Re: Cárdenas vs. Mexican student strikers

Tony Abdo aabdo at
Fri Jun 23 14:56:44 MDT 2000

What's this all about, Cardenas vs the UNAM strikers?     I believe that
there are two aspects of what the ny times is reporting about.     To
see a commentary in Spanish, along with 14 photos of the event....Go
To......El Norte..... and browse their site.

Cardenas is a Nader-like figure in Mexico.   And just like Nader, here
at home, Cardenas represents a staid electorite approach to Left
politics..... a Social Democratic Left approach.

Meanwhile, the student/ faculty strikers at UNAM represent an element
more akin to the street activists at the anti-WTO Seattle demos.
They are not looking for electoral positioning within the system, they
want it overthrown.

But here is where a second dimension of this event shows up.     Why did
Cardenas choose this time to march himself onto campus, and essentially
condemn the students for persisting in their acivism?    This was seen
as betrayal by the strikers, and an assist to further breaking the
striker's struggle against the powers that want to raise tuition, and
control the political environment on campus.

I believe it has to do with Cardenas sending a message to the PRI and
PAN of his acceptance of an unoffical power brokerage going on between
the 3 major political parties.     At the center of this is what should
come out of the July 2 elections.

Cardenas and the PRD have essentially conceded that they will not
contest the declaration of victory that will be made for Vicente Fox on
July 3.     If they were going to call this vote a fraud, now would be
the time to be doing it.    But Cardenas remains silent.

He realizes that the PRD is not in a strong enough position to contest
what Washington, Zedillo, the PAN, and the international financial
groupings are pushing to have declared July 3.     They all have shown
their support for 'alternancia' and giving Fox the vote count.

What Cardenas was able to negociate to get from this arrangement of
acceptance without struggle of US perpetrated fraud, is that the PRD
hangs on to the government of Mexico City after July 2.     So we have
to study a bit the case of Manuel Lopez Obrador, PRD candidate for El
Distrito Federal.

Cardenas had won this position,  and held it, until he announced his
campaign for the presidency.   It was an essential factor of why his
image of  being a winnable presidential candidate was destroyed.     He
appeared powerless in office, and was,  with the PRI in control of the
federal government.    The capitalist press was able to destroy his
image of being a capable manager of government position in Mexico City.
So why vote for him now?    He's been painted well as being a perennial

But Mexico City is the power base of PRD power.    After Cardenas
withdrew, Lopez Obrador was imported (ala Hillary to New York) to run
for the office being vacated.    There was one big problem, he wasn't a
resident of the city!      This was opposed by his PRI and PAN opponents
at the beginning, as one would expect.

But now, through much behind the scenes manipulation, he has been able
to continue as a candidate, and has reversed his original situation of
being #3 in the polls, to having a support of almost double either of
the other 2 candidates.

So the major tectonic plates of elite politics, both within Mexico and
internationally, are shifting the power brokering around in a way to
maintain the stability of Mexico after the July 2 events.    PAN gets
the presidency, PRI continues to dominate everywhere else except.... PRD
hangs on to Mexico City.     There--- everybody will be able to stay
somewhat satisfied.

So Cardenas marched onto the UNAM campus to declare repeatedly that the
university must function (be kept open/ NO STRIKE).     The PRD wants to
kick the energy out of any coninued protests by a more radical Left
within the terrritory that it is going to call its own.

As one can imagine, he didn't get the most friendly reception from the
already broken remnants of the earlier strike.



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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