(en) E;MexLaborNews,#14,Election Special, Jul 16

Chiapas95 (owner-chiapas95@mundo.eco.utexas.edu)
Thu, 17 Jul 1997 12:42:47 -0500 (CDT)


A AA AAAA The A-Infos News Service AA AA AA AA INFOSINFOSINFOS http://www.tao.ca/ainfos/ AAAA AAAA AAAAA AAAAA

This message is in MIME format. The first part should be readable text, while the remaining parts are likely unreadable without MIME-aware tools. Send mail to mime@docserver.cac.washington.edu for more info.

--68ea6ac4-fe31-11d0-9d78-00805fea3c3d Content-Type: TEXT/PLAIN; CHARSET=ISO-8859-1 Content-ID: <Pine.SOL.3.95.970717123511.5025E@arrow>

This posting has been forwarded to you as a service of Accion Zapatista de Austin.

---------- Forwarded message ---------- Date: Wed, 16 Jul 1997 20:00:11 -0400 From: Dan La Botz <103144.2651@compuserve.com> Subject: MLNA Election Special

Dear Friends, Attached please find Mexican Labor News and Analysis, Number 14, dealing with the Mexican elections. Dan La Botz

MEXICAN LABOR NEWS AND ANALYSIS July 16, 1997 Special Issue the Mexican Elections Vol. II, No. 14 ----------------------------------------------------------------- NOTE THAT NO. 15 IS ALSO BEING SENT OUT TODAY WITH REGULAR NEWS. ----------------------------------------------------------------- About Mexican Labor News and Analysis

Mexican Labor News and Analysis is produced in collaboration with the Authentic Labor Front (Frente Autentico del Trabajo - FAT) of Mexico and with the United Electrical Workers (UE) of the United States and is published the 2nd and 16th of every month.

MLNA can be viewed at the UE's international web site: HTTP://www.igc.apc.org/unitedelect/. For information about direct subscription, submission of articles, and all queries contact editor Dan La Botz at the following e-mail address: 103144.2651@compuserve.com or call (525) 661-33-97 in Mexico City.

MLNA articles may be reprinted by other electronic or print media, but we ask that you credit Mexican Labor News and Analysis and give the UE home page location and Dan La Botz's compuserve address.

The UE Home Page which displays Mexican Labor News and Analysis has an INDEX of back issues and an URGENT ACTION ALERT section. ---------------------------------------------------------------- IN THIS ISSUE: *Special Issue the Mexican Elections ---------------------------------------------------------------- 13 July 1997 Cardenas and the PRD Between the Promises to Capital and the Hopes of the People by Dan La Botz

Mexico has had a political earthquake that shifts the balance of forces in the country.

The victory of Cuauhtemoc Cardenas and his Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) in the Mexico City mayoral election, and the stunning defeats for the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) in the congress have changed the Mexican political landscape.

Cardenas's victory in the Mexico City mayoral election already makes him almost inevitably the PRD candidate for president, and front-runner against all comers.

For almost 70 years, since its foundation in 1929 the state- party, the PRI, has dominated Mexican politics. There were decades when no other party won a single important office in the country. The PRI held power through fear, favors and fraud, and when necessary through terror, more than half a century.

But Mexico's one-party-state now appears to have given way to a new pluralistic political paradigm. In this election, with few exceptions, Mexicans voted without intimidation or coercion, and without fraud in the count after the election. The July election was a victory for parliamentary democracy.

By the millions Mexicans went to the polls on July 6 and voted against the economic crisis and against the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, and for the opposition either in the form of the left-center Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) or the conservative National Action Party (PAN).

Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo, U.S. President Bill Clinton, political leaders of all the major Mexican parties, Mexican bankers and industrialists, political commentators and academic analysts all proclaimed this election a victory for democracy in Mexico. It was, perhaps, the first democratic election since that of Francisco I. Madero, a leader of the Mexican Revolution, in 1911.

But while this is a victory for democracy, and for the center-left Party of the Democratic Revolution and for Cardenas, it is also a political shift which guarantees greater political stability for international capital and its investments in Mexico.

What Kind of Democracy and For Whom?

