Tuesday September 2nd, 2014, 3:09 pm (EDT)

The Giant with the Seven-League Boots, Part 1

I learned of it through Aristotle, the most famous philosopher in the history of humankind.

Human beings are capable of marvelous actions or the very worst injustices.

Their astonishing intelligence is capable of using the unalterable laws of nature for good or evil.

With much less experience than I possess today, during those days in which our armed struggle was developing in the mountains of Cuba, in the great nation of Mexico—in which all Cubans saw something of their own—we experienced a fleeting but unforgettable period in which all those wonders came together in one corner of the Earth.

There would be no form or words of describing my impressions like a certain Mexican has done who, no wonder, is the person with the greatest authority to speak of the tragedy of that country, as he was the elected mayor of Mexico’s most important electoral district, that of Mexico City, capital of the Republic, and in the 2006 elections was the candidate of the “Coalition for the Good of All.”

He stood during the elections and won a majority of votes against the PAN candidate. But the empire would not allow him to assume the mandate.

Like other political leaders, I knew how Washington had drawn up the ideas of the “neoliberalism” that it sold to the countries of Latin America and the rest of the Third World as the embodiment of political democracy and economic development, but I never had such a clear idea of the way in which the empire used this doctrine to destroy and devour the wealth of such an important country, rich in natural resources and the home of an heroic people who possessed their own culture before the pre-Christian era, more than 2,000 years ago.

Andrés Manuel López Obrador, a person with whom I have never spoken or maintained a friendship, is the author of a small volume that has recently been published, and I am grateful to him for his brilliant exposé of what is happening in that sister nation. His title is The Mafia That Has Taken Over Mexico…and 2012.

I received the book four days ago, in the afternoon of August 7, after I had returned from my meeting with deputies of the National Assembly of People’s Power of Cuba. I read it with great interest. It describes the way in which the United States is totally devouring a sister nation in this hemisphere, one from which it has already snatched more than 50% of its territory, the largest high-quality gold mines, and the oil wealth that has been intensively exploited for more than one century, of which almost three million barrels are still being extracted a day. I am omitting the reference to the vast volume of gas extracted, as I am aware of the details.

In Chapter 1, he explains the extremely bizarre phenomenon of the total disappearance in Mexico of the railroad created during the time of Benito Juárez – when the first stretch from Mexico City to Veracruz was begun.

During the administration of Porfirio Díaz, it was extended by more than 20,000 kilometers, an endeavor that was subsequently and considerably expanded by the Mexican Revolution.

Today, there is a railroad that “goes from Chihuahua, Chihuahua to Los Mochis, Sinaloa. In the blink of an eye, the technocrats did away with the dreams of 19th century liberals, who saw in the railroad links the ideal way of making Mexico progress,” Obrador’s book recounts.

“Fox’ arrival in the presidency of the Republic merely served to revamp the old regime and continue with the same corruption. In reality, it concerned the six-year period of gatopardism, that maneuver via which, in all appearances, everything changes but everything stays the same. Prior to assuming the presidency, Fox subordinated himself to the international financial organizations and, obviously, continued serving the country’s tycoons. Furthermore, not only did he maintain economic policy as inalterable, but supported the same group of technocrats who had been working since the era of Salinas.”

Some pages further on, the author states, “…today, almost all the banking institutions belong to foreigners; they do not award credits to promote the country’s development, they invest in government securities, charge the highest interest rates in the world, obtain fabulous profits and are the fundamental source of the transfer of resources to their headquarters in Spain, the United States and the United Kingdom.”

“With Fox, the assets of the people and the nation continued being handed over to private companies, both national and foreign […] with Fox, the handing over of national territory for the exploitation of gold, silver and copper was extended without limits […] the Mining Act was modified in order to award unique exploration and exploitation concessions valid for up to 50 years and with the possibility of being further extended […] up to December 2008, 24,816,396 hectares had been granted, 12% of national territory and equivalent to the size of Chihuahua state, the largest in the country.”

