Who Does Our Mexico Belong to?
La Jornada, 30th August, 2013
I write these lines with apprehension and fear: apprehension about the process of handing over national sovereignty to our powerful neighbouring nation that has been embarked upon by the government of Enrique Peña Nieto and his allies in the Pact for Mexico, which isn’t just a pact but an alliance with specific purposes. Fear, because that is the feeling that each and every Mexican now lives with regarding their immediate fate, every day, that of their families, their friends, their own person in this land which has been converted into a country without law, and therefore without justice and right, because of the solid alliance of interests between crime and the great national and international financial enterprises.
This is the context in which the reform of Articles 27 and 28 of the Constitution appear to hand over the subsurface rights and much of the land and natural resources of the nation to a single bidder, the United States.
Oil is a strategic resource, as defined until now by Article 28 of the Constitution. Strategy means “the direction and conduct of a war or wars.” There is no national sovereignty without strategy and without resources to support it and, they in turn, are to be protected by that strategy. To hand over the ownership and control of those resources to our neighbouring country, that means to its strategic needs, or its wars, is not a simple economic decision related to sovereignty. It is to render part of our territorial sovereignty (and sovereignty is territorial or it isn’t sovereignty) to the needs of that power and its multiple and endless wars: that of Iraq, that of Afghanistan, that of Libya; the imminent one of Syria. It is also a great power that has in this century been placed on the defensive in a world whose control is slipping out of its hands. But for now no equivalent power occupies the place it has lost.
This military power now controls with its drones, its espionage systems, its spies, its hired agents in our country, and its military and police officially installed in Mexico, whatever happens in this country’s territory and that of others which they are interested in. As for military, that is, strategic matters, Mexico is a territory that is already covered by the U.S. in its foolish but real military plans in response to the current state of affairs in the world.
The use in Mexico of the nation’s armed forces–army, navy, air, auxiliary bodies–for internal police tasks, which has been more and more the focus of recent governments, is an operation which, as we know, always destroys morale and an army’s reason for being. Latin America is littered with cases of this progressive corrosion, beginning with Guatemala and the coup against Jacobo Arbenz in 1954, sponsored by John Foster Dulles, to the extreme case of Argentina under Videla and Galtieri, generals who, through the internal war against their people, prepared the defeat in the Falkland Islands of an army with its morale shattered.
Zedillo’s betrayal in the negotiations with the EZLN [Zapatista Army of National Liberation] and the massacre of Acteal paved the way for the long business of wearing down the morale of the armed forces of the nation. So their job has been, and remains the police tasks of confronting the booming multinational drug industry and, worse still, indigenous and peasant movements, i.e., the oldest and most profound part of Mexico, according to the wise words of Guillermo Bonfil.
As the unprotected population increasingly organizes in self-defence against armed crime groups, the governments launch their armies and police to disarm these compatriots whom they don’t protect.
Hundreds of thousands of missing and murdered; whole territories where taxes are paid to the drug industry as “dues”; denial of justice of which the case of Alberto Patishtán is today’s national symbol and emblem; stripping union rights via union destruction (SME) or via corruption and charros [government controlled unions] (Pemex workers, SNTE; the list is long). Because of insecurity, the right to move freely about on the country’s roads dissolves; destruction of the nation’s railway system and part of its air fleet; delivery of banking to foreign capital and its domestic partners; complete freedom for Wal-Mart, Dragon Mart, Soriana and like to establish de facto monopolies over entire sectors of trade: this is the process of national disarray now intended to be culminated with the handing over of oil revenues to multinational capital and the needs of our powerful neighbour.
Needless to say that this issue opens wide the floodgates for penetration without barriers and with violence by those same private interests into the lands and lives of indigenous peoples and natural resources, and for the destruction of these peoples and their worlds of life through dams and canals and open pit mines, as happens today in Sonora, Chihuahua, Guerrero, Durango.
In this maelstrom of dispossession they are also hiding and preparing the assault against the EZLN in Chiapas, the Good Government Juntas, the Zapatista communities and the self-government of indigenous peoples of the region. If this has not yet been let loose, it is because these people are organized and alert and the “bad government”, as they call it, has more pressing issues and fears a chain reaction as there was before. But the threat is still being planned against those lands.
A principal part of this subordination of national sovereignty to the needs of our powerful neighbour is that the Mexican government has taken on the task of filtering Central and South American migrants headed towards the territory of the United States, instead of giving a temporary transit document to the undocumented, as had been decided in principle in 2011. Besides, it is the U.S. government that has to solve this problem, because the truth is that it needs the undocumented workforce, but without rights.
So Alejandro Solalinde, director of the shelter Brothers on the Road, accused the government on August 28th in La Jornada, on the occasion of the derailment of “The Beast” and its trail of dead, wounded and abandoned:
“The main responsibility of the Mexican state is to ensure the security and integrity of the people who pass through its territory, regardless of their immigration status, but obviously, they are still doing the work of containment, of maintaining a wall. The derailments are part of that, along with the kidnapping, extortions and raids.”
“But perhaps our Mexico doesn’t belong to us?”, so, in 1988, a farmer in Jalisco wondered in one of the countless letters sent to Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas during his presidential campaign.
A quarter of a century later, this unanswered question has been making us more anxious year after year.
Translation by Reed Brundage
*Adolfo Atilio Gilly Malvagni (born 1928, in Argentina), is the author of numerous books on the history and politics of Mexico and Latin America, and professor of History and Political Science in the School of Social and Political Sciences at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, where he has taught since 1979. His research focuses on globalization and the Zapatista movement.