Feliz Cinco de Mayo!
Cinco de Mayo -- May 5th -- marks the date in 1862 when the Mexican troops under General Ignacio Zaragoza defeated the French troops in the Battle of Puebla. (Despite this initial victory, the Mexican troops went on to lose the war; Mexico was placed under the occupation of Maximilian 1, Emperor of Mexico. Four years later, the French occupation forces were expelled from Mexico by the Reform government of Benito Juarez, who had Maximilian executed just outside Querétaro.)
This year, Cinco de Mayo takes place in Mexico in a situation of profound political and economic crisis.
La Jornada today published an article detailing the disastrous effects 14 years of NAFTA have had on Mexican agriculture. Top economists at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) report that Mexico is paying US$20 billion per year to import grain and basic food staples -- mainly from the United States -- that were produced in Mexico prior to NAFTA. Not only is the bleeding the Mexican economy, the economists explain, it is forcing millions of peasants to leave their farms. It is also imposing near-famine conditions in certain regions of Mexico. The destruction of millions of acres of corn, rice and other grains is the direct result of NAFTA, as these native crops are not able compete on the market with the genetically modified and high-tech-production grains brought in from the United States. (1)
This report in La Jornada exposes the criminal lie presented by the Usurper ("El Espurio"), Felipe Calderón, in New Orleans, when he told the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) Summit meeting that Mexico under NAFTA is making "great progress" on the economic front, modernizing its productive capacities and improving its ability to feed its people. (At the SPP Summit in New Orleans, Calderón also lambasted the takeover of the Mexican Congress buildings by the opposition congresspersons in the Broad Progressive Front (FAP), stating that it made "Mexico look ridiculous in the eyes of the world." Calderón also accused the legitimately elected president of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, of "taking his power trip to a new level, thereby endangering the security and stability of our country.")
Last Thursday, May Day was celebrated in Mexico with a number of mass labor rallies and marches. The largest rally, spearheaded by the Mexican Electrical Workers Union (SME), the Mineworkers' Union and the National Union of Workers (UNT), witnessed speaker after speaker denounce the proposed "Energy Reform" packet submitted to the Mexican Congress on April 8 by Felipe Calderón. "The Mexican workers will not allow these reforms to go through," said Martin Esparza, general secretary of the SME. "If we allow these energy 'reform' measures to be passed, they will immediately move to 'reform' our labor laws. Calderón and his ilk have stated as much. This would destroy our collective-bargaining agreements, our unions, and our workforce."
Also on May Day, Andrés Manuel López Obrador answered publicly the widely circulated charges leveled by PRD founder Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas against him and against the Peaceful Civil Resistance Movement. One day earlier, Cárdenas had denounced the takeover by the FAP deputies and senators of the Mexican Congress buildings, calling it an "unnecessary and irresponsible" action that endangered the legitimacy of Mexico's political institutions. (Cárdenas has sided in the fierce internal struggle within the Revolutionary Democratic Party (PRD), the party of López Obrador, with the wing that has recognized the election of Felipe Calderón and that has voted to support the "reform" measures demanded by Calderón and Bush.)
López Obrador's reply to Cárdenas was respectful in tone but unyielding in content. "How can anyone think that Calderón was not aiming at ramming his reforms through this session of Congress?" he asked. "That was Calderón's stated goal, his mission. ... We must remember that Calderón was imposed in the presidency by the influence-peddlers, both domestic and foreign, whose aim has been to turn over to foreign oil interests the exploration, perforation, refining, petrochemical production, oilducts, transportation and storage of Mexico's oil resources. ... We will not allow Calderón and the foreign oil corporations to do this!"
López Obrador continued, answering the charge by Calderón in New Orleans that López Obrador and this Resistance Movement are opposed to progress and modernization in Mexico. "This claim is absurd," he stated. "On the contrary. We believe Mexico can make great progress. We believe we have the engineering and technical expertise in Mexico to modernize our equipment and drilling in our oil industry. But what we oppose are so-called 'reforms' that only benefit a handful of people in Mexico who are beholden to foreign interests."
López Obrador concluded his statement explaining that "before any country-selling energy 'reform' is enacted, he and the Peaceful Civil Resistance Movement will insist that the people of Mexico are allowed to express their point of view through a referendum or a plebiscite -- so that no decision is made behind their backs." He went on to urge the Mexican people to join the Brigades and Committees being formed across Mexico to defend Mexico's oil and sovereignty.
To be continued. ...
(1) In their speeches on May Day in San Francisco, both Cynthia McKinney, presidential candidate of the Power to the People coalition, and Cindy Sheehan, independent candidate for U.S. Congress (challenging House Speaker Nancy Pelosi), called for repealing NAFTA, explaining that this agreement is responsible for the destruction of jobs and communities and both sides of the border. Their call must be taken up by working people and the trade union movement across the United States.