MEXICO JULY 1 ELECTIONS: Organize to Defend the Will of the People and Impose Democracy

(Editorial of the June 2018 issue of Transición newspaper, published by CORCI-México; an abridged version of this Editorial is published in the June 2018 issue of The Organizer newspaper.)

After the second presidential debate [on May 20 in Tijuana], it is clear that Andrés Manuel López Obrador (or AMLO, as he is commonly known) will receive the overwhelming vote of the Mexican workers and people. According to the polls, the massive AMLO vote is also likely to be transferred to Congress, where it is estimated that his coalition “Together We Will Make History” will obtain between 236 and 298 of the 500 contested Assembly seats, and between 51 and 128 of the contested Senate seats.

A massive vote that says, “Enough is Enough!”

 This massive support for AMLO reflects the people’s anger and despair after more than 30 years of policies that have handed over the nation’s wealth and resources to a handful of billionaires and transnational corporations. These have been decades of wage cuts, unemployment, and loss of labor and social rights. They have been decades during which the country has been dislocated and torn apart by the so-called “war on drugs,” which has only fueled more violence and militarization, and more killings of women and disappearances.

AMLO and mics

Andrés Manuel López Obrador addresses journalists.

The massive support for AMLO is a plebiscite against the corruption, grotesque opulence, and influence peddling that the politicians of the PRI, PAN and PRD have displayed over the past six years.

Many mainstream politicians and Big Business groups have read the writing on the wall; they have understood where the vote is going and have joined Morena, AMLO’s political organization, in their quest to retain their posts and privileges, in keeping with the maxim, “join the movement for change to ensure that nothing changes.”

There have been many complaints from political activists about how these people, some of whom are tied to the powerful “mafia elites,” have taken over a number of Morena’s slates, opportunistically riding the coattails of AMLO’s immense electoral support.

AMLO himself has changed his discourse and political platform with the intention of appearing as a “moderate” and as the “responsible” candidate, thus seeking to capture a wider number of votes from the “middle class” and “centrist” voters, so that no pretext can be found to tamper with the election and so that his expected victory is not overturned this coming July 1st.

An aspiration to change that is in contradiction with AMLO’s program 

What is at the heart of the massive support for López Obrador is a will for change that is in open contradiction with the electoral program put forward by AMLO and Morena in this 2018 campaign. AMLO’s program today is far different from the one he put forward in 2006 and 2012, when he called to defend Mexico’s national oil corporation — with the slogan, “Pemex is not for sale, Pemex must be defended!” — and when he called to defend the public-power utilities, public education, and public health services —in short, when he called to resist the wholesale imperialist assault on Mexico’s national sovereignty.

AMLO’s “moderate” 2018 program was written by Alfonso Romo, former advisor to past right-wing Mexican presidents Carlos Salinas de Gortari of the PRI and Vicente Fox of the PAN. It is a program that accepts the framework of the privatizing “reforms” imposed over the past six years by current President Enrique Peña Nieto.

AMLO’s new governmental program — with its pledge to maintain an austerity budget — is unacceptable to the masses, which is why his campaign has focused on assistance programs and the fight against corruption.

The most heartfelt demands of Mexico’s working people — demands that he has championed over decades — have remained on the sidelines of this campaign. But this has not deterred his supporters from insisting at AMLO campaign rallies that the people’s demands must be met. Millions are hoping that López Obrador will be elected so that their pressing issues can finally be addressed.

Under such pressure, AMLO promised the teachers and their unions (SNTE and CNTE) that he would delay the education “reform.” But his pledge was far from convincing. He said that some aspects of the “reform” would be reviewed and that punitive teacher assessments would be cancelled, but he took care not to promise the repeal of the “reform” as a whole.

At every campaign stop, it seems, the AMLO campaign organizers have been compelled to “explain” the public statements of their presidential candidate (or of other members and candidates of Morena) to “reassure” the business community. This happened with Paco Ignacio Taibo II, a leading Morena campaign organizer, who said that a future government headed by AMLO would have to expropriate the corporate elite who blackmailed AMLO. This statement was immediately refuted and denounced by Marcelo Ebrad, the main coordinator of the AMLO presidential campaign.

But what Taibo said was true: We cannot advance toward the Fourth Transformation of the Republic promised by AMLO (the others were Independence [1810], the Reform [1854-1876] and the Revolution [1910-1921]) without affecting the interests of those who hold power and control the economy, without breaking with the dictates of the international financial organizations and repealing NAFTA. Such dictates subordinate the nation to the interests of imperialism. We cannot recover our sovereignty without re-nationalizing all that has been privatized. What is required is a radical program that breaks with imperialism and that is embraced and supported by the working class majority and all the oppressed in the cities and countryside.

A crisis of domination at the top

The Mexican oligarchy and its parties understand the stakes of this election, and they are worried that an AMLO presidency might not be able to contain the swelling anger from below. This is why they are launching once again a dirty war campaign against AMLO. They know that an AMLO victory would not just be an electoral victory; it would be a call from the dispossessed to reverse the corporate-led “structural reforms” and dismantle the institutions of the ruling class. They know that an AMLO victory would allow the masses to feel their strength and weight in society.

