[Marxism] Pres. candidate attresses Mexico fight for oil, immigrant rights in US

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Sat Jun 28 05:55:41 MDT 2008

1) Statement by Cynthia McKinney, Power to the People presidential candidate
in the United States, in solidarity with the people of Mexico in their
struggle to defend their Oil and Other Natural Resources


In early April 2008, I participated in the Second Continental Workers'
Conference in Mexico City organized by the International Liaison Committee
of Workers and Peoples (ILC). I was honored to have been a keynote speaker
at the conference's opening night rally at the hall of the Mexican
Electrical Workers Union (SME).

My experience in Mexico opened my eyes to the new political situation facing
the peoples of Mexico and the entire continent.

I learned that a powerful united front now exists in Mexico against the
NAFTA-inspired privatizations that will result in the theft of Mexico's
patrimony in natural resources.

The Mexican Congress was shut down by the real opposition that they have in
Mexico. Bush even looked impotent as he stood in New Orleans with Calderón
("el espurio," or illegitimate one), Mexico's so-called "President," who
didn't deliver. The PEMEX Privatization bill was supposed to have passed by
now. Mexico's Congress adjourned without passing it. Score one for the
people. When the people stand up, the people can win. But when we fail or
fear to stand up, we are assured of losing.

One of the leading papers in Mexico City had a photo of the Chamber of
Deputies of the Mexican Congress with an unfurled banner covering the
Speaker's Rostrum, proclaiming the Chamber "Closed." The banner was hung by
elected Members of the Mexican Congress who constitute the Frente Amplio
Progresista that has dared to draw a line in the sand against U.S.-inspired
legislation just introduced to allow foreign corporate ownership of PEMEX,
Mexico's state-owned oil company.
Mexican women are energized around the idea of nation.  The idea of patria.
I wrote my Master's Thesis on the "Idea of Nation." And to see the women, in
their t-shirts and kerchiefs, so committed to their country, their nation,
their identity. To them, that's Mexico's oil, natural gas, electricity,
land, and water and it ought to be used by the Mexican people first and
foremost for their own national development. But sadly, it's the public
policy emanating from Washington, D.C. that threatens that.
But to tell that story accurately, would also require that the U.S.
corporate press expose why this citizen outrage exists in the first place.
And to tell that story, they would have to expose the fact of a stolen
Presidential election, where a private U.S., Georgia, corporation, possibly
played a role in stripping citizens of their right to vote and have their
votes counted.  Well, while that might sound like what happened in the
United States, centering in Florida, in the U.S. 2000 Presidential election,
I'm really talking about the 2006 Mexican Presidential election in which the
popular candidate didn't win because all the votes weren't counted.
According to Greg Palast, the U.S. corporation involved in the Mexican move
was none other than that now infamous Georgia-based company: Choicepoint.
We know that in Florida, Choicepoint, then doing business as DataBase
Technologies, constructed an illegal convicted felons list of some 94,000
names, many of whom were neither convicted nor felons. But if your name
appeared on that list, you were stopped from voting. Greg Palast tells us
that for most of the names on that list, their only crime was "Voting While
Under a special "counter-terrorism" contract, the U.S. FBI obtained Mexican
and Venezuelan voter files. Palast learned later in his investigation that
the U.S. government had obtained, through Choicepont, voter files of all the
countries that have progressive Presidents. Many Mexicans went to the polls
to vote for their President, only to find that their names had been scrubbed
from the voter list, and they were not allowed to vote.  So now, not only in
the United States, but in Mexico, too, one can show up to vote and not be
sure that that vote was counted, or worse, one can show up duly registered
to vote, and not even be allowed to vote.
I guess this is the way we allow our country to now export democracy.
Unlike in the United States in 2000, Mexico City was shut down for five
months when Lopez Obrador, Mexico's Al Gore, refused to concede and instead,
formed a shadow government.
The issue in the 2006 Mexican election was privatization of Mexico's oil; it
is the riveting issue taking place in Mexican politics today. Teachers on
strike at the same time as the Presidential elections in Oaxaca, one of the
poorest states in Mexico, began their political movement as a call for
increased teacher salaries and against privatization of schools.  Due to
heavy-handed tactics used by the government against the teachers, tens of
thousands of citizens joined them and took over the central city area of
that state. Today, after Mexico has added teachers and those who support
teachers to its growing ranks of "political prisoners," teachers are still
protesting their conditions, the reprisals taken against them for striking,
and now, the teachers' union is a committed part of the national
mobilization against privatization of PEMEX.
I was invited to participate in the Second Continental Workers Conference.
The first meeting was held in La Paz, Bolivia. And so, people from all over
Mexico and eight different countries told of their struggles, their hopes,
their ideals, their values, their patriotism, their desire for peace-no more