Something truly astounding and surprising, even for those who have the worst opinion of neoliberalism, are the details that López Obrador offers in the final part of Chapter 1 of his book.

During the Fox government, he affirms: “…in 2005, during Fox-ism, the law on revenue tax was changed again, once again conceding 100% of benefits to large corporations. In order to better understand what this means, we have to bear in mind that in 2008, according to official figures, 400 large monopolies, which obtained incomes of five billion pesos—according to official figures—more than half the country’s GDP for that year—only paid 1.7% in revenue tax and business tax at a unique rate (IETU).”

“In addition, it was during the Fox government that the highest tax refunds were issued in favor of the so-called large contributors and, as is obvious, both the PRI and PAN governments have justified this fiscal sinecure with the fallacy of encouraging investment. If that was a certain fact, we would have had economic growth in the past 27 years and not the paralysis that has prevailed. At the same time, it can be demonstrated that the tax refunds are superior to the increase in private investment; in the 2001-2005 period alone, while private investment increased by 279 billion pesos, tax refunds reached 604 billion pesos; in other words, double that amount. Corruption in the upper echelons of power has been made so official that the Federal Institute of Access to Public Information (IFAI) has decided to keep secret for 12 years—until 2019—the names of companies that, in 2005, were the beneficiaries of the Tax Administration Service (SAT), having received multi-million peso tax refunds.”

Those were the exact words of Carlos Ahumada, when we arrested him in Cuba for violation of our laws. López Obrador knows them because we sent him the minutes together with the deportee Carlos Ahumada on April 28, 2004.

Without any doubt, the event constituted one of the greatest political frauds in the history of America. There are some other points that I will clarify with total precision.

In Chapter 1 itself, under the title, “The masters of Mexico”, López Obrador writes: “During the time that I was mayor of Mexico City (2000-2005), I met almost every member of this elite…”

I also share López Obrador’s opinion of Carlos Slim. I also met him. He always visited me when I went to Mexico and, on one occasion, visited me in Cuba. He gave me a television set—the most modern at that time—which I kept in my house until just one year ago. He didn’t do it with the intention of bribing me. And I never asked him for any favors either. In spite of being the richest of all of them, with a fortune in excess of $60 billion, he is an intelligent man who knows all the secrets of the stock markets and mechanisms of the capitalist system.

There would have been multimillionaires with or without Salinas, and with or without Fox, although since then, never as many as there were under the mafia that took over Mexico. López Obrador includes their names in his book and identifies the power of the mafia that took over the country.

Chapter 2 is entitled “Abandonment, corruption and poverty.” He notes the GDP of countries throughout the world during 1982-2009; he refers to China with admiration: 10.1%. Furthermore, in a separate paragraph, he mentions the GDP in 2009. He remarks that “if that were not enough—that year—Mexico occupied, in this matter, last place among all the countries on the American continent and, although it may seem incredible, we were below Haiti.”

“The technocrats have behaved like fundamentalists. Not only did they comply with the orthodoxy of international financial organizations but they transformed their recommendations into ideology.”

“Rural Mexico has been the most affected by so-called neoliberal policies. The abandonment of the countryside is dramatic. I still recall that Pedro Aspe, secretary of housing during the Salinas government, boasted that stimulating production activities in the agricultural sector was unimportant because in a globalized world, it was more economical to buy what we consume abroad.”

“The package of neoliberal policies applied to rural areas has given rise to a serious decline in the agricultural sector in relation to population growth. In the three-year period of 1980-1982 to that of 2007-2009, the agriculture, forestry and fishing GDP per inhabitant fell by 15.2%. In other words, while total food production advanced at an annual rate of 1.5%, the population of the country grew, during the periods mentioned, at a rate of 1.7% annually.”

