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Mexico: “Failed States,” New Wars, Resistance

James D. Cockcroft ( is author of Mexico’s Hope (Monthly Review Press, 1998), as well as forty-four other books. He serves on the International Organizing Committee of Networks in Defense of Humanity and the International Tribunal on Trade Union Freedom (Mexico). This article is adapted from his book Mexico’s Revolution Then and Now (New York: Monthly Review Press, 2010) along with two other forthcoming books: Intellectual Precursors of the Mexican Revolution (2010) and Precursores intelectuales en el México del siglo xxi (2010).

Death and pain for so many victims in the length and breadth of the country. Meaningless deaths for no reason. Unpunished deaths. Deaths and also—again—the whip of forced disappearances.

Rosario Ibarra, March 28, 2010

So that drugs will not get to your children…WE ARE KILLING THEM.

—(New Slogan of the Federal Government)
Censored cartoon after Mexican soldiers killed two children, April 2010

A social volcano is bubbling in Mexico. Nearly half the country’s eligible voters showed their disgust with the country’s political parties by staying away from the polls in the off-year elections of July 2010. All the major political parties have become neoliberal and corrupt. Broad-based social movements are resisting a right-wing offensive, which, building on twenty-eight years of neoliberal economic policies, has led to the country’s increasing militarization. Following the 2006 fraudulent election of Felipe Calderón,1 a reign of terror was unleashed by means of his unconstitutional, self-declared “war” ostensibly against drug cartels involved in bloody internecine strife.2

Neoliberalism’s gradual economic genocide has caused countless premature deaths and generated humiliating poverty for three-fourths of the population. Many in the intermediate classes have been pushed down into the ranks of the poor; hundreds of thousands of workers have lost their jobs, as “flex labor” and union-busting become the norm; and millions have been emigrating.3 State enterprises have been privatized, and almost everything, including humanity itself, has been converted into marketable commodities for the profits of big business. The economic agony of the masses has generated a growing resistance: guerrilla wars and local nonviolent uprisings.

Washington looks on these events with baleful eyes and oils its guns. After all, Mexico is the second trading partner of the United States and the third largest provider of the black gold to the northern giant.

U.S. Intervention

For decades, Washington has been pouring military aid into Mexico. In 2008 there were six thousand U.S. troops on the Mexican border, and in 2010 President Barack Obama decided to send more. The U.S. side of the border is militarized, as it was back before and during the Mexican Revolution of 1910-1917 and periodically since then. Drones fly routine flights over Mexican soil. In the United States, video games show American troops invading Mexico.

Remember that the United States has often sent troops and agents into Mexico. There is a long history of U.S. involvement in the internal affairs of the nation since the bloody seizure of one half of Mexico’s territory—the outcome of the imperialist war of 1846-1848.

Today the Alliance for the Prosperity and Security of North America, organized by the governments of the United States, Canada, and Mexico in 2005, serves as a militaristic weapon. The Alliance is an expansion of the Plan Puebla-Panamá of 2001 that aimed at the integration of southern Mexico with Central America and Colombia. In 2008 the Alliance was strengthened by the Merida Initiative/Plan Mexico, an international security treaty established by the United States with Mexico and Central America ostensibly to fight the narcotraffic and integrate Mexico and Central America with the Northern Command of the United States.

These plans better Washington’s chances of firming up energy security: Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, and Colombia are oil countries. The plans also make it easier for the United States, Canada, and Mexico to use their arms against both outside threats and, above all, internal opposition. They represent a new phase of contemporary imperialism.

What are the real targets of these plans for the international coordination and militarization of the struggle against supposed terrorists and narcos? The plans are aimed at immigrants, original peoples, guerrilla resistance, political dissidents, and social movements protesting transnational corporations that take over water and cause mining pollution. These plans, financed by billions of dollars, have made Mexico a security priority for the U.S. ruling class. They serve to “justify” sending U.S. personnel into Mexico to take part in intelligence operations and to tighten control over the populations of both nations.