Representatives from Chiapas, another one of Mexico's poorest states, told
us of the indigenous struggle for land and self-determination, the
low-intensity warfare waged against them, and how now they, too, count
themselves a part of the national mobilization against PEMEX privatization.
While I was there, mine workers had taken over the mines, and so, could only
send a handful of inspiring representatives. They are pressing for the right
to unionize, denied to them by the Government. And the mine workers are a
part of the solid front forming in Mexico to protect this powerful idea of
I participated in one of the many rallies organized by opponents of the
government's plan to offer up Mexico's patrimony to the insatiable multiple
U.S. addictions.  One woman removed her brigadista t-shirt and gave it to me
- proud that a citizen of the United States came to stand with them.
Today's front page of La Jornada says that the women, who marched 10,000
strong on the day that I was there, have renewed their protests and civil
disobedience.  The threat of violence and bloodshed is very real.
Now, why should this massive social, political, and economic upheaval in
Mexico, aside from its human rights implications, be important to us up here
in the United States?
Because the sad truth of the matter is that, in many respects, it is our
military and economic policies that are causing it. Of course, I recognize
that all the way back to the practice of Manifest Destiny and the
declaration of the Monroe Doctrine, U.S. policy decisions have at times sent
shock waves to places outside our borders. You could say that the modern
version of that is NAFTA.
In 1993, the Democratic majority in the United States Congress supported
then-President Bill Clinton's push for passage of the North American Free
Trade Agreement. The stated purpose of the legislation was to remove
barriers to trade and investment that existed in North America. The
propaganda had it that the objective was to lift all boats, in Canada, the
United States, and Mexico through trade and investment. The result is the
stripping away and transfer of Mexico's patrimony in terms of their natural
and human resources. And the Mexican people are taking a stand against it.
They are taking the same stand that the little people in Haiti, Venezuela,
Brazil, Chile, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Ecuador, and Argentina have taken.  With
the power of the vote, the people of these countries dared to believe that
they could peacefully defeat the colossus to the north.  And they did.
And so, in a way, now, I guess I understand why the corporate press can't
tell you and  me the truth about the valiant stand for dignity that's going
on in Mexico, because to truly cover the story, they'd have to uncover and
point out some inconvenient truths.
One of those inconvenient truths particularly meaningful to me: There comes
a time when silence is betrayal.
We, the little -- and yet so powerful -- people in this country have been
way too silent for way too long on all the issues that mean so much.
Dr. King also said that our lives begin to end the day we become silent
about the things that matter.
On one of my early days in Congress, I was late for a vote. I looked up on
the board and only saw green votes; I presumed that the vote was a
non-controversial item on the calendar.  Since I was among the last to vote,
there was no time to inquire. I pressed my green button. Afterwards, I
learned that the vote might have been what others would have called an
"easy" yes vote, but for my conscience it was a no vote. Later that night,
my heart sank as I watched the news. One man of 78 years was so angered by
that vote that he threw stones.  Only thing, he had a heart attack throwing
stones, and died.
My heart sank.  I felt personally responsible for that man's death and vowed
that I would never cast what they call easy votes, again. My one vote would
not have changed the outcome of the tally on the resolution. But my one vote
would have been true to my values and my ideals that everyone is entitled to
human rights that are to be respected.
I got into trouble often after that, because I recognized my responsibility
to read the legislation, think analytically, question critically, and vote
That was while I was in Congress. But now that I'm not, does that mean that
the responsibility is gone? No.
I happened to vote against NAFTA, and I'm glad for that.  But imagine if the
all the voters in the entire United States understood that something as
simple as a vote in a federal election might determine who lives and who
dies in another country.  Imagine, if we in the United States were as
certain of the possibility of peaceful change through the vote as were the
people of Haiti, Mexico -- despite having their election stolen from them,
Venezuela, and the rest. Then we would vote Members of Congress out of
office who support Plan Colombia. We would vote Members of Congress out of
office who support Plan Mexico-which like its Colombian counterpart, is the
military answer to the cry of the people for dignity, self-determination,
and that idea of patria. We would not vote for any political party that did
not have as its agenda extending the same respect and love of life to all
others as we reserve for ourselves.
I met people in Mexico City who are willing to die in this struggle. But
they shouldn't have to because the United States wants their oil. We voters
in the United States do have as much power as the voters in all those other
countries. All we have to do is believe in ourselves and use it.