“From 1996, oil production continued to rise until, in 2004, it reached the record figure of 1,231,145,000 barrels. Between 1996 and 2004, exports of crude rose from 563 to 683 million barrels per year. This increase coincided with the over-exploitation of the Cantarell complex which, from 2000 to 2004, increased its production from 47% to 61% of national production, becoming the oil field with the greatest output in the history of the world

“While oil extraction was increasing, proven reserves registered a resounding decrease: in 1982, these were 48.3 billion barrels; however, in 2009, they fell to 10 billion. During the period of the Fox government alone, a third of proven reserves were consumed.”

“This absurd policy also led to devastation in oil refining, and the gas and petrochemical sectors. Companies linked to these activities were deprived of resources for their expansion and upgrading. No new refineries have been built in the country since 1979. Recently, because of our movement, Calderón was forced to say that there would be one; however, two years have passed since he announced it and still not one brick has been laid.”

“And at the same time the price assigned in the United States, the most expensive in the world, was established as a reference. For that reason, we have turned into importers of gas.”

In the case of the petrochemical industry, given the lack of investment and neglect, the only thing that has been done is to reduce “the losses” of the petrochemical complexes by halting production lines.”

“…the large business and finance corporations have opted for confiscating all its revenues from Pemex. From 2000 to 2009, this company recorded accumulated sales of 8.841 trillion pesos and it paid 6.185 trillion pesos in taxes; in other words, the equivalent of 70% of its sales. …direct public investment in Pemex (not including debt) was 437 billion pesos, or 5% of its total sales.”

“Logically, starting with the adoption of neoliberal policies, the energy sector was closely linked to external interests. In this period the possibility of integrating it and utilizing it as a national development lever became even more distant, and all the neoliberal governments have maintained the idea and the intention of privatizing both the electrical and oil industries.”

“We do not accept any occupation of our territory. Mexico must continue being a free, independent and sovereign country. We do not want to turn into a colony.”

“…on that occasion I ended by reminding them of what General Lázaro Cárdenas del Río once said: ‘a government or individual that hands over national resources to foreign companies is betraying the homeland.’ However, in these times, unfortunately, corruption is stronger than patriotism.”

“One of the juiciest businesses benefiting officials and contractors has been buying gas from foreign companies. For this reason, for the technocrats, it has never been really important to extract gas or avoid it being wasted. Mexico is the oil-producing country that burns the most gas into the atmosphere.”

“These days, what most concerns the people is the lack of work. Unemployment is alarming. The decline in the job market has grown exponentially. It is estimated that one million young people enter the job market every year and the new jobs that have gradually been created in the formal economy do not even satisfy 25% of demand.”

“Even those people who have been able to hold onto their employment have incomes that do not even cover essentials. In a January 2010 investigative report, the Multidisciplinary Analysis Center attached to the UNAM Faculty of Economy maintains that 17.776 million people, who receive less than two minimum salaries and represent 41% of the economically active population, receive incomes that do not permit them to acquire a recommendable family shopping basket, taking into account nutritive, cultural and economic aspects.”

“In terms of education, the backslide is dramatic: the population aged 15 and over without a complete elementary education has reached 34% and illiteracy

stands at 9.46%, but in states with a higher degree of marginalization, like Oaxaca, Guerrero and Chiapas it has even reached 23%.”

“In Mexico, only two out of every 10 young people have access to higher education, or 20%. UNESCO has established 40-50% as a reference parameter for this level.”

“In February 2010, Dr. José Narro Robles, UNAM rector, announced that out of the 115,736 students who took the entrance examination, only 10,350 were selected: 8.9%.

“In the last 20 years, as a consequence of the abandonment of higher education on the part of the state, matriculation in private schools has grown from 16% to 37%.”

In Chapter 3 López Obrador reaffirms: “…The oligarchy, the power mafia, felt threatened and it wasn’t of any importance to them to destroy the little that had been constructed to establish democracy in Mexico.”

“Time and the reality have demonstrated that fraud caused immense damage: it wounded the sentiments of millions of Mexicans, undermined institutions, totally degraded the so-called political society…”

“Today, March 9, 2009, here in Tamazula, Durango, where Guadalupe Victoria, the first president of Mexico was born, I end my tour of the 2,038 municipalities of the party regime existing in the country. Now, all that I am missing are the 418 indigenous municipalities, in terms of habits and customs, of the state of Oaxaca, which I will visit in the last quarter of this year.”