Mexico faces a dangerous and complex situation. Obama’s government has beefed up budgets for sending down agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) along with personnel to train Mexicans in the so-called wars against narcotraffic and terrorism—wars against what Barack Obama calls, “the Evil.” Righteous citizens applaud Obama, or demand even stronger measures. Obama’s government has created a new “special force,” made up of armed people from police and intelligence agencies, that operates in the border zones.

The FBI and the DEA have offices in several Mexican cities. In February 2010, spokespeople for de facto President Calderón admitted that U.S. agents were active in Ciudad Juárez. During Calderón’s administration, the number of U.S. military contractors sent to Mexico has gone up. There are videos of U.S. contractors taking part in the torture of prisoners. These contractors have also trained Mexican police.4

In 2008 U.S. involvement in Mexico also took the form of a business enterprise called Blackwater. Exposed for its crimes against humanity in Iraq, it has since changed its name to Xe Services. The company came to “help” Calderón in his supposed war against the narcotraffic. He is fighting “the Evil,” and many church-going Mexicans thank him for saving their children from that horrible “narcotic,” cannabis.

They do not know that this war is an excuse for militarizing the nation. Only 2 percent of Mexicans read a newspaper; only 4 percent ever buy a book. Everyone has television, and the two television monopolies, Televisa and TV Azteca, known as the media “duopoly,” are under the iron control of two of the billionaires topping Mexico’s wealthy elite. The TV duopoly, a powerful propaganda machine, is a key player on the neoliberal stage, saluting Calderón’s war, spewing ultra-conservative pap, and warning about “the danger to Mexico” posed by such honest political figures as Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the real winner of the stolen 2006 presidential elections.

In January 2010, sixteen teenagers and students unrelated to the narcotraffic were murdered in Ciudad Juárez. There, in the last two years, some 4,700 people have died violently, and the murder of women remains rampant. Most of the victims have been civilians executed by paramilitary groups or military people dressed in black or wearing ski masks. In March 2010, mysterious gunmen murdered U.S. citizens associated with the U.S. consulate there.

Ciudad Juárez, the supposed “perfect model” of industrialization by means of foreign-owned maquiladoras (low-wage manufacturing assembly plants), with the cooperation of charro (corrupt) trade union leaders and their “protection contracts,” is now known as “the most violent city on earth.” There, crusader Calderón’s government is working against the Juárez drug cartel. But Calderón’s forces are secretly allied to the Sinaloa drug cartel, or at least are permitting its advance against the Juárez cartel.

The boss of the Sinaloa cartel is “El Chapo” Guzmán, a smooth talking capo who walked out of a high security prison in 2001 by bribing the guards. It cost El Chapo a bundle of bills, but he has them: Forbes magazine ranks him as one of the richest and most influential men on the planet.

El Chapo did the old Houdini act and disappeared during year one of governance by the first political party to break the seventy-one-year-long monopoly of political power held and enforced by the Partido Revolucionario Institucional. Since 2000 the new occupants of the Mexican presidency have been from the populist, church-backed Partido Acción Nacional. Its first new president was Coca-Cola millionaire Vicente Fox. Tall, handsome, mustachioed Fox wore boots and lied frequently, but always with a showman’s good-natured smile. He invited Israel’s deadly Mossad to train his secret police, the Center for Investigation and National Security that works under the Presidential Coordination Office. This was done behind the backs of the Mexican people.

Of course! “Everyone sees what you seem [to be] but few know what you are.” Machiavelli laid down this political axiom in the sixteenth century. And now, TV really does reach everyone.

The shocking new murders in 2010 justified sending more troops to Juárez—eventually fifty thousand, it is reported. The Calderón gang—I mean government—wants to finish off the Juárez drug cartel in favor of the Sinaloa cartel. The FBI says its “confidential informants linked directly to the narco gangs” believe that El Chapo is winning.5 The murders or captures of powerful capos carried out by the army—and the navy in cases like the Beltrán brothers—strengthens even more the power of El Chapo, nationally and internationally. El Chapo continues to move about Mexico, playing the “invisible man” to police dragnets. When his kind of money is flowing, nobody can see a thing.

