December 2014        

Mexicans fight dollar imperialism

Bernard Murphy

The forty-three students “disappeared” by the municipal police of the city of Iguala in Mexico on 26 September 2014 are still missing. As the state wants to end popular reaction to their disappearance, their families and fellow-students vow to continue searching until they find the forty-three alive. However, it is feared that they were murdered by the police, or their accomplices in the drug gangs, and their bodies burned to avoid discovery.
     This suspicion is heightened by the fact that some of the disappeared have family links with Guerreros Unidos (united fighters), an armed civilian body formed to resist oppression by the increasingly powerful drug gangs. These often operate now as paramilitary units, in cahoots with local authorities, to enforce control of a restive population on the point of insurrection.
     As this tragedy dominates headlines and politics in Mexico, the federal government quietly privatised the country’s state-owned oil company, Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex), allowing it to enter joint ventures with private companies. Thus the multi-millionaire Enrique Peña Nieto, elected president in 2012, ended the Pemex monopoly over the country’s massive oil and gas reserves.
     Referred to as North America’s last energy frontier, Mexico expects to attract more than $50 billion in new private and foreign investment by 2018. Beginning in May 2015, Pemex will be able to develop 169 exploration and extraction blocks, covering a total of 28,500 square kilometres (11,000 square miles), on its own or in cahoots with oil giants such as Chevron and British Petroleum (famous for their generosity with bribes).
     The area assigned to Pemex equals 20.6 billion barrels of proven and probable oil reserves, with additional prospective resources totalling a 22.1 billion barrels equivalent, covering 90,000 square kilometres (35,000 square miles).
     Ordinary Mexicans are furious at the impending despoliation of their major natural resource by Peña Nieto’s rapacious neo-con clique, who have already enriched themselves at the expense of Mexico’s working people from participation in the North American Free Trade Agreement. This came into force on 1 January 1994, linking the country’s poorly developed economy to those of the highly developed North American powers, with disastrous consequences for its workers.
     Within six years of entering into the agreement Mexico’s establishment trumpeted that neo-liberal American and Canadian investment in the country had passed from $4.4 million to $11.8 million, that industrial employment had passed from 546,433 to 1.24 million, and that the value of exports to the United States rocketed from $49.4 million in 1994 to $135.9 million by 2000.
     What was not trumpeted was the other side of this “bonanza,” reflecting the toxicity of neo-liberal economic prescriptions. While the “in” crowd enriched themselves conspicuously, the value of the minimum wage and manufacturing wages over the period 1993–2001 dropped by 18 and 21 per cent, respectively. Most of this employment was created in the “free trade” zones, where various North American corporations set up tax-dodging scams. Within only four years of NAFTA entering into operation, the proportion of Mexicans living in poverty passed from 21 per cent to a resounding 51 per cent.
     Meanwhile, under NAFTA, massive imports of cheap grain from the United States destroyed a rural economy based on subsistence farming, accelerating the exodus of 2.7 million ruined farmers to swell the burgeoning ranks of city slum-dwellers, or to the huge industrial farms of northern Mexico, or to end up as cheap American agricultural labour. Many who remained depend on the cultivation of marijuana, for export to the massive American drug market, illegal until recently. This activity led to the growth of ruthless armed drugs gangs, who make mega-profits from the purchase, export and sale of the drug as well as from the illegal traffic of emigrants to the United States.
     Its listless efforts to suppress these criminal organisations having failed, the neo-con elite saw the advantage of co-opting them as paramilitaries for suppressing the widespread civil unrest and, increasingly, the armed resistance of a population incensed at the scale of the neo-liberal rip-off and oppression by police and drug gangs.
     Neo-liberal collusion with criminals will not surprise those who are aware of the use by the US government of armed Nazi elements in Ukraine to overthrow the democratic though corrupt Yanukovich government, and then to get these thugs to participate in its successor, the even more corrupt US-backed puppet regime.
     A common thread runs through the bloody chaos in Ukraine, Mexico, and elsewhere: neo-liberal regimes will not hesitate to use criminal elements and methods to impose or forcibly maintain their predatory anti-social agenda.
     The lesson: the development of universally participative democracy that exerts its control over all public services and national resources is the only antidote to regimes like that of Mexico or wherever else US or European imperialism attempts to plant the neo-liberal flag.
     “A United States of Europe is possible as an agreement between the European capitalists . . . but to what end? Only for the purpose of jointly suppressing socialism in Europe.”—V. I. Lenin, 1915 (Collected Works, vol. 21, p. 341).

Home page  >  Socialist Voice  >  December 2014  >  Mexicans fight dollar imperialism
Baile  >  Socialist Voice  >  Nollaig 2014  >  Mexicans fight dollar imperialism