Nevertheless, this victory for electoral democracy only begins a broader process of democratization. Mexicans, especially poor Mexicans in rural areas in the southern states, do not enjoy civil liberties. The Mexican police and military still engage in kidnapping, torture and murder of political opponents and social activists.

The economic situation remains critical. Perhaps 25 percent of all Mexicans are under- or unemployed. Mexicans are still among the lowest paid workers in the world, most earning between three and ten dollars per day. Millions, especially among the elderly and infants, suffer from malnutrition.

What does Cardenas's election mean for the majority of Mexicans who are working class people? What will Cardenas's and the PRD's victory mean for the labor movement and for other social movements in Mexico?

We begin first with the election results in Mexico City and nationally, and with the situation in Chiapas, before turning to political analysis.

Cardenas and the PRD in Mexico City: An Overwhelming Victory

Cuauhtemoc Cardenas of the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) won the election for mayor Mexico City held on July 6, while the PRD nationally succeeded in becoming the second most important political party in the Mexican Congress.

In Mexico City, Cardenas won 47.11% of the votes; while Alfredo del Mazo of the long-dominant Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) received only 25.08 percent of the votes, and Carlos Castillo Peraza of the conservative National Action Party (PAN) won 15.26 percent.

Not only did Cardenas win the mayoral election, but his party also carried 38 out of 40 "majority wins" seats in the Legislative Assembly. Adding the proportional representation seats, the PRD will have 38 of 66 seats in the Mexico City Legislative Assembly, while the PRI will have 12; the PAN 10; the Mexican Ecological Green Party (PVEM) 4, the Workers Party (PT), 1; and the Cardenist Party (which has nothing to do with Cuauhtemoc Cardenas), 1. The PRD can be expected to win the support of the PVEM's 4 delegates on most matters.

Thus Cardenas will become Mayor on January 1, 1998 with better than an absolute majority in the City's legislature, and should be able to pass any measure he puts forward. Whether or not the PRI-dominated federal government will give him the funds to run the city remains to be seen.

PRI Defeated and Opposition Victorious In the National Legislature

In the national legislature, the Institutional Revolutionary Party suffered a devastating defeat, losing its majority in the congress for the first time in 70 years. In the Chamber of Deputies (the Mexican house of representatives) the PRI will have 240 representatives, the PRD 122, the PAN 120, the PVEM 11, and the PT 7. The PRD becomes the second most important political party in the Mexican house. With the divisions in the lower house, for the first time in modern Mexican history since the 1920s, the Mexican President and the PRI will not have an automatic majority in the legislature.

In the Senate, the PRI also lost an important element of power. The PRI, with 77 votes will not have the 85 notes necessary to pass Constitutional amendments. Thirty-two out of 128 senators were up for election (one Senator had died so the total only comes to 127). The PRI will now have 77 Senators; the PAN, 33; the PRD, 16; the PT, 1; the PVEM 1.

The National Action Party (PAN) succeeded in winning two governorships in Nuevo Leon and Queretaro. The PAN's victory in Nuevo Leon, a conservative northern state, had been expected, but the victory in Queretaro was a surprise. Historically the PRI, through its Mexican Confederation of Workers (CTM) has held control of this central manufacturing state. But this time the PRI-CTM machine broke down, and the PAN won. The PAN with several governorships and mayoralities probably remains the second most powerful party in the country.

On a national level, 57.1 percent of all Mexicans voted (29.8 million people), while 42.9 percent did not (or in some cases could not) vote (22.4 million people).

Democratic Upsurge Eliminate PRI's Puppet Parties, Fascists; Green Ecological Party Up

One of the interesting by-products of this election, was the virtual elimination of the Institutional Revolutionary Party's pseudo-socialist satellite parties. The Partido Cardenista (PC, former PFCRN or PST) and the Partido Popular Socialista (PPS) both received less than two percent of the vote, and consequently lose their registration or ballot status.

Another PRI puppet party, the Workers Party (PT), headed by Alberto Anaya, fell from being the fourth to the fifth national political party. Anaya and the PT, once creatures of former president Carlos Salinas de Gortari, have apparently finally got wind of the political changes taking place in Mexico, and announce that they will not longer form alliance with the PRI.

