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Hundreds of thousands gather to inaugurate López Obrador
ON 20 November, the official anniversary of the 1910 Mexican revolution, and 141 days after the right-wing parties stole the presidential election, the popular protest movement headed by the ex-presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) was out in force for its own inauguration ceremony in the Zócalo , Mexico City's main square.
Juan Guerrero, Mexico City
One of the biggest central squares in the world was filled up to the brink. People who had arrived late where trying to follow events in neighbouring streets.
The 300,000-strong crowd, made up of members of the PRD (Party of the Democratic Revolution), AMLO's party, the PT; the workers party (and coalition partner of the PRD in the Por el Bien de Todos alliance), and members of community organisations, braved the cold and waited quietly for the arrival of Obrador.
For months the media have been predicting the death of the protest movement and the political bankruptcy of AMLO and the PRD. Straight after the stolen elections AMLO called on his supporters to occupy the Zócalo and build a tent city there.
For 48 days the protesters camped in the square, protested throughout the country and did everything in their power to reclaim the election which so clearly had been stolen from them.
Today they were back and the official anniversary celebrations, organised by the government of the outgoing president Vicente Fox, disappeared into insignificance. Most acts of remembrance were cancelled.
'The legitimate government is the organised people'
When López Obrador appeared on the stage the crowd woke up and started shouting slogans. "Es un honor de estar con Obrador" (it is an honour to be with Obrador" and also "Si se pudo" (yes it can be done").
The inauguration started with a proposal from the head of the National Democratic Convention, an organisation made up of the different parties in the Obrador alliance, trade unions and community organisations. The proposal, arrived at through consultation of 1,025,000 delegates, was to mobilise again on 1 December to protest against the fraudulent presidential inauguration of Filipe Calderón .
The speaker asked the hundred thousands in front of him if they agreed and were prepared to occupy the Zócalo at 7am on 1 December. Immediately all hands were raised, as if it was the action of a single person.
Then the alternative government of 12 people, six women and six men, was proposed to the crowd.
The inauguration speech, given by Obrador, set out 20 programmatic points of the alternative government, points around which "a government of the people" will be organised, "the organisation of the most important civil movement that has ever existed in our history, we will build it from below - the political, economical, social and cultural transformation that Mexico needs".
The biggest cheers arose when López Obrador attacked the ruling class and the present and future official government of Mexico. "A government divorced from the people is nothing more than a facade, an egg shell, a bureaucratic apparatus, the legitimate government is the organised people". He called for the setting up of a truth commission to investigate the illegal enrichment and rampant corruption with which nationalised industries had been privatised, the old boys network around the political parties and the corrupt practices with which government contracts are granted.
His first measure of his popular government, Obrador said would be to "confront the economic monopolies" and to propose a "law on competitive prices" which will do away with "exaggerated prices the mexicans pay for services and goods".
He proclaimed a long list of prices Mexican people pay and compared them with the price a US citizen would pay for the same goods and services in the US. "It is not acceptable that Mexicans pay 223% more for cement, 260% more for broadband internet, 65% more for telephone, 116% more for household electricity, 116% more for cable television and 26,000% more charges for the use of a credit card".
Other points in the 20-point programme included free education, a national minimum wage enshrined in the constitution, protection of Mexican industry from international competition, rights for the indigenous people and all other minorities, no to privatisation and yes to the protection of the national patrimonium [heritage].
Obrador received the biggest cheer of the evening when stating that a people oppressed could not be expected to undergo this oppression peacefully. "When there is no justice, there can be no peace" and he announced his support for the rebellion in Oaxaca, demanding the resignation of the state governor Ulises Ruiz and the withdrawal of the militarised police from Oaxaca. (see the socialist 461)
The genie is out of the bottle
THIS RADICAL programme of reforms, as presented by Obrador, can act as a catalyst and a propeller for the struggle of the Mexican masses. The PRD, whilst it is not a workers' party, in the sense that it defends the class interests of the working class, can for now be a force around which groups of workers in struggle can gather.
Whilst Obrador included in the 20 points the need to democratise the trade union movement and supported secret ballots, a fundamental task for worker activists, socialists and revolutionaries, he did not at all refer to democratising the PRD, the need for a workers' and poor peasants' government or the need to break with capitalism.
The grip of the capitalist barons and reactionaries, supported by imperialism, over the Mexican people can only be broken by breaking with capitalism and thus breaking their power. The floodgates will open in Mexico. In this struggle we will stand side-by-side with the millions seeking a better life, a society more just and equal, and an end to the plundering of the tiny elite. Throughout we will defend revolutionary socialist ideas, explain and point to the fundamental tasks the mass movement has to undertake.
The creation of a mass workers' party, with democratically elected representatives, on a worker's wage and subject to recall. The necessity to reclaim and rebuilt the trade union movement. The urgency to defend a programme of genuine democratic socialism, with workers' control and management, and the immediate implementation of a emergency plan to rebuild society.
A people can be subjected, exploited, and abused for a long time. It can try to make ends meet, bow the head and endure terrible suffering. However, exploiters be warned, once it seeks change, once it stands up and has decided to fight for its rights, no multi-million dollar army can stop it, no amount of repression will knock it down. We are witnessing the first steps in this process in Mexico today.
In The Socialist 29 November 2006:
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