Businessman Calderón’s popularity is sputtering like a bonfire caught in a hail storm. Under the hail of bullets from shootouts on all sides, public opinion is beginning to snarl. When el Presidente walked into an auditorium in Torreón, he was deafened by a crowd of booing citizens. The TV duopoly covering his appearance barely snuffed the sound in time.

Five transnational corporations control the U.S. mass media for imperialist interests. They say nothing or spread lies about the people’s uprisings in Mexico and the Mexican immigrants in the United States.6 The U.S. government is focusing its gun sights on the rising Mexican opposition. Uncle Sam wants control over Mexican oil, minerals, uranium, water, and biodiversity. And he wants to keep that cheap immigrant labor cheap. So he works with the Mexican business elite and its government. The elite loves Uncle Sam like kids love Santa Claus. The elite’s Business Coordinating Council of big capitalists is crying for more aid in fighting the cartels. And the aid is pouring in. It does not come in a reindeer sleigh, mind you, but as Blackhawk helicopter gunships that spit fire and death.

In February 2010, Dennis Blair, then U.S. Director of National Intelligence, condemned the cartels and the violence in Mexico and Central America as the result of “failed states.” Basic security is undermined, he said, and instability marked by crime, corruption, and “ingovernability” is growing.7 In the same fashionable language, Obama has warned that the struggle against violent extremism involves diffuse enemies, unstable regions, and “failed states.”8 Other high officials in the U.S. government and its armed forces blather a lot about “failed states.” These states are bleeding to death, we are told, and only a transfusion of military intervention can save them. Good old Uncle Sam then appears as a humanitarian white-coated doctor, leading a caravan of arms donors, contractors with torture needles, and flying gunships painted with a red cross.

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has named Mexico and Pakistan the two most unstable nations in the world—they can melt down any minute. They are “failed states.” So, in 2009, Obama appointed his new ambassador to Mexico, Carlos Pascual, an expert in “nation-building” and in “failed states.” Carlos is a Cuban American. He has twenty-seven years of experience in Africa, Eastern Europe, Eurasia, the Middle East, and in conflict situations in Latin American and Caribbean nations including Haiti. In the State Department, Carlos Pascual was head of the Office of Reconstruction and Stabilization, which its critics call the U.S. Colonial Office. One of these critics is Naomi Klein, who describes Pascual as an expert in shock therapy for “failed states.” Pascual arrived in Mexico City to begin coordination of the Binational Office of Intelligence. Crawling around in this pit are officers of the Pentagon, the DEA, the FBI, the CIA, and other critters of the U.S. intelligence community.9

The Mexican government is not a “failed” state. It is, rather, a state of “failed law.” It is not a failed state because it carries out well the tasks assigned to it in the empire’s design. All Washington’s propaganda backs up the militarization of Mexico in order to protect the interests of transnational corporations and foreign banks.

The militarization is a revival of the “dirty war” of the l970s, especially in the states of Chiapas, Oaxaca, Guerrero, and Michoacán. The dirty war is furthered by the presence of narco thugs and unemployed youth who, in some parts of the nation, work with top police and military officers. But there is another difference between now and the 1970s. Internationally renowned Mexican Senator Rosario Ibarra, famed for her outspoken defense of human rights, has pointed out that the murdered and disappeared are not only opposition figures and social movement activists but also “the civilian population unrelated to any political or social conflict or the narcotraffic….The majority…are executions of the civilian population, of youth, both men and women, and of the poor.”10

Every rise in the number of deaths permits the military and Calderón to roar that they are “winning the war.” Meanwhile, the number of assassinations and disappearances of human rights activists, left-leaning political figures, journalists, and social movement and labor activists has escalated in recent months—all with impunity, of course. Hardly ever is an assassin or kidnapper “found,” much less charged!