The Mexican Democratic Party which descends from the Sinarquistas, Mexico's own quasi-fascist party of the 1930s, also got less than two percent and lost its registration. Out of tune with the times, this vestige of goose-stepping Mexican fascists seems to have gone out of business.

The Mexican Ecological Green Party (PVEM) rose to become Mexico's fourth political party in Mexico City, receiving about seven percent of the vote in the Mexico City mayoral election. But this was less than the 10 percent which had been predicted in some polls. Adolfo Aguilar Zinser, an outspoken critic of the PRI, will become the PVEM's sole Senator.

Protests in Chiapas Prevent Voting in Some Areas; EZLN Abstains

The one area of Mexico where the election had an altogether different quality was Chiapas. The Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN), through its Subcomandante Marcos, had announced that its members and supporters in Chiapas would not vote because of the continued military occupation of the area; because of on-going attacks by "white guards" who beat, rape and murder indigenous activists; and because of the failure of the government to fulfill the San Andres Larrainzar agreements.

Not only did the EZLN not vote, but in many areas protestors made it impossible for the National Electoral Institute (IFE) to put up voting booths. Some voting boots and other materials were burned. Out of 3,520 voting booths to be installed, only 2,910 were installed in Chiapas. Some 35 percent of the electorate either did not or could not vote.

The Civic Alliance (Alianza Civica - AC) which engaged in election watching also reported serious violations of voters' rights in many locations in Chiapas.

In addition to the problems in Chiapas, the PRD contends that the PRI may have stolen the election in Campeche. Tens of thousands of PRD and PAN followers have marched in Campeche demanding that the election be overturned.

The Federal Electoral Institute received 146 specific complaints. The largest numbers of complaints were: 32 in the state of Mexico, 20 in the Federal District, 11 in Chiapas, 10 in Yucatan.

A Turning Point Election Zedillo Holds Out Hand of Cooperation

The Mexico City mayoral election of 1997 and the national legislative elections will go down in history as a turning point in the Mexican political system. The Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) which by various names has ruled Mexico since 1929 both lost control of Mexico City and has lost its majority in the lower house.

The PRI must now for the first time share some of its power with the left-center Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) and with the conservative National Action Party (PAN). Such power- sharing is simply unprecedented in Mexico, and this represents a genuine step toward political democracy.

President Ernesto Zedillo appeared on national television the night of July 6, before any official statistics were available, and standing before a portrait of Benito Juarez, told millions of viewers, "I want to very sincerely congratulate Cuauhtemoc Cardenas for [his] victory..."

Zedillo then went on to say, "I desire for him the greatest successes in his difficult responsibilities and I offer to him from now on that he can count on the unshakable will of the government of the Republic in order to establish a relationship of respectful collaboration, for the benefit always of the interests of the inhabitants of the Federal District."

On July 14 Zedillo met with Cardenas, and with smiles and a handshake posed before the cameras. Zedillo's reaction to the election of Cardenas represented an about-face by the PRI- government. A state-party which had squashed all of its opponents in the past, including Cardenas on two previous occasion, held out the hand of cooperation.

Zedillo told the Mexican people that they had begun a great "democratic fiesta." Zedillo and the PRI, naturally, took credit for having brought democracy to Mexico.

Victory Received Happily By International Capital

International capital reacted very favorably to Cardenas's victory. The Mexican Stock Market (the BMV) continued its record- breaking rally on July 7. "The financial market reacted positively to the results of the election," said one analyst.

The International Monetary Fund's managing director Stanley Fischer, expressed his confidence on July 8 that as a result of the elections, there would be no change in Mexico's economic program. Merril Lynch announced its confidence in the Mexican economy on July 10.

"This has to be very positive and healthy and is going to generate confidence in Mexico," Hugh Pace, president of Goodyear Mexico told the Wall Street Journal shortly after the election. "The question isn't which candidate won. The fact is that Mexico is more democratic today than it was yesterday. What that means for foreign investment is that those who bet on Mexico won."

