Dispatches from Mexico: The U.S. At the Point of Decision

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Dec. 3, 2014 (San Diego) Mexico is fast becoming what it once was that is a dictablanda. The short trist by Mexicans with democracy is coming fast to an end. The latest actions by the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI), the Partido de Accion Nacional (PAN) and the Partido Vede Ecologista de Mexico (PVEM) is essentially the suspension of peaceful marches.

The right to assemble is a basic human right, first enshrined in the United States Bill of Rights. It was one of those features of the Enlightenment that have survived. It is also enshrined in the United Nations Convention on Human Rights. It was until recently part of the Mexican Constitution. In a recent vote, the Congress decided to make marches contingent on whether they are dangerous or not, essentially criminalizing civil engagement and free speech. After all, who determines what march is dangerous? The state does, and given the tens of thousands of people who have come to the streets to peacefully demand the president of Mexico step down, those marches are likely to be deemed dangerous.

The Mexican Congress is quickly reverting to the totalitarian iron fisted way of running Mexico. They have voted to suspend the rights of people to peacefully assemble and demonstrate in the streets. This is not all of the parties, The Partido de la Revolution Democratica (PRD) came out against this. The PRD is a left wing party, and ironically has been weakened in it’s protestations since the Mayor of Iguala ran on the PRD plank.

Ricardo Mejia of Coyuntura Ciudadana, another left of center organization, told La Jornada “En la coyuntura política y social que vive el país, este dictamen es inoportuno. La reforma bien puede utilizarse como una coartada para la represión y frenar el legítimo derecho del pueblo a manifestarse, al libre tránsito. Estamos ante la previsible contradicción entre dos derechos constitucionales, el de tránsito y el de movilidad”

“In this political and social moment that the country lives, this is inopportune. This reforme can be used for repression and to slow down the legitimate right of the people to manifest itself, the free transit of people We are before the predicable conflict of two rights that of free movement and assembly.”

Still, this is a moment where we would expect the United States Government to break its silence regarding Mexico. So far, Washington has said nothing of what is happening in Mexico, well, except for a letter sent from Senators to the State Department where they expressed their fears that things are starting to get out of control. After all, we are the champions of democracy and as such laws that subvert the independence of municipal governments and the right to assemble and petition the government should be alarming to DC.

Yet, the silence is deafening It is like nothing is happening. Or at least nothing that is of concern to the administration of President Barack Obama. Perhaps Washington prefers what is going on in Mexico. For all we know, this is good for business. Yet, the disappearance of the students near Iguala, and the army executing people at Tlataya, State of Mexico are but the tip of an iceberg, What we are seeing is the emergence of a totalitarian state where neoliberal reforms are easier to carry out.

The Obama administration seems to have little to say anything about the events in Mexico. What would be at risk? Perhaps, if the demands of the streets in Mexico succeed, North American Free Trade Agreement will be at risk, as well as Transpacific Partnership. The people, on both sides of the border, are tired of neoliberal reforms that are transforming both economies into the play ground of the very rich. The events in Iguala are the straw that broke that camel’s back as far as Mexico is concerned.

We also have high levels of corruption, which again, seem to be a topic of non-discussion in Washington. There is serious impunity for police forces in Mexico; There is a feeling that perhaps we are avoiding this topic as well, since it brings a mirror to what is happening in the United Sates. We gave seen this now in both Ferguson Missouri, and New York City.

The U.S. Government does not want to say a thing. President Enrique Pena Nieto promised the opening of large swaths of the Mexican economy, in particular the energy sector, to foreign investment. This the United States does not want to risk. So silence is consent.

At one point Enrique Castaneda wrote how distant these two neighbors were. The cultures are different, we were told, and there were many misunderstandings at the highest levels of government. I am starting to wonder if this silence means that these distant neighbors have become very close and we are seeing a convergence of goals.

This is a historic moment and the U.S. cannot stay silent. Or rather, the U.S. Should not stay silent.

So why should Americans care? After all, we know that many in this country really are not paying attention to what is happening in the country, let alone events south of the border? Mexico is at a very dangerous point. The repression that is starting could lead to political refugees moving north. It could also lead to a social explosion not seen since 1910. Either of these will mean the end of the business as usual, nothing to see here, attitude because we will not be able to ignore it.

Those of us who live in the border region will be the first to notice, there is no doubt in my mind. Changes are afoot, The only question is how long? The words of President John F. Kennedy are very appropriate right now: “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”

Nadin Abbott holds a Masters Degree in Mexican History from San Diego State University

Twitter: @nadinbrzezinski

Facebook: Reporting San Diego

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Categories: analysis, Ayotzinapan, Dispatches from Mexico, Ferguson, Mexico

1 reply

  1. With no further, today’s comments from the US Department of State

    QUESTION: Yeah. I just had a follow-up to the question yesterday about Mexico and the recent protests and whether the U.S. is reviewing Mexico’s human rights standing as a result of the disappearances we’ve seen in the last few months.

    MS. HARF: Well, a couple of points on that, and I did get a little bit on this for you. You know we’ve condemned the disappearance of the 43 students. We’ve continued to call on the Mexican Government to quickly and thoroughly investigate the crime and bring those culpable to justice, and they have been doing so. We welcome the steps they’ve taken to date. They’ve arrested more than 70 individuals suspected of involvement in the crime. The president in a November 27th address outlined a plan to address in large part some of these issues.

    In terms of our review, I got you a little bit on this as well. Approximately every two years, we send to Congress a review, a required 15 percent report to Congress for the fiscal year that allows us to obligate funds for assistance based on human rights issues. We submitted that required report on September 19th, and there aren’t plans to revisit that. We constantly revisit it as part of the natural procedures here.

    QUESTION: There’s a number of people on the Hill have questioned that procedure on the basis that very soon after that September determination, obviously we had the disappearance of these 43 students. But there were cases before that allegedly involving the army and people being decapitated and found dead on the streets. And there’s enormous concern that the U.S. is not taking these issues seriously enough. Beyond simply condemning the incidents themselves, can you address any more what the U.S. view of the political backdrop here is?

    MS. HARF: Well – uh-huh, a couple points. The first is that there is a process in place in terms of our aid to Mexico that we have to every two years review this, and we take that process very seriously. We have a human rights dialogue that’s ongoing with Mexico. This is an annual, bilateral dialogue that addresses a wide range of these topics, and I think the next one will be early next year. So we raise concerns when we have them. I would certainly not agree with the notion that we don’t raise human rights concerns – we clearly do.

    We have a very important relationship with Mexico. We think the Mexican Government, in this case particularly, has moved quickly to investigate it thoroughly. It’s a tough challenge, though, and we’ll keep working with them on it.

    QUESTION: Just one last thing: Do you think it is likely to come up at that next discussion early next year?

    MS. HARF: This specific case?

    QUESTION: Yes.

    MS. HARF: I don’t – it’ll happen early next year. I’m just not sure. I suspect it may, but we don’t have to wait for the dialogue to raise these issues either. We are in constant communication with our Mexican counterparts about human rights issues separate from the dialogue.

    QUESTION: Thank you.

    http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2014/12/234657.htm#MEXICO

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