Amnesty International and experts on Mexico observe that the military often does as it pleases and is moving out of control. In fact, the army controls large regions of the country. In some regions, the army is taking control in alliance with some narco groups and, in other regions, the army is in competition with other narco groups.11

Calderón sent a proposed political reform to the congress in February 2010 that would give the army the right to enter homes without warrants and arrest anyone on suspicion. Soldiers who shoot civilians “by mistake” under these rules could not be tried in civilian courts. Since some of the soldiers are frightened recruits who are pushed into risky situations, they often shoot first and ask questions later. Bloodied civilian corpses are already stacked high: “collateral damage” in the so-called war against drugs. Countless families mourn. They learn, too late, not to believe what TV tells them. Social rage ferments. General Guillermo Galván, Secretary of Defense, has called for Mexican armed forces to support Calderon’s reform altering the rules on the use of force by the military against the civilian population—a possible indication of a civilian-military dictatorship in the process of formation.

What is happening? Is a civilian-military dictatorship emerging? There is always the chance of a military coup in Mexico and, judging by the experience of the coup in Honduras, the empire would give it a subtle welcome. But there is another opinion. Some retired Mexican military men think that a few generals and admirals and an unknown number of soldiers are still uncorrupted and patriotic enough to believe in a more democratic system. The presence of elements in the military that actually defend democracy rather than undermining it under such circumstances is not unknown in the history of Latin America.

The problem of narcotraffic has to do not only with militarization, bad government, or “failed states.” Washington’s decades of all-out campaigns against narcotraffic in Colombia and Mexico, in Bolivia and Afghanistan, and in the United States itself, have repeatedly ended in failure. All the experts say so. You catch a capo and another takes his place; you knock out a drug route to the United States and other routes open up; the forbidden but highly profitable stuff is in the merchandise flowing north under free trade. There are “mules” willing to hide drugs on their persons. A family passed from Mexico into Laredo with a white plastic Christ in the back seat, and sniffing dogs barked. It turned out to be a coke Jesus.

Yes, endless failure. But haven’t the repressive campaigns really succeeded? They enrich (mainly U.S.) bankers through secret arrangements to launder drug money, while recycling phenomenal amounts of dirty money into many sectors of the legitimate economy. They also keep up huge profits in the international drug market for the exporting countries and their governments, a large part of which is recycled into the international arms market for the benefit of mostly U.S. arms manufacturers. The United States sells more weapons than all the other arms-producing countries put together. It is the arsenal of death.12

The “failures” of the campaigns against the narcotraffic help to justify war, state violence, and massive repression in whole societies. The “war against drugs” sponsored by Washington and its allies has nothing to do with “national security” or ending the drug traffic.

How can you end it? There is an enormous demand in the nation that has the highest consumption of illegal drugs on earth. Here, the United States is Numero Uno! And do you think the growers, laboratory operators, packagers, stockers, transporters, dealers, capos, and money launderers will ever renounce their profits? In Mexico, even the military, the police, and the politicos are in on the take.13

The “war on drugs” has everything to do with profits—and with the forging of strategic alliances against democratic anti-imperialist governments such as those in Venezuela, Ecuador, and Bolivia. The key alliance for the United States in Latin America is the chain of neoliberal governments on the Pacific Coast: Chile, Peru, Colombia, all of Central America (except Nicaragua where Washington is fomenting a “failed state”), and Mexico. The chain is made of iron: each government is an enemy of its people.