“Over 430 days we covered 148,173 kilometers of paved and dirt roads, to reach the most isolated towns of Mexico.”

“The lack of infrastructures and basic services in the municipalities is notorious. Of the 2,038 that I visited, 108 do not have paved roads in their administrative centers. The most backward state in this aspect Oaxaca; of its 152 party regime municipalities, 36 are unpaved. It is followed by Puebla with 15; there and in the region of the Guerrero mountain, I not only confirmed the bad state of the roads; I saw that the new ones, that are just barely being built, are of such poor quality that within 12 months at most they will revert to dirt roads.”

“It is illogical that so much Coca-Cola or its equivalent is consumed…”

“I believe that this consumption of soda, calculated at one million liters per day, is fundamentally due to publicity and has become, in certain regions, a status symbol.”

“It is indispensable to eliminate the current political economy which has not even produced results in quantitative terms. Mexico is one of the countries of the world with the lowest growth in the last few years.”

“It is necessary to change the way of doing politics. This noble profession has been completely perverted. Today, politics is synonymous with deceit, elite arrangements and corruption. Legislators, leaders and public officials are removed from the sentiments of the people; the idea prevails that politics is a thing of politicians and not a concern of everyone.”

“The transformation that the country needs must not only propose to achieve economic growth, democracy, development and wellbeing. It also, and above all, implies crystallizing a new current of thought sustained on the culture of our people, on their vocation for work and on their immense generosity; adding values such as tolerance, respect for diversity and environmental protection.”

In March 2009, I concluded my tour of the 2,038 municipalities of the country’s party regime, for that reason I drafted a text called ‘‘El país desde abajo: apuntes de mi gira por México’ (The Country from Below: Notes of my Tour of Mexico). On November 20 I completed my visit to the 418 indigenous municipalities in habits and customs of the state of Oaxaca.”

“The people of Oaxaca have survived because of their culture. Their mystique of work, their talent and their strong family and community relations emanate from that culture. Their link with the land helps them to maintain an economy of self-sufficiency in food, based on the production of corn, beans and farmyard poultry, as well as coffee cultivation, making use of forests, weaving mats and hats, handicrafts and other activities. In the country’s cities, in the agricultural areas of the north and abroad, their creativity and their workforce are highly appreciated. In the United States, the Mixteca peoples have really earned their reputation of being among the best workers in the world.”

“Due to government neglect, Oaxaca is the state with the greatest poverty and marginalization in the country. And in these times they are feeling that more. Let us begin on the basis that people have three fundamental sources for sustaining themselves: an economy of self-sufficiency in food, government support and the money derived from emigration. In the first case, the principal cultivation is that of corn. This blessed plant is what ensures that they do not lack basic foods, among others, tortillas complemented with beans, chili, nopal, and which makes it possible to alleviate hunger. However, in 2009, given a delayed rainy season, the harvests were lost and they have had to buy corn.”

“Finally, the third source of income is made up of remittances, which have fallen by approximately 18% in 2009, due to the economic crisis in the United States and in our country. In 2008, Oaxaca received $1.456 billion and in 2009 it is estimated that barely $1.194 billion was obtained.”

“It broke my heart to see grown men crying while telling me of the difficult situation that they are enduring and the abandonment in which they find themselves.”

“In terms of health, neglect is also a constant. There are municipalities without a doctor and although there are first-rate clinics in the administrative centers, the doctors there only work Monday through Friday and there is a shortage of medicines everywhere.”

“In terms of education, despite the effort of pupils and teachers, the decline is apparent. The schools are neglected, with roofs in bad condition, they lack chalkboards, desks and chairs, there are classrooms built with flimsy materials. And most lamentable is that many children and adolescents walk for up to two hours to attend school and almost all of them arrive without having breakfasted.”

