The Internationalist  
  June 2012  

Mission Impossible: #YoSoy132 Proposes to Clean Up the Electoral Farce

Mexico: Defeat the Bourgeois Repression
of the PRI, PAN and PRD! Workers to Power!


Contingent of the Grupo Internacionalista in the June 10 march commemorating the 1971 “halconazo,”
the massacre carried out by a paramilitary hit squad of the PRI (the Hawks) which attacked a student
march, murdering dozens. 
(Photo: El Internacionalista)

No Vote to Capitalist Parties and Politicians! Break with López Obrador’s
Bourgeois Popular Front! Forge a Revolutionary Workers Party!

The following article is a translation of a leaflet put out by the Grupo Internacionalista on the anniversary of the 10 June 1971 massacre of students.

JUNE 10 – The sudden appearance on the political scene of the movement #YoSoy132 (I am 132) a month ago has shaken up the previously listless campaign for the July 1 elections. By questioning the media coverage of the Televisa-TV Azteca duopoly and opposing the “imposition” of Enrique Peña Nieto of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) as president, the students have thrown a wrench into the works. His main opponent, Andrés Manuel López Obrador (universally known by his initials, AMLO), candidate of the Progressive Movement, began climbing in the opinion polls while Peña Nieto’s numbers began plummeting. Alarmed, ex-president Vicente Fox of the right-wing National Action Party (PAN) came out in favor of the PRI candidate, turning his back on PAN candidate Josefina Vázquez Mota. And while the entire bourgeois media treat the #YoSoy132 movement with kid gloves, even the most “progressive” ones are vituperating against the struggle of the teachers in the CNTE.[1]

It all began with a routine visit by the leading presidential candidate to a private university, along with partial and lying media coverage. On May 11, the PRI standard-bearer Peña Nieto was loudly booed at the Universidad Iberoamericana. The students recalled his responsibility for the repression against the townspeople of San Salvador Atenco in May 2006, which resulted in the murder of two youths and the rape of 26 women being held by his state police. Amid shouts of “Murderer, murderer!” the candidate had to hurriedly leave the campus. When Televisa and journalists who act as flacks for the regime repeated the accusations that the students were porros (“thugs”) and acarreados (bussed in) for AMLO, 131 of those who joined in the protest put up a video on the social media where they denounced the media lies. The video went viral on the Internet, and #YoSoy132 was born.

Naturally, various groups of the opportunist left who habitually tail after every new “movement” are trying to clamber aboard the brand new student movement. Those who support López Obrador and his Progressive Movement (Militante and Izquierda Socialista[2]) groups are clamoring for #YoSoy132 to emphasize its call for an “informed vote” (i.e., for a “useful vote” for AMLO[3]).  Those who previously called for boycotting the electoral farce or for casting a “no vote” (the LTS, POS and LUS[4]) shelved their earlier proclamations, or at most they mention them in a whisper, while calling for 132 to emphasize its “non-party” character. The various denominations join together to try to push to the left a movement that arose in the private universities and which from the outset has had an elitist bias. Yet all the references to the “Arab Spring,” the European Indignados (Outraged) or the Occupy Wall Street movement cannot hide the fact that #YoSoy132 is an attempt to prettify the rigged bourgeois electoral process.

As we said on signs we held outside the general assembly of the 132 movement at the National University on May 30, “We are communists and we fight for workers revolution.” The Grupo Internacionalista emphasizes that all the capitalist parties and alliances are responsible for the deadly repression unleashed by the ruling class against the working people of town and country. We insist that the exploited and oppressed have no one to vote for in the electoral contest. Today, just as 31 years ago, when the Halcones (Hawks, a bloody shock troop financed by the PRI government) violently broke up the first student demonstration after the massacre of 2 October 1968, leaving a couple dozen dead, violent repression of social protest is part and parcel of the capitalist state. And that will not change whether one or another person is elected to administer that state. We call to not vote for the PRI, PAN, PRD, PT, PANAL, PVEM, MC[5] or any other bourgeois party, and to break with the popular front led by López Obrador. We seek instead to mobilize all the strength of the working class in support of the teachers in struggle, under attack by the entire bourgeois political spectrum (see “Mexico Electoral Farce 2012: Militarization and Anti-Worker Attacks,” a May 2012 supplement to El Internacionalista).

Electoral propaganda on the web site of #YoSoy132 says: “Enrique Peña Nieto, Mexico Doesn't Want You, I am anti-Peña Nieto.”

It’s undeniable that there is a certain political fluidity in this recently formed movement, as well as struggle between its different components. Various left groups complain of a lack of democracy in the leadership of the Inter-University Coordinating Committee, which puts out statements in the name of #YoSoy132 and calls meetings behind closed doors. But this doesn’t mean that the movement overall doesn’t have a political profile. By criticizing “a manipulated electoral process that aims at restoring the old political regime,” and by saying that “the face of this old regime is the candidate Peña Nieto,” as it has done from the outset while not calling for a “no vote,” it is in reality supporting the candidates running against Peña Nieto. By registering as election observers with the Federal Election Institute, it is joining with the electoral apparatus of the capitalist state. By denouncing the undeniable authoritarianism of PRI rule while barely mentioning the more than 60,000 dead in the “war against drugs” of President Felipe Calderón, it is attempting to prettify the present government of the PAN.