There is legislation cooking in the Mexican Congress that would permit foreign troops on national territory. The United States has already set up seven new military bases in Colombia, and there is a bilateral agreement to put five more in Panama. There are U.S. bases in almost all the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean. Have you ever heard of Aruba or Curaçao, island nations once colonized by the Dutch, near Venezuela’s oil fields? There are bases there too. There are plans for creating a “multinational, multifunctional military base” with Brazil in Rio de Janeiro “in order to patrol the drug traffic of the region.” Official documents of the U.S. Air Force have proclaimed that the new military bases “expand the capacity for expeditionary war…[guaranteeing] the opportunity for conducting complete spectrum operations in all South America…[to combat] the anti-American governments in the region.”14

Since June 2008, the U.S. Navy’s Fourth Fleet, with high-tech and nuclear arms, has been patrolling the coasts and major rivers of Latin America and the Caribbean. U.S. mercenaries, Pentagon intelligence, bases, fleets, drones—the U.S. military threat rears up over the region like a huge cobra, eyeing the oil of Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, and Brazil. From these five countries and Canada, the United States gets half its energy. (Communist Cuba has recently discovered oil too, and Uncle Sam is less than amused that he can’t get a bit of it because of his own illegal and genocidal fifty-year economic embargo and terrorist campaign against the “heroic island.”)

In the last week of March 2010, top government officials from Mexico and Washington met in Mexico City to discuss the terrifying violence in Ciudad Juárez and to work out a strategy supposedly to control it. In this second, binational high-level meeting, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton admitted that the U.S. demand for drugs and the arms smuggled into Mexico from the United States were feeding the violence of the cartels. So both governments proclaimed a “new stage” in the war on drugs. The lip service around eventual social programs did not hide the increase in military aid, which constituted the essential part of the glitzy new “Plan Juárez.” No one knew what had been agreed upon in secret.

Yes, another Plan! This one means Uncle Sam will stuff the pockets of the Mexican government with $300 million. It aims to strengthen the Merida Initiative/Plan Mexico and the Northern Command’s control over Mexico. The new American Ambassador to Brazil has called this military integration “armoring NAFTA” and so, in effect, acknowledges that behind the “war on drugs” lies the aim of protecting the economic interests of big capital in the era of neoliberalism.15

After the second high-level meeting, during an interview for Televisa, U.S. Ambassador Pascual boasted about Calderón’s military strategy, saying “we designed it together.” Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano admitted that, at Calderón’s “request,” members of the U.S. Army work in Mexico in a “limited” way as military intelligence personnel.

Calderón is throwing away national sovereignty by integrating Mexico with the United States. What is sovereignty? The word means where the power is. Much of the political power has flown from Mexico City all the way to the White House.

Here is the evidence and—you guessed it—another Plan! In fourteen documents, recently declassified by the Presidency of the Republic about “Plan Mexico 2030, Project of Great Vision,” are the details of thematic workshops convoked by Calderón in October 2006. Plan Mexico 2030, says political scientist Gilberto López y Rivas, violates the 1917 Mexican Constitution and guarantees the future “integral occupation of the country” by the United States. The Plan calls for the privatization of the energy sector, biosphere reserves, education, social security for state employees, and other public services. It calls for the repression and cooptation of social movements. López y Rivas maintains that the plan is inspired by imperialism and that Mexicans confront a “social war” disguised as a fight against narcotraffic. The aim of the plan and the dominant political class, according to López y Rivas, “is to finish off the Mexican state.” Journalist Carlos Fazio adds that what is happening in Mexico is a “low intensity war that combines intelligence work, civic action, psychological war and control of the population….The center of gravity is no longer the battlefield as such, but rather the social-political arena.”16

The Present Situation and the People’s Resistance

In Mexico galloping privatization is overrunning the energy sector. Nationalist forces are resisting. Who leads them? The independent electrical workers union, the miners, some independent oil workers, university students and workers, and a breakaway union of schoolteachers. These workers also back popular struggles against the “reform” of the labor laws. The “labor reform” would take away basic trade-union rights and open the door to unlimited super-exploitation of the Mexican people.

Calderón and his secretary of labor have launched an all-out war on these workers in violation of the constitution and national and international laws. At midnight on October 10, 2009, soldiers and police seized the state enterprise Central Light and Power. They threw the forty-four thousand electrical workers into the street. They also seized Central Light’s fiber optic network, which later was sold to an international telecommunications consortium of Televisa, Telefónica, and Megacable.