“In the personal context I have been painted as messianic and a lunatic. Here, I am opening a parenthesis to say that I recently took part in a series of conferences at Mexico City College and the historian Lorenzo Mayer asked me if I had thought of doing something to counteract the attacks on my person, because if in 2006 I was associated with Chávez, whom I do not know, it wasn’t too ridiculous to think that, looking toward the presidential elections of 2012, they would even reach the point of comparing me with Osama Bin Laden.”

“The campaign against us has gone so far that many have taken as read rumors that I have a lot of money and luxury residences in the country and abroad. Some people, blinded by their right wing position, and others, totally manipulated, cannot accept that I am not corrupt and that I am fighting for ideals and principles, for me the most important thing in my life.”

“However, it is a motive of pride that, in spite of their attempts to destroy us, they have not succeeded nor will they do so. Not only because we have moral authority, but because we, the women and men taking part in this fight, profess a profound love for our compatriots and, beyond treachery and in the face of all kinds of adversity, we maintain the firm conviction of constructing a more just, more humane and more egalitarian society.”

In that final chapter López Obrador notes 10 objectives as a synthesis of his political thinking:

“1. To rescue the state and place it at the service of the people and of the nation.

“2. To democratize the mass media.

“3. To create a new economy.

“4. To combat monopolistic practices.

“5. To abolish taxation privileges.

“6. To exercise politics as an ethical imperative and to put republican austerity into practice.

“7. To strengthen the energy sector.

“8. To achieve food sovereignty.

“9. To establish a welfare state.

“10. To promote a new current of thought.”

He asks: “What are we doing with the mafia?”

“…our question on what we are doing with the mafia, or rather, what we will do with the oligarchies, moves in another context and is based on our concept that Mexico’s principal problem is, precisely, the predominance of a handful of people who hold power and are responsible for the current national tragedy. And, as is evident, if we are pledged to establishing democracy and transforming the country, it is best to make it known from now what we would do with the oligarchies upon the triumph of our cause.”

“…unfortunately, what has predominated in the country is greed and making money at all costs, without moral scruples of any kind. In other words, the culture of agandalle (ruthlessly self-seeking) and the maxim that ‘he who doesn’t cheat, doesn’t advance.’”

He ends on Page 205, with the following words:

“So, the revolution of conscience to construct the new Republic is underway. The task is a sublime one, nothing in the public terrain can be more important than the renaissance of Mexico. No other activity can produce more satisfaction than that of fighting for the wellbeing of others. It is a seal of pride to live with daring and moreover, to have the good fortune of making history.”

His book is a valiant and irrefutable condemnation of the mafia who took over Mexico.

1. He does not mention the fact that a colossal drug market has been created in the United States and that its military industry supplies the most sophisticated weapons, which have converted Mexico into the first victim of a bloody war in which more than 5,000 young Mexicans are dying every year. Although I understand that a man who is incessantly touring the most isolated municipalities of the country could not tackle that matter. However, for my part, I consider it a duty to remind the Mexican people that this problem is added to the facts noted in López Obrador’s courageous condemnation.

2. Neither does he put on record the fact that climate change has become a colossal danger to the survival of the species, that it is in fact already creating extremely grave problems like the one that Russia is currently suffering, where a the number of victims of heat and smoke from the fires it is provoking in the forests and peat bogs, has more than doubled the number of people requiring funeral services in Moscow and other cities. Mexico is precisely the country where the future Climate Change Summit and many other activities related to it will take place.

3. He omits any reference to the imminent risk of a nuclear war, which could make our species disappear. However, it is fair to note that on May 24, 2010, when López Obrador completed his book, the United Nations Security Council had not adopted Resolution 1929 of June 9, 2010, ordering the inspection of Iranian merchant ships and creating a situation from which it can no longer escape.

Nevertheless, López Obrador will be the person with the greatest moral and political authority in Mexico when the system collapses and, with it, the empire. His contribution to the battle to avert President Obama unleashing that war will be of great value.

I shall continue tomorrow.

Fidel Castro Ruz
castro signature
August 11, 2010
9:53 p.m.