“Those that underestimate the popular opposition don’t know what they are talking about”
By Luis Hernández Navarro
September 7, 2006
A profound political crisis is shaking up the country. The rules that regulate the balance of power between elites have been violated. From above, there is no agreement or any possibility for one in the short term. The occupation of the lectern of the Palace of San Lázaro (the Chamber of Deputies, lower house of the Mexican Congress) by legislators from the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD in its Spanish initials) and the Labor Party (PT) in order to prevent President Fox from giving his speech this September 1 is one example.
A severe crisis in the model of control pierces the relationships of domination in large regions of the Mexican national territory. People accustomed to obeying have refused to do so. People that think they are destined to rule have been unable to impose their command. Those from below have become disobedient. When those on the top want to impose their opinion from above, in the name of the law, they are ignored from below. This can be seen with Oaxaca, Chiapas, the miners of Lázaro Cárdenas, and the peasants of Atenco.
The political crisis and the crisis in the model of control have joined hands. Taking advantage of this fight on the top, millions of people from below have shown their insubordination. They are not ready to accept any more impositions. So they slip through the gaps that are left open by the dispute up above.
The country does not fit into the political regime. All the organizations that regulate the struggle for power, its exercise, and its values have been kidnapped by the powers that be. They have taken these organizations hostage. People that demand that the PRD choose between the rule of law and social mobilization are behaving like a thief who, upon being discovered, yells, “stop, thief!” They have been the first to impose extrajudicial force upon these institutions. What else could this be if not the famous Chapultepec Pact of Carlos Slim?
Upon becoming the President of the Republic in 2000, Vicente Fox had the opportunity to undertake a profound reform of the state that would transform the old regime that society had clearly grown tired of by that time. He decided not to do so, instead taking advantage of the tools that allowed him discretionary use of presidential power.
These were the tools that were used to intervene in the electoral process in favor of Felipe Calderón Hinojosa, the candidate of the National Action Party (PAN). These tools were the instruments that the businessmen organized in the Corporate Coordinating Council (CCE), that the oligarchy of the electronic media, corrupt union leaders like Elba Esther Gordillo, sectors of the Catholic Church hierarchy, and front groups of the Mexican far right used to participate illegally and illegitimately in the July 2 election on behalf of Calderón.
People that try to make a scandal of the plantón [encampment of Lopez Obrador supporters] on Reforma Avenue and of the occupation of the lectern at the Chamber of Deputies are the same people blocking the political representation of more than 15 million Mexicans who voted in the ballot boxes and of many millions more who did not vote because they have seen that any participation that is not subordinated to institutional politics has always been blocked off. It is they who obstruct the access of millions of Mexicans to the world of political affairs. It is they who have kidnapped the federal government, using its programs for partisan purposes. It is they who have prevented voices against the imposition [of Calderón as president] from being heard in the electronic media.
In order to recover the institutions of political representation, there is no viable option besides confronting and corralling these powers with social mobilization. There is no other course of action than to drain the powerful of their authority by putting up blockades against its exercise. There is no other way forward than to prove, step by step, the illegitimacy of those that have assumed for themselves the power of governing.
In this way, the actions such as the blockades of the streets or of the legislative stage that have been carried out by mobilized citizens are a response to the blockades of information and of political representation carried out from above. They are a response to a previous obstruction.
Blockades have been an effective weapon of struggle in a wide range of Latin American countries. Confronted by the limitations of traditional forms of protest, such as the general strike, in countries where the informal economy has grown so large that formal employment is the exception, blockades permit the multitude to create political pressure. Their implementation impedes the movement of products and of the labor force. This causes loses for the business world. The Argentine piqueteros have successfully put blockades into practice. The Bolivian gas and water revolutions made them a central part of the strategy against the privatization of natural resources. Why should Mexico be an exception?
The political crisis shaking this country will have an unfavorable resolution for the people if they withdraw to their homes or to the institutions. Now more than ever it is necessary to take to the streets in order to confront and corral the powers that be. Those that underestimate the popular opposition don’t know what they are talking about. And if they don’t know, let them take a walk through Oaxaca so they can have an idea of what awaits us.
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