Then, on June 6, 2010—anniversary of the 1906 massacre of copper miners in Cananea, near the Arizona border, that triggered armed revolts leading to the Mexican Revolution of 1910-1917—the fully-armed Federal Preventive Police (PFP) seized Cananea’s mines after beating and arresting countless unarmed miners and members of their families. Earlier in the region, twelve hundred striking Cananea miners of the national Sindicato de Mineros had nonviolently resisted PFP occupations of their communities and cutoffs of their water and electricity. In their protest of unsafe mine conditions that, in the last three years, have caused the deaths of more than two hundred miners nationally, the Cananea miners were challenging the criminal negligence record of the nation’s largest mining corporation, Grupo Mexico.17

The union-busting offensive has provoked a wave of large street demonstrations. Estimates run as high as three hundred thousand protestors. There have been road blocks, seizures of toll gates, refusals to pay electric bills, hunger strikes, propaganda brigades, student walkouts, university stoppages, national work slowdowns, strikes, and hastily convened assemblies of popular resistance. Because the year 2010 is the Centenary of the Mexican Revolution, some leaders and workers are calling for a new revolution, or at least obedience to labor laws and the Constitution of 1917.

On May Day 2010, Mexico City’s huge downtown plaza, “the Zócalo,” filled to overflowing, as angry protestors and speakers condemned the “fascist” government, neoliberalism, U.S. imperialism, and the new “terrorist” and racist law against Mexican immigrants in Arizona. Dozens of fired electrical workers were camped out in the Zócalo on a hunger strike. The mass media blacked that news out, as TV ironically continued to blare its hyped coverage of the death of one lone hunger striker in “the Castro brothers’ dungeon.”

Mexico’s hunger strikes, protests, assemblies, sit-ins, and debates go on. The civic resistance has been nonviolent, disciplined, and organized. So police and military forces have carried out acts of repression and attempted to provoke demonstrators to at least throw a stone at a car or bank window, or even at them! TV, of course, reports it much differently.

There are a dozen guerrilla groups operating in Mexico but they are small and divided. During this period of popular protests, they have done no shooting. All resistance is peaceful…for the moment.

Many demonstrators see Calderón as “the illegitimate President.” They accuse him of treason for having turned the soldiers into an “army of occupation,” obeying Washington’s strategies through its dastardly Plans. Some describe Calderón as the “most visible figure of the mafia” who is trying to create a military-police state as in a coup d’état or a military police-state Colombian style. This style includes the participation of capos in the administration of society, not as “a parallel state” or a “state within the state,” but as an integral part of the state. As Calderón himself has recognized, in some parts of Mexico, narco kingpins charge taxes, impose laws and curfews, and build public support with their neighborhood social service projects.18

Accompanying civic resistance is the protest movement by Mexican immigrants in the United States. Between one and two hundred thousand went to Washington, D.C., on March 21, 2010, to demand their basic rights. And on May Day 2010, more than one million of them, along with civil rights activists, marched in eighty U.S. cities—two hundred fifty thousand in Los Angeles alone.

Why mention Mexican immigrants? One out of five Mexican workers lives and toils in the United States. These immigrants face state terrorism: racist attacks, arbitrary arrests, illegal raids of their workplaces and communities, outright murder by U.S. Border Patrol agents, and destruction of their families through the deportation of parents of U.S.-born children. Since 1993 more than six thousand Mexicans have died in the southern border area of the United States. During Obama’s administration, four hundred thousand immigrants a year have been thrown out of the country, and in 2010 the number has been skyrocketing. Immigration and Customs Enforcement maintains 186 secret detention centers for immigrants.19

The record of human rights violations in both countries is frightening. Some organizations that have cited the thousands of violations by Mexican authorities during Calderón’s administration include: Amnesty International, Americas Watch, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, and the U.S. State Department. All their reports condemn the Mexican military for the use of torture, raping women, murdering civilians, and shameless corruption.20

The new popular protests are mainly defensive, however much spiced by calls for a “revolutionary offensive,” a “Constituent Assembly,” and “national sovereignty.” Right now, the correlation of forces does not favor human liberation. In Mexico, the Internet publication El Activista Regional explains it like this: there is not yet “a clear vision of the road to follow in order to realize the immense potential of the country,” and there is “a deep crisis in the capability for action by the society and its organizations.”

