Interior Minister to essentially run the government. Ramírez Acuña is widely perceived as an authoritarian hardliner who imprisons dissidents – as he did time and time again in Jalisco – for sport. That’s one philosophy of statecraft when a governor has a reputation for allowing narco-traffickers and other violent criminals safe haven in his state: create a distraction by rounding up protesters, while gloating with slogans about how “the law will be enforced.”
Ramírez Acuña has told reporters that the matter of Oaxaca will be first on his agenda when he takes the steering wheel of the federal government. It is also an open question as to what changes in policy are in store regarding the Zapatista autonomous communities in Chiapas and the amnesty law for the leadership of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN, in its Spanish initials) that Fox respected, more or less, during his six years in office. The disgrace of Fox’s final year as president, including but not limited to the violent police actions in Atenco and Oaxaca, means that a man that began his presidency pardoning indigenous political prisoners leaves having put many more times that number – hundreds of Mexican dissidents, a disproportionate number of them indigenous – in prison, usually on trumped up charges, as punishment for their exercise of free speech. It is entirely possible that, regarding Oaxaca, he already ceded control of federal policy and techniques of repression to Calderón and Ramírez Acuña.
Whether by commission or omission, Vicente Fox Queseda, who wanted so much to be known as a statesman that ended 70 years of single party dictatorship, leaves with a legacy as having been just one more bumbling repressor and looter in a long list of them. Calderón and his team, on the other hand, begin with no such transcendent illusions. They are the proud architects and heirs of the 21st Century Coup d’Etat, and payday comes on Friday.
First they will promote fear and terror, to try to silence the clamor and protest from below. That’s not going to have the desired effect. The level of indignant desire to do away with the long line of repressive regimes, as witnessed in every state and region along the 2006 Other Campaign trail, has only been inflamed by the ongoing events in Oaxaca and elsewhere. It is also an open secret that the 2006 election was stolen. Not even those that claim it was fair really believe it. There are certainly enough prisons and graveyards in Mexico to fill with thousands more for the crime of speaking and organizing for a better life. And there are police and soldiers galore, plus paramilitaries, to do the dirty work. But there are still not enough to hold back the critical mass of millions that do not recognize their legitimacy. History marches in the direction of a confrontation between those who impose from above and those below who, now recognizing that everyone else like them is in the same horrible situation, have constructed the “other” organization of horizontal communication and Mutual Aid.
The new regime is going to come in, most likely, with nightsticks and guns blazing. Not all of us are going to survive it. But the day is coming when millions will stand up, all at once, and overpower the powerful who have created two opponents for every one they have jailed, three for each they have killed. And from this small corner, that of an observer with a laptop, come what may, it has been the greatest privilege of this life to listen, learn, document and report over so many years from the first-rate country that is the Mexico from below. It has shown all of us, in every corner of the earth, a new way to fight. You won’t read it in the Commercial Media and there will likely be moments to come when they succeed in peddling the myth that all hope is lost, but the following conclusion is evident to anyone that has really been listening to the sound from below: The coup d’etat is here, but it will not stand.
- The Fund for Authentic Journalism