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By Javier Rodriguez from Mexico City 15 Sept 2012
Today is the 15th of September, one of the most symbolic days in the history of Mexican people and its independence from Spanish Colonialism. On that night of 1810, the priest Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, the father of Mexican independence, led the first armed rebellion against the Spaniards. And the 202 year legend says, the insurrection began with the battle cry of “El Grito de Dolores Hidalgo” which signaled the beginning of the glorious war that ended 300 years of Spanish colonial rule and gave birth to the Mexican nation.
Regardless of where Mexicans maybe on the 15th and for whatever reason, as is the case for the over thirty million in the United States, the cry of the priest reverberates in the hearts and minds of Mexican people and at the sound of the bells at 11 PM and amidst the cries of “Viva Mexico,” the chills of nationalism and pride runs through the blood and soul of the people.
Let me give you an example of a vivid memory capsule in the life of a Mexican immigrant family in America on the night of “El Grito.” On September 15, 1956, at 26 days after crossing the border and landing in Los Angeles, our family was already residing at a large Boyle Heights Public Housing Tract in the Eastside. On that evening, my brother Antonio and I were listening to the celebration on Radio Kali, one of only two existent Spanish language stations of the time. When the awaited moment arrived and the bells rang and we heard the crowd chant in chorus, spontaneously in unison, we both put our heads out the window and screamed, “Viva Mexico, gringos hijos de la jijurria/Long live Mexico gringos.” We had no idea that the emotional outburst would mark us for the rest of our lives. It wasn’t just a fleeting moment of nostalgia, it became a pillar of pride and defense of our dignity in an environment of constant cultural aggression and racism, that in time it thrust us into the struggle of civil and human rights in America, without ever losing our roots.
Today in Mexico the celebrations take place in the middle of a brutal unconventional war that is ravaging the country and the people and with no end in sight. The tribunal certified but highly questioned president elect, Enrique Pena Nieto, promises a continuation of the conflict and also the continuity of the economic model of neo liberalism and capitalist globalization in place since 1982. The economic policies in a Mexico ruled by the PRI and the PAN for the last three decades has left a staggering panorama of social polarization and an overwhelming majority of have nots, the 99%. In contrast the very few have concentrated the wealth and power of the country into a diminutive minority, experts say, thirty billionaires and politicians who rule an estimated 120 million Mexicans. Additionally, the nation has just gone through another presidential election that left the clear stench of another mega fraud, which purchased the vote of millions of poor voters, and this is the third in 24 years and all of them against left leaning candidates which, had promised a change in the nation’s direction, away from the existing and perpetual political system of privileges, corruption and impunity.
So the celebrations will be surrounded by military barriers and metal detectors, plus dogs, and guarded by tens of thousands of soldiers and police of all levels in many cities throughout Mexico.
With the armed forces, the national federal police, the business organizations and the media monopolies covering their back, At the same time, the outgoing President Vicente Calderon and the incoming Pena Nieto and their right wing political parties that hold a majority in both federal legislative houses, have reached an agreement to railroad and fast track approve the new labor reform law. This is a pro corporate piece which will erode rights and benefits for workers and the labor movement as a whole. The miners union has labeled it as a law where “in Mexico will prevail a new social and labor slavery.” Why, because it seeks to reduce and destroy long gained labor rights as the right to strike, it will impose a salary wage, introduce provisional contracts, weakened seniority and outsource labor amongst other onerous clauses. The miners charge that the law was written by the business class geared to strengthen their position and weaken the working class and unions.
On the political agenda for after 1 December, when Pena Nieto takes office, is the probable reform and privatization of Mexico’s oil and other energy resources. Long a source of national pride, oil was actually nationalized in 1928 by then President Lazaro Cardenas and for years has been the primary source of national income. Of course, as in other countries it is a coveted exploitable national resource and the “Panistas and Priistas” have no reservation about privatizing it and selling it to national and international capitalists and big oil. They tried to fast track it after the 2006 election but the elected members of the left coalition in the House of Deputies, still under a heavy moral influence by Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, at his warning, took the podium by force and stopped all activity and the legislative process was put at a hold.
Though the left coalition in congress, as well as MORENA, the Movement for National Regeneration, have promised an all out fight, there are signs of political fracture. We will see.
Javier Rodriguez is a long time activist in LA’s social movement, particularly Latino politics, has been active in the field of immigrant rights since 1971, with 22 years as a rank and filer in labor, he is also an independent journalist, a media and political strategist, On his third trip through Mexico this year, he has been observing and writing about the political process. Additionally on 2 March 2012 he was part of a nine person truck convoy that delivered 10 tons of humanitarian aid to three Tarahumara communities in the PRD Municipal District of Cachiric.