Why is this? There is a long history of corrupt unions and men-on-the-make in the political world, combined with clientelism and cooptation. There are divisions in the Mexican left and many defeats. There are deep currents of conservatism and apolitical behavior in the traditional society. There has been criminalization of social movements with ever more killing of youth, leading to the introduction of the term “youthicide.” There has been violence and terrorism against women and homosexuals. There is a climatic catastrophe of polluted cities and poisoned water. There is an ongoing economic crisis: working people continue their grim struggle to stay alive. They have little time for political activism. Many Mexicans know that the Revolution of 1910-1917 cost the lives of a sixth of the population—they shrink from violent action.

Calderón’s violence against people in his “war on narcos” and the economic suffering of most of the population are starting to work against him: the government policy of installing fear may be backfiring, as popular resistance continues. As the saying goes, “If you risk nothing, you gain nothing.” Better to risk yourself in struggle to change the system than to hang on with no money in the middle of daily murders.

Of course, there is defeatism in the society expressed in cynical remarks like “It would be better for the United States to annex us now.” But you never know at what moment the creation of fear in a society will turn into an expansion of rage and rebellion—an explosion of “popular power” organized from below. Remember that, despite many years of military dictatorship followed by years of limited civilian democracy, the population of Argentina took to the streets in 2002 and the workers took over the factories. Or remember that in Honduras in 2009, the people poured into the streets to resist the coup and on May Day 2010 swarmed the capital city with five hundred thousand to seven hundred thousand peaceful marchers under the banner “With Popular Unity to the Final Victory.”

With or without such sudden turning points, the struggle in Mexico will be long and hard. This fight demands the coordination of workers, peasants, students, women, LGBT activists, Indians, school teachers, state doctors and nurses, the urban poor, small business people, eco-activists, and, of course, the civil rights movement, led by immigrants in the United States.

The key words are internationalism and unity, signs of which are beginning to appear.

Los pueblos unidos jamás serán vencidos. (The peoples united will never be defeated.)