(Cynthia McKinney is a former six-term Member of the U.S. Congress from the
state of Georgia.)


While she was in San Francisco to participate in the ILWU's May 1st March
and Rally, Cynthia McKinney also spoke at two other events during the day:
(1) an immigrant rights' rally in the San Francisco Civic Center, and (2) an
immigrant rights rally at Frank Ogawa Plaza in downtown Oakland.
Sister McKinney said she was proud to have participated in the rally with
the longshore workers in support of their central demand to end the war in
Iraq, to bring the troops home now, and to fund human needs, not war.

She said she was proud to be speaking at a rally in support of immigrant
workers in the United States, and in particular in support of their demands
for unconditional amnesty and full labor rights. She added that as a Black
woman, she understood full well the meaning of the discrimination,
oppression and hatred that are being heaped upon immigrants coming from
Latin America.

She said that as part of the struggle to defend immigrant workers, it is
necessary to repeal the "Free Trade" agreements that are destroying millions
of jobs throughout the Americas, forcing people to risk life and limb
crossing the border to find a means to sustain their families. We have to
support the right of people south of our border not to emigrate, she added.
They don't want to leave their families and break up their communities. They
are forced to leave the countries to feed their families because of the
policies imposed by our own government.

She said she was proud to have stood side by side with Andrés Manuel López
Obrador and with the 10,000 women "Brigadistas' only a few weeks earlier in
Mexico City at a rally where they were demanding an immediate halt to the
proposed "reform" aimed at privatizing Mexico's oil resources.
Sister McKinney concluded by stressing the need to build a powerful movement
for immigrant rights, anchored in the combined struggles of Black and Latino
workers. We must build the Black-Brown alliance, she insisted.

- R.I.



[Note: Following are brief excerpts from an interview with former Georgia
Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney. The interview was conducted for the ILC
International Newsletter by Alan Benjamin, editor of The Organizer

Question: Sister McKinney, as someone who is running for president of the
United States on behalf of the Power to the People electoral coalition, how
do you view the issues of "free trade" and immigrant rights?

Cynthia McKinney: We have to put a stop to these "free trade" agreements,
and quickly. After 14 years of NAFTA it is absolutely clear that
unemployment in the United States has risen as a result of this treaty. We
are losing jobs -- especially jobs with living wages and benefits -- to all
these "free trade" agreements, be it NAFTA, CAFTA, the Caribbean FTA, the
U.S.-Peru FTA, you name it.

The American workers are not benefiting from these agreements. Their jobs
and communities are being destroyed. Nor are working people in the rest of
the world benefiting from these agreements. Quite the contrary: Their
working conditions and living standards, which were already bad, are
deteriorating exponentially. Only the transnational corporations are
benefiting. They are reaping super-profits.

This new "globalization" has become a race to the bottom. And now the
American workers have joined in this race.

On the subject of immigration, the corporations, the mainstream politicians
and their mouthpieces in the media have found scapegoats for their failed
policies. They tell us the "illegal immigrants" are responsible for the
massive loss of jobs in this country. This is a bold-faced lie. What is
illegal is the way that U.S. economic policies treat workers in this country
and throughout the world.

It is impossible to discuss the issue of so-called "illegal immigration"
without addressing the reasons millions of people are forced to flee their
countries to come to the United States. It's our economic "free trade"
policies and our military interventionist policies that destabilize
countries the world over and create the massive movements of people escaping
their plight in the hope of supporting their families.

You have to address the underlying problems behind the immigration boom by
implementing policies internationally based on the respect for the
sovereignty of the peoples and nations of the world, based on respect for
the principles of self-determination and human rights -- that is, policies
aimed at promoting genuine cooperation -- not oppression and exploitation.

And as you do this, you have to put a halt to policies at home that
criminalize the victims or treat them as second-class citizens. These are
all union-busting and wage-depressing tactics couched in terms of making the
victim appear to be the perpetrator.

An amnesty program, such as was instituted in the 1980s, would be a way to
deal with this question equitably while the economic conditions producing
the massive flight of people from their countries is addressed.

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