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Mosquitocloud.net Mexican Spring

Mosquitocloud.net Mexican Spring

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Published by: Hopeful Monsters on Mar 26, 2013
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http://mosquitocloud.net/mexican-springAugust 9, 2012
A student-led movement is achieving the impossible.
YoSoy132: Student-led Uprising in Mexico – An interview with Patrick Cuninghame (Professor, MexicoCity) Adbusters
, 15 Jun 2012
Patrick: It’s kind of a weird movement, because it started in the private universities, in a very upper classCatholic private university calledIberoamericana. It’s probably one of the more progressive private universities,because it has a quite independent and active faculty trade union. It arose in response toEnrique PeñaNietowho is the PRI candidate for president.The PRI (Partido Revolucionario Institucional)was in power  continuously from 1929 to 2000, one of the world’s longest running dictatorships, guilty of incredible abuses of human rights. The most infamous one was the massacre of Tlatelolco on October 2nd, 1968, just before theOlympics, when the Mexican army and paramilitaries killed around 500 people in a square near the center of Mexico City. It’s never been properly investigated. The ex-Mexican president,Luis Echevarriawho was the minister of Internal Affairs when that happened, was briefly arrested and chargedwith genocide in 2006, but wasalmost immediately released. In spite of all their crimes, they’re on the point of being re-elected after just 12years out of power. It’s like fascism coming back. The problem is that the party that’s been in power,the PAN(Partido Acción Nacional), has been as bad if not worse than the PRI. So, it’s just gone from the frying pan tothe fire and back to the frying pan again. 60,000 have died in these last 6 years of President Calderon from the‘war against drugs,’ which in reality has been a war against the whole population, at the same time a new form of governance and a new theatre in the “global war against terrorism”. It’s been government through militarydictatorship that we’ve had in Mexico since 2006, and the electoral fraud in 2006, too, that started it. Of coursethere’s a real danger of another electoral fraud. Until May 11th it seemed like Enrique Peña Nieto was going towin the elections easily. There had already been one or two setbacks for him. First, at the GuadalajaraInternational Book Fair in December last year, he was asked what were the three most important books in hislife, and he couldn’t name one. He is just such a complete airhead, an ignoramus. This is the guy who’s goingto be the next president of Mexico!So, that was a setback for him in terms of public relations, but nothing like what happened at the Iberoamericanaon May 11th, when he went to visit it. He probably expected to get just a really easy ride, because nothing muchhas happened at the university in years. When he arrived, there were hundreds of students with banners thatsaid things like “Remember Atenco”—which is this town near Mexico City, where when he was governor of theState of Mexico (the state surrounding Mexico City), there was a really vicious repression of the People’s Frontfor the Defense of the Land (FPDT in Spanish), on the 3rd of May 2006, duringtheZapatistas’ Other  Campaign. He and then president Fox sent the army and police in and they just massacred the population. They wanted revenge for the defeat of their plans by the FPDT to build a new international airport near Atencoin 2002. I’d never seen such vicious repression—groups of 20-30 police attacking anybody, innocentbystanders. They killed two youths: a UNAM student and a local youth. Houses were raided without searchwarrants and about two hundred people were just dragged off the streets and taken to prison, and during thebus journey to prison about 30 women were raped or sexually abused by the police in the busses or whilegetting on or off the busses.[i]It was the rape of Atenco by this butcher. And Enrique Peña Nieto is going to bethe next president. Fortunately, these guys (the students at the Iberoamericana) woke up and gave him a really,really hard time. In fact, at one point he was about to abandon his visit, because he was being harassed somuch by the students. There’s this beautifulvideoof him and his bodyguards and the authorities of theuniversity just not knowing what the hell to do—there’s this expression of panic on his face, just completely takenby surprise. Even when he had the meeting, most of the questions were really hostile against him. Under hisgovernorship, the state of Mexico went completely backwards: the number of poor people increased, humanrights abuses increased, femicides increased, and so on. He had no answer. Well, for a man who literallydepends on the teleprompter for what to say, he had just nothing to say. He just didn’t answer the questions. Itwas just a complete public relations disaster for him.But, what happened was, that he has been supported by the two main TV channels, Televisa and TV Azteca,which dominate open TV in Mexico (the free TV), with their telenovelas, these ridiculous soap operas, whichdominate coverage—12 hours a day of soaps—a complete manipulation and infantilization of the public. He istheir candidate and they’re determined that he’s going to be elected.It also appears the PRI paid huge amountsof money since 2005 to guarantee positive coverage and promote Peña Nieto as a future presidential
candidate.So, when that visit to Iberoamericana was televised on the news, they completely edited out all of thedemonstrations. It was just incredible. If you compare what happened with what was presented on TV, it’s justtwo different worlds. And then the various media spokespersons—the president of the PRI, the intellectualsclose to the PRI and Televisa—they all attacked the students, saying that they were just members of the PRD,the opposing party of the PRI, the party of the center left, very moderate (López Obredor , who might win theelections). They were saying, ‘these weren’t really students. These were people belonging to the PRD who weresent to the Iberoamericana that day. They’re thugs’—the most ridiculous accusations. If these intellectuals, thespokespersons of the PRI, hadn’t made these really crass accusations, the thing would have died there. But,fortunately, the students had the bullocks to respond. And about 131 of them went online, on YouTube, withtheir student cards, and said, ‘I am a student of this university, this is my student credential, and how dare thePRI accuse us of not being students.’Our demonstration was completely genuine. That’s what’s called the‘Somos Mas de 131′ movement that came out of Iberamericana, on Monday the 14th of May, after thisdemonstration on the 11th of May. And then, it’s just grown from there.Of course Televisa was saying it wasn’t an ‘authentic demonstration.’ So, they had a human chain from their university to the head office of Televisa in that part of Mexico City. Just a few hundred turned up from variousprivate universities. The next step was to connect with the public universities. The first really big event was onWednesday, 23rd May: there was a big demonstration in the center of Mexico City, under this monument thatwas supposed to be opened in 2010, on the 100th anniversary of the Mexican Revolution. But because of corruption and various delays it didn’t actually open until earlier this year. It’s called the Estela de Luz (ThePillar of Light). It’s a big tower that is completely ugly and useless and cost far too much. So, they chose thismonument as a meeting place, as an example of the kind of corruption, impunity and ineptitude that they areopposing. They called a general meeting of students from private and public universities to go to that place.Far more people went than they expected—I think about 20,000 students, young people, and ordinary citizensturned up. And that’s really how theYo Soy 132movement took off.Since then, just about every day there’s been some kind of public meeting somewhere. All the meetings arecompletely open to anybody to attend, and in open places outside. Since Wednesday, the 20th of May, justabout every single university in the country, certainly all in Mexico City, has set up its own branch of thismovement. It’s all being coordinated on the website of #yosoy132. It’s a kind of social network. In myuniversity, the UAM Xochimilco (the Metropolitan Autonomous University), which is historically a left-wing publicuniversity (Subcomandante Marcos was an Arts & Design Lecturer there until he went underground in 1983),last Friday, May 25th, about 100 students turned up—about half student activists and half students who wereust curious. Most of my students in the University come from working class, lower-middle class backgrounds—very different from Iberoamericana, which is upper class. It’s amazing that this thing started there; even uppeclass kids are pissed off at the situation in Mexico, even though the economy is run entirely for their benefit.Still, they’re sick of the corruption and media manipulation. So, this is what kick-started it all off. The studentsthere thought, ‘this movement has to become much bigger than us, much bigger than the private universities.’The majority of students are in public universities, and of course the social composition of the public universitiesis completely different.
CW: Could ou sa a little
Student Demo – May 28th – [pic via Vertigo Politico]
 more about thecomposition of thismovement? Have any faculty gotten involved in it or is it totally student-led?
Patrick: At the moment itis student-led, and I hopeit remains that way,because the worst thingthat could happen is for the usual intellectuals totake it over. When theyhad this big meeting in thecenter of town—at themonument to celebratethe 100th anniversary of independence but whicheverybody sees as amonument to corruption—there were a lot of university professors andintellectuals and ex-activist, ‘leaders’ from the1968 movement (they’reall obsessed with being‘leaders’ of that movement, which is completely different from this movement—and student movements aroundthe world—they’re leaderless). Everybody’s realizing that it’s a special movement. 2006 was a bit like now, areally euphoric moment.I am in the Other Campaign of the EZLN. We oppose the campaign of López Obredor, because we know that heis really a politician of the center right, a neoliberal “progressive” like Lula in Brazil or the Kirchners in Argentina,but he is able to present himself as being of the center left because the other two parties are of the hardneoliberal, neo-con right (The PRI and the PAN). He likes to make a lot of promises about how he’s going tochange Mexico, but when he was mayor of Mexico City he adopted ‘zero tolerance’ to repress street vendorsand he gentrified the historical center of Mexico City in alliance with the richest man in Mexico, Carlos Slim, so weknow that not much is going to change under him, at least not for the better. But still, in 2006 we thought, ‘he’sbound to win,’ because he seemed by far the most popular candidate. We never thought that there was goingto be an electoral fraud. But there was, and Calderon became president. The first thing he did was to start thiswar against the ‘narcos,’ which was in reality a war against working class Mexicans. It’s been downhill since then:it’s been massacre after massacre. The left has just been kind of paralyzed in front of this war, this massacrethat’s been going on continuously. So it’s been a really depressing time, these last six years. And also, theelectoral campaign has been completely boring, virtually without content, and then, suddenly, this studentmovement came out of nowhere. We didn’t expect it.Certainly, we are in front of a completely new situation. There was a meeting on May 25th in the Plaza de LasTres Culturas (exactly where the massacre took place in 1968), of delegates from all the universities and theyhave madea declaration of what their aims are now as a movement.Of course it’s quite moderate, if youcompare it to the Montreal or Chilean students movements. Their main demand continues to be thedemocratization of the media. But if we really had a democratized media in Mexico, that would be incredible. If you democratized the media anywhere, that would be incredible! There is of course a certain amount of naivetyto think that the Mexican media—which is completely under the control of the worst kind of neoliberalism and of the mafia and the drug cartels—is suddenly going to become democratic; it’s just not going to happen. Nor did ithappen in the US or Britain or any other so called democracy. The media is not free or neutral in any country inthe world, especially not during elections. It’s a naive demand, but in some ways it has opened up the wholeelection by exposing the dependence of the political class, particularly their candidate Peña Nieto, on massmedia manipulation. I would say that as things stand at the moment, Peña Nieto is in trouble. Everywhere hegoes now there are thousands of people opposing him, chanting slogans at him, with placards, etc. A week ago,the PRI responded as they always do: with violence. They just send their thugs to attack students who areopposing any meeting of Peña Nieto. Now, that rebounded against them, because it’s bad publicity—using

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