  1. Evidence showed that Andrés Manuel López Obrador received from half a million to two million more votes than Felipe Calderón, the “official” winner, by an announced margin of 0.58 percent. In 1988 a similar fraud occurred, the ballots were burned, and top election officials later acknowledged the fraud.
  2. According to the Secretariat of National Defense, by mid-February 2010, half of the army, some one hundred thousand soldiers, was patrolling urban and rural areas. The soldiers are not defending the nation against invading armies, they are killing Mexicans. Statistics, photographs, and eyewitness reports show that the majority of the victims in this war are innocent civilians. By late 2010, there were more than thirty thousand dead and more than seven thousand disappeared and twenty thousand jailed.
  3. “Intermediate classes” is a more accurate term than “the middle class,” as explained in James D. Cockcroft, Mexico’s Hope (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1998), 50-54, passim.
  4. Kevin Martinez and Rafael Azul, “Mexican torture videos reveal ties with US military contractors,” July 11, 2008; Eva Gollinger, “Los asesinos al lado,” Rebelión, 16 December 2009.
  5. La Jornada, April 10, 2010.
  6. The five corporations are Time Warner, Disney, News Corporation (of the Australian-American Rupert Murdoch), Bertelsmann (of Germany), and Viacom (ex-CBS).
  7. Cited in Correspondencia de Prensa, February 6, 2010. Blair also said that U.S. citizens in other countries can be killed by the U.S. government, a policy later confirmed by President Obama. See Jason Ditz, “US Govt Can Kill Citizens Overseas As Part of a ‘Defined Policy,’” February 3, 2010,
  8. Tariq Ali, “President of Cant,” New Left Review, January 25, 2010. For an explanation of imperialism’s use of the concept “failed state,” see David Sogge, “Something Out There: State Weakness as Imperial Pretext,” in Achin Vanaik, ed., Selling US Wars (Northampton, MA: Olive Branch Press, 2007).
  9. See Carlos Fazio, “La visita,” La Jornada, April 5, 2010; Naomi Klein, “The Rise of Disaster Capitalism,” The Nation, April 15, 2005; “US Ambassador to Mexico: Who Is Carlos Pascual?” May 13, 2009,
  10. Rosario Ibarra, “No hay derechos humanos sin las luchas de los pueblos, ni éxito para la lucha popular sin defensa de los derechos humanos,” Enlace Socialista, March 28, 2010,
  11. Gilberto López y Rivas, Las fuerzas armadas mexicanas a fin del milenio: los militares en la coyuntura actual (México, Cámara de Diputados, 1999); Cockcroft, 340-45.
  12. See Cockcroft, Mexico’s Hope, 335-45, especially 336. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 85 percent of narcotraffic profits in cocaine from South America to the United States remain in the USA,
  13. The collusion between key capos and high government officials is no secret. Former President Miguel de la Madrid has said his successor Carlos Salinas de Gortari (1988-1994) had intimate links with the narcos. Another example is Mexico’s head of the “anti-drug war,” General Jesús Gutiérrez Rebollo, who was detained in 1997 for having protected the Juárez Cartel. Today there are accusations of similar narco-corruption against Genaro García Luna, head of the Public Security Secretariat, responsible for the PFP, so infamous for its brutal repression of social movements and rapes of women prisoners.
  14. Eva Gollinger, “EEUU planea nuevas bases militares en Brasil y Perú para contener a Venezuela,” Also see O estado de São Paulo, March 31, 2010. After the coup in Honduras, a new naval base was built on the Caribbean coast of Honduras.
  15. Cited in Greg Grandin, “Muscling Latin America,” The Nation, February 8, 2010. See also James D. Cockcroft, México: Momento Histórico Decisiones 2006 (México, Universidad Autónoma de la Ciudad de México, 2006), Mexico’s Hope, 335-45, “Mexico’s Crisis in Context of Latin America’s Challenge to Imperialism” (2006), available at
  16. Gilberto López y Rivas, in Contralínea, 176 (April 4, 2010). See also Nancy Flores, “Plan México 2030: desmantelar la seguridad social,” and Fazio, “La visita.”
  17. The owner is Germán Larrea, Mexico’s third richest man and the world’s seventy-second most wealthy individual. He is one of those responsible for the death of sixty-five miners in “an accident” (industrial homicide) February 19, 2006 at the Pasta de Conchos mine in Coahuila. On the day the PFP seized the Cananea mines, police forcibly removed family members of the killed miners from access to Pasta de Conchos, and shortly afterwards sealed the mine so that the miners’ remains and other evidence could never be retrieved. In Mexico, the few union leaders who defend labor rights are often falsely accused of crimes, as in the case of Napoleón Gómez Urrutia, leader of the Sindicato de Mineros. The government illegally replaced him with a charro leader in 2006, and he left Mexico in 2007 to continue his leadership from Vancouver, Canada. For more on the repression of the shrinking labor unions (now less than 15 percent of the labor force), see the Web site of civil society’s International Tribunal on Trade Union Freedom, on which I serve, and
  18. Cf. Jorge Camil, “El narco, un Estado paralelo,” La Jornada, April 16, 2010, and note 13 above.
  19. Jacqueline Stevens, “America’s Secret ICE Castles,” The Nation, December 16, 2009; James D. Cockcroft, “Immigration, Family Destruction and Terrorism,” available at
  20. Mike Whitney, interview with Laura Carlsen, director of Americas Policy Program in Mexico City, Global Research, December 24, 2009,
2010, Volume 62, Issue 06 (November)
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