Even Mexico's conservative capitalists in the Entrepreneurs Coordinating Council (CCE), rather like the U.S. Business Round Table, welcomed the election results. Jose Alfred Satos Asseo, the president of one of Mexico's national business chambers said, "We awaken with a new Mexico, strengthened by democracy. We hope that all the changes that we are experiencing are going to lead to a Mexico which is more free, more just, when civil society has much more to say."

Why should the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and Mexican and international capital apparently be so delighted with the victory of Cuauhtemoc Cardenas and the PRD in the elections?

The Enormity of the Crisis

The PRI has simply not been very effective since the end of President Carlos Salinas's term of office. The January 1994 Chiapas Uprising led by the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) provoked a national political crisis, followed in December of 1994 by the devaluation of the peso, and the "tequila effect" which threatened the international banking system.

Those two events were followed by appearance of a second guerrilla organization, the People's Revolutionary Army (EPR) and the subsequent militarization of several Mexican states--Chiapas, Tabasco, Guerrero, Oaxaca. In addition military-style conflicts between and among drug dealers, the police and the army led to the militarization of northern border states such as Chihuahua.

Taken altogether, the PRI appeared by 1997 to be leading Mexico--the neighbor of the United States and one of its most important economic players--into an enormous crisis. The U.S. could not permit Mexico to become a Colombia.

At the same time, business not permit Mexico to become a Peru: they do not want either another Sendero or another Fujimori. The banks and multinational corporations, international capital, big business, call it what you will, do not like disorder. Political and social disturbances threaten the orderly operation of banks and corporations and jeopardizes investment.

The rising level of discord and disturbances in Mexico-- social, economic and political--led international capital, and the United States government which acts as its agent in Mexico, to understand that the Institutional Revolutionary Party's seventy-year old regime had exhausted itself and no longer served to keep things in order. So things would have to change.

Top leaders of the PRI, also perceived that their ability to control the old system was breaking down. In fact the PRI's authority had been breaking down ever so slowly since the 1968 army massacre of students at Tlatelolco, the 1985 earthquake, and the 1988 presidential election which was actually won by Cuauhtemoc Cardenas. Despite enormous repression--like the killing 500 PRD activists between 1989 and 1997 and the militarization of several state--the PRI was losing its grip.

Bankers and businessmen, the U.S. government, and the PRI came to the conclusion separately and together that the time had come for a new political system in Mexico. The PRI would have to give up its one-party rule in Mexico, not in order to bring about democracy, but in order to protect capital.

No doubt U.S. capital would have preferred a two-party system with power-sharing between the PRI and the PAN. But the National Action Party (PAN) which had been a junior partner to the PRI during the Salinas and Zedillo years, had lost most of its credibility among many of the Mexican people. Because it had participated in Zedillo's cabinet, the PAN was seen in sharing responsibility for the crisis. Consequently the PRD, not the PAN, became the principal benefactor of the new power-sharing arrangement.

The U.S. government and the multinational corporations might have used their usual tools to stop Cardenas, threatening a massive withdrawal of capital, a campaign of red-baiting, allegations this election would contribute to instability, or linking Cardenas to the EZLN and EPR. The U.S. government and business did not do so because they became convinced that Cardenas is safe.

The PRD--Reasonable, Respectable

During the last few years, the PRD took several steps which meant to give more confidence to give bankers, businessmen, and the U.S. government.

To win the confidence of international capital, the PRD's proclaimed its acceptance of capitalism and even neo-liberalism. In May in New York, Cuauhtemoc Cardenas told an assembly of bankers that he was prepared to follow the Chilean model. New York financiers reported that that discussion was key in swinging capital to Cardenas.

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, president of the PRD, met with the Mexican Coordinating Council of Entrepreneurs at the Industrialists Club on June 11 told bankers and businessmen, "We are not advocates of a moratorium [on paying the foreign debt], nor is our economic program the extreme opposite of the government's. We are not talking about a night and day change. It is only a question of getting rid of some of the sharp edges of neoliberalism and giving it a social orientation."

Cardenas and the PRD succeeded in convincing the important players--the international bankers and the U.S. government above all--that they could be trusted. The U.S. government and the banks then put pressure on Zedillo and the PRI to accept political power sharing.