Fue el estado

“The State Is Responsible” for the 43 deaths in Ayotzinapa.

Faced with the impending scenario of a triumph of López Obrador, the main corporate groups have proposed an anti-AMLO unity pact — where one of the two right-wing candidates would step down in favor of the other to allow AMLO to face off against a unified candidate of the right. But this “useful vote,” as they call it, has not yet materialized, and may not materialize, due to the strong divisions within the ruling bloc.

There is a crisis in the summits of political power, which is expressed in the sharp dispute between the PRI and its candidate Meade (who is the favorite of the bankers and international organizations), on the one hand, and Ricardo Anaya of the PAN, on the other. Both the PRI and the PAN call for upholding the authoritarian and corporatist regime that denies democracy in our country. Both have benefited from the fire-sale of our resources and have supported the vile implementation of Washington’s directives.

But they each know that whoever steps down in the name of the “useful vote” will be annihilated electorally and, therefore, will be at a disadvantage in the distribution of the spoils and in any future negotiations with imperialism.

At the same time, they understand that orchestrating what would have to be a monumental fraud (given AMLO’s commanding lead in the polls) would likely provoke an even greater reaction from the masses than occurred in 2006 [when millions upon millions took to the streets and occupied the nation’s capital for four months – Tr. Note] — but they are not yet ruling out this plan, either. As often happens in times of crises, the capitalist class is more than willing to tear down the republican institutions and annul elections if their class interests are affected in any fundamental way.

Faced with the possibility of massive fraud, the Mexican people — who had already been victimized by stolen elections in 1988, 2006, and 2012 — have begun to organize to defend the ballot. In the absence of a call from the Morena leadership to prepare for yet another stolen election — as the top Morena officials still appear to have faith in the country’s electoral institutions — hundreds of calls been issued through the social networks to guard the polling stations and defend the vote by forming vote-defense committees or brigades.

The lack of an independent political expression of the working class

The effort by the country’s oligarchy to not let AMLO through the door puts the workers and the population before an uncertain scenario. On the one hand, the masses will vote for AMLO to drive out the mafia and put an end to the structural reforms, corruption and looting, but, on the other hand, the political alliances and program of López Obrador do not offer any real transformation.

The authoritarian and corporatist regime has already denied the possibility of other voices being heard in this electoral process, as was the case with the independent candidacy launched by indigenous sectors and social organizations of María de Jesús “Marichuy” Patricio, who presented a platform that expressed the legitimate aspirations of the indigenous peoples and embraced demands from various sectors. It is a fact that in this electoral process there is no clear platform for the defense of workers’ and peoples’ rights and sovereignty.

These contradictions make evident the lack of a political expression of the workers of the countryside and the city — of the youth and women — that genuinely expresses the interests of the exploited, that helps to coordinate and unify the struggles of the exploited, and that is not afraid to express what is really needed and organize toward this goal.

We, the militants of the OCRFI in Mexico, consider that it is more urgent than ever to build the political instruments needed for the working class to be the protagonist of change.

It is necessary to build an independent working class political force. That is why we are part of the Political Organization of the People and the Workers (OPT) that was born in response to the call by the Mexican Electrical Workers Union (SME) in its resistance struggle against the dismantling of the Compañía de Luz y Fuerza del Centro. The OPT, we believe, is the embryo of a workers’ party. It is also why we are active builders of the Nueva Central de Trabajadores (New Workers Central), which we hope will become a mass, independent, and class-struggle trade union federation.

At its last national meeting, the OPT adopted a party-building plan and called upon all its members and supporters to prevent the PRI and the PAN from remaining in power. In this context, the militants of the CORCI — on equal footing with other activists, trade unionists, and students — issued an Open Letter to Andrés Manuel López Obrador [reprinted in the May 2018 issue of The Organizer] in which we put forward the need for the workers to organize themselves and fight for their own demands.

Carta a AMLOThe Open Letter calls upon AMLO to carry out the Fourth Transformation of the Republic by means of a political break with the “mafia elite” and its political institutions through a call to convene a Constituent Congress to reclaim democracy and give voice to the people and their demands.

The Open Letter is a call for working people and the oppressed to organize in their own name, regardless of whether they vote or don’t vote in these elections. It is a call to defend the will of the people and their aspiration for profound change. It is a call to defend democracy, which requires the direct participation of the people in the decision-making process so that the corporate-driven “reforms” can be reversed and so that our sovereignty and our rights can be reclaimed.

We, as Trotskyist militants of CORCI-México, are ready to join forces in struggle with all those who agree with these points. We cannot remain passive at this juncture; we are struggling side by side with the working masses in their fight against the oligarchy and imperialism, in this new period of intensified class struggles.

Regardless of what happens on July 1 — whether there is massive fraud to steal yet another election, or whether AMLO is declared the winner — the struggle to impose the demands of the workers and oppressed people, and to usher in a democracy, will be the order of the day.

That is why we call on all supporters of workers’ rights and democracy to join in supporting the Open Letter to Andrés Manuel López Obrador and to work with us to build the Committees in Defense of the People’s Will and Democracy.

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