Cárdenas vs. Mexican student strikers

Louis Proyect lnp3 at SPAMpanix.com
Fri Jun 23 11:04:41 MDT 2000

There's a brief item in today's NY Times that is somewhat cryptic:

At least 15 people were hurt in clashes at the National Autonomous
University of Mexico after a rally for Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas Solórzano, a
left-leaning presidential candidate. Students who supported a recent strike
at the university attacked Cárdenas followers with burning flags, paint,
eggs and chicken entrails, causing a 10-minute brawl.

Since Cárdenas is supposed to be a "leftist", why would student strikers
attack him? Well, the answer is found in the latest "Lingua Franca."
Although the article is much too long for me to scan in and post, I
strongly recommend that comrades track it down. It is of more than casual
interest to Marxists.

The article is all about the bitter factional struggle that opened up
between older and more respectable leftists grouped around the newspaper La
Jornada and the young strikers, who were considered politically
unsophisticated and ultraleft. In addition, the students were also
perceived as socially unpalatable. The article, probably reflecting the
middle-class bias of "Lingua Franca" refers to their "bad teeth".

The strike was over attempts to institute cutbacks at UNAM, one of the
crown jewels of the PRI's long-forgotten leftist past, when the elder
Cárdenas created an array of state-sponsored benefits to create a social
base for his party. This, of course, was at a time when Mexican oil was
generating a lot of revenue and before the debt crises of recent years.

The students were backed by the Zapatistas and one of La Jornada's writers,
whose name I don't recall. On the other side you had Carlos Fuentes and
Jorge Castenada, the author of a post-Marxist study of Latin American
politics that emphasized the need to work for "civil society" after the
collapse of the Nicaraguan revolution and what appeared at the time as the
final days of Cuban communism. History has proven Castenada wrong. Fuentes
and Castenada are identified politically with Cárdenas' PRD which was
generally hostile to the strike.

These students appear to be part of a new radicalization in Latin America,
which includes the rank-and-file of the Argentinian labor movement, Ecuador
and Bolivian Indians, Hugo Chavez's government and Colombian guerrillas. At
some point these movements are going to reach out to each other politically
and it will be incumbent on us to lend solidarity.

Louis Proyect

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