The PRD and the Social Movements

The reason that Cardenas and the PRD had to work so hard to convince the powers-that-be that they were really reformist is that they have a reputation for being really radical. The reputation is not without some justification.

When it was founded in 1989, the PRD was a merger between two tendencies: a group from the PRI and a group of the Mexican Communist Party tradition. Cuauhtemoc Cardenas and the Democratic Current of the PRI merged with the Unified Socialist Party of Mexico (PSUM). Cardenas brought his own radical base in the form of militant peasants from Michoacan. The PSUM brought to the marriage not only the Communist Party's reformist tradition, but also former guerrilla groups and other more radical tendencies.

Since that time, the PRD has attracted many movement activists. Among those elected in July, for example, were three leaders of the debtors movement, El Barzon; Patria Jimenez, a lesbian activist; two members of the Broad Front for the Creation of a National Liberation Movement (FAC-MLN); a leader of the Tepoztlan struggle against the creation in that town of a private Golf Course; and a former candidate for secretary general of the National Teachers Union (el SNTE).

One of the two FAC-MLN leaders elected to congress was Benito Miron, an advisor to the Mexico City bus drivers of Route 100 (SUTAUR), an independent union which spent over a year in a desperate struggle with the PRI-government of Mexico City.

The PRD--A Populist Party

How then are we to characterize the PRD? What kind of party is it that on the one hand makes promises to capital, and on the other hand includes among its legislators the radical leaders of the debtors movement and the labor movement? The PRD is what a political scientist might call in somewhat European terms, a radical, democratic, petty-bourgeois party. That is, a political party with ties to the radical middle class movements and to labor.

At the same time the PRD is a Latin American populist party, a party which represents and makes concessions to popular movements of the middle class, labor and the peasantry, but at the same time remains a traditional political party. While Cardenas has been an advocate of democracy and economic reform, he is also something of a traditional Caudillo. Someone called him the Caudillo whose charisma is that he has no charisma. In any case he remains a leader who stands somewhat above his party, somewhat independent of it.

The PRD, then is not precisely a party of capital such as the Democratic or Republican Party in the United States, nor is it exactly a Social Democratic Party along the European model (despite its membership in the Socialist International). The PRD, with its origins in the PRI, is a rather too traditional Mexican political party at the center-left of the spectrum. While Cardenas and the PRD genuinely want more democracy, social reforms, and an improvement in the economic life of working people, they do not have a radical program for economic change. Whether they will be pushed to the left by their followers remains to be seen.

PRD Victory Raises Expectations of Labor

The victory of Cuauhtemoc Cardenas for Mexico City mayor in July raises the hopes and expectations of many poor and working class people. Workers will be encouraged by Cardenas's victory to push forward their demands upon their employers and the state. But the state will be Cardenas, at least in Mexico City.

The PRD has never had much of a strategy towards labor.But during this election, things began to change. For example, a group of executive, legislative and judicial employees of the Federal District placed an ad in newspapers on July 2 expressing their support for Cardenas, "because he has been the only candidate who has solidarized himself with our struggle, has listened to us and has made our demands his..." The group urged all workers and union members to vote for Cardenas and the PRD. Many other workers felt the same, and voted for Cardenas, and expect things to change.

The PRD, then is not precisely a party of capital such as the Democratic or Republican Party in the United States, nor is it exactly a Social Democratic Party along the European model (despite its membership in the Socialist International). The PRD, with its origins in the PRI, is a rather too traditional Mexican political party at the center-left of the spectrum. While Cardenas and the PRD genuinely want more democracy, social reforms, and an improvement in the economic life of working people, they do not have a radical program for economic change. Whether or not their base will try to force them to remains to be seen.

"Official Unions" in Crisis

The combination of the economic crisis and now the PRD election victory have worked to create a serious problem for the bureaucracy of Mexico's government-PRI-supported unions, the "official unions." The death last month of 97-year old Fidel Velazquez, who had headed the CTM for fifty years, combined with the victory of Cuauhtemoc Cardenas, creates serious problems for the CTM which has always had its strongest base in Mexico City.

