Mexico Subdued by the Empire
March 4, 2010
Washington backed Felipe Calderon, a neo-liberal of the Bush variety, in the 2006 presidential elections in Mexico. According to public opinion polls he was way behind his rival A.M. Lopez Obrador, Mexico City mayor who had successfully implemented socially oriented programs in healthcare, education, and residential construction. G. Bush's Administration had to realize that, if elected, Obrador would be brought to the camp of H. Chavez by the very logic of the political development. Washington perceived the emergence of a “Bolivarian” alliance spanning from Mexico to Patagonia as a threatening perspective that required decisive response.
Obrador was stripped of his victory. The truth about the operation carried out by the US and Mexican elites will not become known any time soon, but even fragmentary revelations that broke through the barriers erected by US media leave no doubts that the independence of Mexico is growing increasingly mythical. The deal to oust Obrador turned it into a country under external administration, and Calderon – into a politician accountable to the US. A renown demagogue, he episodically does criticize the US, but this changes little in the overall picture.
A politically correct reader might find the claim concerning Calderon's “accountability” offensive, but, sadly, this is a recurrent phenomenon in the US-Mexican relations. The trend surfaced in the 1950ies and is reflected in academic studies of the CIA activity and in the memoirs published by US spies. One of the latter, Winston Scott, boasted that three Mexican presidents had been on his payroll.
This year Mexico is going to celebrate the centennial of its revolution, which should be an appropriate occasion to formulate certain conclusions. The key question in connection with the date is: with what results did the country enter the XXI century? Are the results consonant with the ideals of the great Mexicans Hidalgo, Morelos, Madero, Zapata, Villa, Cardenas and others? And finally, are Mexicans satisfied with the current situation in their country?
Calderon says the celebration should proceed without unrest and should mark the starting point of a profound transformation leading to unity based on democracy and equality. In his view, no traces of class struggle can be discerned in the last century of Mexico's history – it was made not by “angels or demons” but by people with their strengths, weaknesses, and great ideals. Calderon calls not to focus on negative facts from the past but to pay due attention to past achievements. The academic circles were instructed accordingly – to analyze the history of Mexico without myths, prejudice, and omissions. The recommendation amounts to an offer to rewrite the country's history in line with neo-liberal views, dropping the facts that do not fit into the scheme.
It is going to be difficult for Mexicans not to focus on negative facts under the current circumstances. The Mexican economy was hit heavily by the global economic crisis that spread from the US. Mexico's integration with the Empire via NAFTA is nearly total and the developments in the US affected it directly. Mexico suffered from the global economic nosedive more than any other Latin American country due to the irresponsible course of its elite aimed at reckless integration with the US. The reliance on the rich and generous northern neighbor is proving a short-sighted strategy as the US is preoccupied with getting itself out of crisis. US companies seize every opportunity – including those opened by NAFTA – to ease their burden at the expense of Mexico.
Calderon and his neo-liberal team find themselves in a difficult situation and have to sacrifice to the US the last of what Mexico has at its disposal: they are boosting the privatization in the oil and electric power sectors. Mexico's progress used to be propped up by the revenues from hydrocarbon fuel export since the 1938 nationalization of foreign-owned assets by president Lazaro Cardenas and the creation of a strong state-owned sector of the national economy. The list of the country's accomplishments included a radical agrarian reform and a democratization of public education.
The late 1990ies saw massive and clearly orchestrated media campaigns lambasting the state-owned sector of the Mexican economy. The ideas were not exactly innovative – the media portrayed it as inefficient, stagnant, and badly needing an infusion of modern private management and foreign investments. It was maintained that US banks would not switch to more active investment policies as long as they had to deal with such “archaic and hopeless” partners as Mexico's state-run companies. The neo-liberal propaganda pretended not to notice Mexico's past achievements on a different track.
Proponents of state stewardship in Mexico are trying to defend their positions but increasing numbers of them are moving over to the camp of the assertive neo-liberals: these days pragmatism seems to be the prevalent creed. President Calderon is strict about the obligations to his patrons – he assists the uprooting of the economic basis of Mexico's statehood and helps the US to subdue the country.
Mexicans are persistently taught to believe that the country's state-run oil company PEMEX is unprofitable and should be privatized as quickly as possible, with US money being admitted to the process. The whole idea looks strange given the rising oil price on the global market. Similar “analysis” is targeting the electric power sector in which the government has already started closing major companies. The suggested logic is primitive: privatization will reinvigorate the sector, revenues will grow, tariffs will go down, consumers will be happy, and bureaucracy will shrink.
Mexicans do know from experience how new owners run privatized enterprises. They ruthlessly “optimize” the staff and operate technical facilities regardless of technical limitations to maximize revenues. When the facilities begin to crumble, private proprietors start begging for state subventions on the grounds that their companies play important roles in the national economy.
Will Mexicans allow this to happen to their oil and electric power assets? The resistance to privatization is mounting. The oil sector is actively defending itself. The electric power industry trade union is fighting against personnel cuts. Over 44,000 protesters who had lost their jobs put tents at the El Zokalo square in Mexico City. They are determined to continue struggling despite the threat of repressions from Calderon and the business who believe “social peace” should be ensured across the country, if necessary by force.
It is getting increasingly clear that Calderon plans to use the police and army forces not only to fight drug cartels but also to suppress mass protests which are gaining momentum in the forms of strikes, marches, rallies, and road blockades in various parts of Mexico.
According to CEPAL statistics, Mexico is the region's only country where extreme poverty grew over the past several years. In 2008, 37 mln Mexicans (35% of the population) lived in poverty. Socioeconomic indicators exhibited negative dynamics in 2009 as the unemployment reached 10%. In the past, a lot of Mexicans used to find jobs in the US, but now G. Bush's and B. Obama's anti-migration measures largely made the corresponding options nonexistent under the pretext of war on terror and the ferocious struggle against drug cartels in Mexico. The latter took 20,000 lives over the past three years. CIA and Pentagon analysts regard it as a potential scenario that the war will destabilize Mexico to the point of spilling over to the southern states of the US. In this case Obama's Administration will be confronted with the problems created by the forced relocation of hundreds of thousands if not millions of Mexicans to the US. Precedents of likewise migration can be found in the history of the continent: the drug war in Columbia led to the flight of 4 mln of its citizens to Venezuela, Ecuador, Brazil, and other countries. Mexican-US drug cartels are strong enough to unleash serious local wars in the border regions. Their potential is comparable to that of the Talibs in Afghanistan and northern regions of Pakistan. To prevent the materialization of the scenario, the Pentagon and the US intelligence community are retraining their Mexican colleagues for broad offensives against drug guerrillas and for “cleanings” in Sinaloa, Michoacan, Guerrero, Baja California, etc. Urban combat is known to be a part of the training program.
Mexican commentator Pedro Echeverria (aporrea.org, February 26, 2010) says the US is bracing for a step-by-step establishment of police and military control over Mexico. The border zone will be militarized at the initial phase of the process, and then US bases will start to proliferate across Mexico under the pretext of assisting the friendly country in the fight against drug cartels, left extremists, and various terrorist groups. The Pentagon, the CIA, and other US intelligence agencies have for years been studying the territory where the activity might unfold. They have an array of scenarios which are adjusted on a regular basis and await implementation.
Echeverria deems it possible that Mexico can come under full military occupation in case Washington concludes that a serious threat to the US national security is emanating from its territory.