The PRI through the Congress of Labor (CT) and the Confederation of Mexican Workers (CTM) and other federations (CROM, CROC, FSTSE) controls most of Mexico's workers and their votes. The CTM has dominated the Mexican labor movement since its foundation in 1936 and plays the leading role in the Congress of Labor.

But after the economic crisis began in December 1994, a division opened within the Congress of Labor between the CTM and the Federation of Unions of Firms of Goods and Services (FESEBES) led by Francisco Hernandez Juarez, head of the telephone workers union (STRM). Former President Carlos Salinas de Gortari had promoted Hernandez Juarez and FESEBES as the advocates of a "new unionism" based on cooperation with management, improved quality, and flexible contracts.

Hernandez Juarez and FESEBES took the initiative to convoke the Forum of Unionism Before the Nation or Foro with a public forum on unemployment on September 4, 1995. Out of those forums came a group of about 25 unions, including some independent or democratic unions not belonging to the CT. This Forum, or Foro group of unions, began to call for more democracy within the labor movement, thus leading to differences within Fidel Velazquez and the CTM.

In addition to the CTM/CT and the Foro group of unions there also exists a third labor federation, the May First Inter-Union Group. The May First group is a radical organization of labor unions, leftist groups, and community organizations which came together during the struggle of the Mexico City bus drivers to stop the privatization of Route 100 and the destruction of its independent union (SUTAUR).

Veteran CTM official Leonardo Alcaine Rodriguez, who succeeded Velazquez, continues in his unconditional support of the PRI and his authoritarian approach to the federation. He is being challenged by Juan S. Millan, another long-time CTM leader who advocates dialogue with the Foro group of unions and even the May-First Coalition.

The real problem is the absence of significant working class action. Strikes throughout Mexico are at an all-time low. Only the National Coordinating Committee (la CNTE) of the teachers union (el SNTE), carries out militant mass mobilization of its members. Without some upheaval from below, it is hard to imagine significant change in the Mexican unions.

Cardenas's election, however, may provide just the sense of hope which sets some workers moving in a dual struggle to both democratize their unions and to create organizations capable of fighting for higher wages. Workers in Mexico need more than anything else, a victory in some struggle against their employers and the state. With such a victory the picture could change rapidly.

However, if workers begin to move, inspired by Cardenas's victory and a new more democratic political situation, they may begin making economic demands which even Cardenas will not be willing or able to meet. What happens when Cardenas's victory inspires worker resistance which comes into conflict with Cardenas's promises to bankers, industrialists and the U.S. government?

Cuauhtemoc Cardenas, the PRD and the Left

The Mexican left finds itself in great confusion, unable to sort out the meaning of the last ten tumultuous years. What is the left's view of the state? Of political parties? Of the PRD? How does the left intend to build its political power in order to change society?

Many of these questions on which the left had clear views ten years ago now appear incredibly complicated to Mexican leftists, in part because they no longer have any clear principles on which to make decisions. If we review the last ten or fifteen years of the left's history, we can see why this is the case:

When Carlos Salinas de Gortari was elected president in 1988, he and his brother Raul began to draw various leftist groups, mostly Maoists, into their National Solidarity Program (PRONASOL) and then either into the PRI or into the puppet Workers Party (PT). So a good party of the left joined the establishment.

In 1988 most of the Communist left joined the National Democratic Front (FDN) supporting the campaign of Cuauhtemoc Cardenas. Many, perhaps most Mexican people saw the 1988 election as a context between the PRI's dictatorship and the possibility of democracy. Leftist groups which tried to resist the tide were destroyed. For example, the Trotskyist Revolutionary Workers Party (PRT) ran Rosario Ibarra de Piedra for their presidential candidate for the second time, and she received virtually no support.

Then, in 1989, when Cuauhtemoc Cardenas organized the Party of the Democratic Revolution, former Communists, former Castroite guerrillas, and some Maoists and even some Trotskyists joined. Most of the left in Mexico dissolved itself into the new center- left PRD, and distinctive leftist parties more or less disappeared.

The crisis of the left deepened, however, with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. "Real existing socialism," as they sometimes called it, had ceased to be real, and so had the left. Disoriented, many former Communists and other leftists lost a clear sense of political identity and purpose.

The Chiapas Rebellion and the New Left

The Chiapas Uprising of January 1994, led by the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) created a new left in Mexico. Because it arose as an armed movement outside of the state and the legal, parliamentary parties, and because it took its stand with the poorest and most oppressed people in Mexico, that is the Mayan Indians of Chiapas, the EZLN enjoyed enormous moral authority.

Many leftists who had become disillusioned and dissatisfied since the collapse of the old left and since the failures of the PRD rallied to the EZLN. Even more important, many Indians, peasants, and workers, and above all many young middle class students, who had never had any political experience now supported the EZLN. Thus the Chiapas Rebellion and the EZLN created a "new left" outside of the political parties.

Without going into all the details, after the National Democratic Convention (CND) held in August 1994, this new left split into two factions. These factions became the Zapatista Front for National Liberation (FZLN) which claims 10,000 members throughout Mexico, and the Broad Front for the Creation of a National Liberation Movement (FAC-MLN), a coalition of scores of poor peoples organizations.

The FAC-MLN became sympathetic toward the Mexico's second major guerrilla organization, the Peoples Revolution Army (EPR), a more traditional Guevarist guerrilla group. So today there are two guerrilla armies, EZLN and EPR, each of which is linked to a social/political movement, respectively the FZLN and FAC-MLN. The EPR virtually endorsed Cardenas and the PRD, and thus despite its armed organization entered into mainstream politics.

What is the new left's political analysis of Cardenas and the PRD? The weakness of this new left is that both new left factions, the EZLN-FZLN and the EPR/FAC-MLN tend to talk often in moral rather than analytical and political terms about the questions of political parties and electoralism. The EZLN-FZLN criticizes the PRD for its political manoeuvering, for its corruption, and for its failure to consistently oppose neo- liberalism. Marcos and the EZLN, for example, seldom if ever argue the class-character of the PRD, that is that it is middle class, populist party, and not a party which represents working class people and their interests.

The strength of the EZLN is that it continues to talk about the need for organization from below to force changes in the political system. When Cardenas and the PRD have become the establishment, Marcos and the EZLN-FZLN will still be the opposition. The EZLN remains the most important group on the new left, and what it says and does in the next few months could be very important for defining the Mexican left for the next decade. What the EZLN will say and do remains unclear. The EZLN remains, as Marcos has put it, in a moment of "indefinicion politica" which he recognizes cannot last forever.

What Next?

The election of July 6, 1977 represents an historic turning point in Mexican politics. The one-party-state is yielding to parliamentary democracy and political power sharing, an important part--if only a small part--of creating a democracy. The Mexican people dealt a blow against the "perfect dictatorship" of the Institutional Revolutionary Party. The vote for Cuauhtemoc Cardenas and the Party of the Democratic Revolution was an expression of the hopes and aspirations of many ordinary Mexican working people for a society with democracy and with economic opportunity.

But at the same time, Cardenas and the PRD made it clear to international business, the U.S. government, and the Institutional Revolutionary Party that they intend to guarantee political stability and the interests of capital. This contradiction between the hopes of the working people and the PRD's responsibility to capital and the Mexican state provides the principal dynamic of the new situation. When the working people's needs and desire come into conflict with Cardenas's promises to capital--and that could be in a year or a decade-- Mexico will move beyond parliamentary democracy to the question of working class independence, which implies the long term question of socialism. ### END OF MEXICAN LABOR NEWS AND ANALYSIS VOL. 2, NO. 14, 16 JULY 97

--68ea6ac4-fe31-11d0-9d78-00805fea3c3d--

--
To unsubscribe from this list send a message containing the words
unsubscribe chiapas95 to majordomo@eco.utexas.edu.  Previous messages are
available from http://www.eco.utexas.edu or gopher://eco.utexas.edu.

****** A-Infos News Service ***** News about and of interest to anarchists

Subscribe -> email MAJORDOMO@TAO.CA with the message SUBSCRIBE A-INFOS Info -> http://www.tao.ca/ainfos/ Reproduce -> please include this section