#YoSoy132 is a cry of anguish of the sons and daughters of those who with their “useful vote” against the PRI in 2000 thought that they would achieve “democracy.” Instead they got a dozen years of ultra-reactionary governments of the PAN, which has brutally attacked the rights of women (equating abortion with murder), launched a union-busting assault (against the electrical workers of the SME) and turned the country into a “cemetery,” as the poet Javier Sicilia put it. At the same time, Sicilia, the architect of the Movement for Peace and Justice, gives kisses and hugs to the murderous and repressive candidates. Now that it looks like the PRI could return to Los Pinos (Mexico’s White House) – this time with the support of Fox! – those who kept silent as the country was militarized are shocked. As the PAN candidacy implodes, it is likely that today the “useful vote” would be in favor of López Obrador, who has softened his image, assuming a “loving” posture towards capital. The supporters of #YoSoy132, to the extent that they don’t back AMLO directly, and despite their supposed political independence, will act as defenders of his vote. And, as in 2006, the opportunist socialists will once again be the “left” flank of the bourgeois movement.

Repression Is the Work of All the Bourgeois Parties

After the May 11 incident which gave rise to the #YoSoy132 movement, it rapidly spread through the elite private universities around the country. On May 18, hundreds of students from the Iberoamericana and the Monterrey Technological Institute demonstrated outside Televisa offices in the Mexico City neighborhood of Santa Fe; at the same time, students of the Autonomous Technological Institute of Mexico did the same outside the Televisa installations in San Angel. That Televisa lies is hardly news. Students from the National University (UNAM), SME electrical workers and CNTE teachers regularly protest outside the TV station and are routinely ignored. But this time, instead of repeating the usual insults, the media suddenly changed their tone: they praised the initiative and civic sense of the students. Their class origin was decisive. The Ibero, the Monterrey Tec and the ITAM are hardly hotbeds of leftist activism, they are preparatory schools for the bourgeoisie. The protests indicate that there is discontent in the well-off sectors of the country. This rebellion wasn’t born in the vast plebeian cities of Nezahualcoyotl or Chalco, but instead comes from the upscale districts of Polanco and Lomas de Chapultepec.

Graphic on the web site yosoy132.mx. And what about the rise in price of tortillas?

The class character of the movement is also manifest in its complaints and demands. The web site yosoy132.mx has a collection of photos, many of them of political signs: for a march against Peña Nieto, for Ibero pride, for a useful vote for López Obrador’s MORENA (Movement of National Regeneration, another component of the opposition popular front), etc. One graphic compares the gasoline price hikes under PRI presidents (900%, 1,810%, 290%) and those of the PAN (28% and 36%). The comparison is evidently of interest to students who have cars. In contrast, there is no mention of the increase in the price of tortillas, which has soared from 4.5 pesos a kilo in 2000 to more than 12 pesos today. Communiqué No. 1 of the Inter-University Coordinating Committee called to “make Internet access an effective constitutional right.” But what about the more than two-thirds of Mexico’s population that doesn’t have a computer or IPhone? No mention either of the right to a job, to food, to housing, to public transportation. It is significant when even youth of the upper middle class begin to protest, but they don’t represent “youth” in general.

The question of class is also key in talking about repression. It is quite true that PRI candidate Enrique Peña Nieto’s hands are covered in blood, which is his calling card for the Mexican bourgeoisie and its imperialist masters who are anxious to impose “stability.” However, it should be remembered that in repressing the people of San Salvador Atenco, Peña Nieto had the full military backing of the Federal Preventive Police, commanded by PAN president Vicente Fox. At the same time, it should be also be noted that the clash began with the arrest of flower vendors in a terrifying police assault ordered by the PRD mayor of Texcoco.

In 2006, while the candidates of the PAN, PRI and PRD were going after each other with hammer and tongs in the election contest, the politicians of these bourgeois parties joined in repeatedly coordinating repression against the workers. This was the case in the state of Michoacán, when on April 20 federal forces obeying the PAN president, state forces under the control of the PRD governor and municipal forces answering to the PRI mayor orchestrated a bloody attack on the steel workers on strike in the port of Lázaro Cárdenas. The toll of this attack was two workers murdered (specifically by state police under the orders of  Governor Lázaro Cárdenas Batel, son of the PRD caudillo Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas) and 41 injured.

The same thing occurred that year with the suppression of the popular mobilization begun by the teachers strike of Section 22, SNTE-CNTE in Oaxaca. On that occasion, the notorious PRI governor, Ulises Ruíz Ortiz, after his “caravans of death” murdered more than 20 teachers and members of the People’s Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO), requested the aid of the PAN federal government to retake the city of Oaxaca, from which the state police forces had been expelled and kept at bay for six months. At that time, the request by the murderer Ruíz Ortiz for federal “police aid” had the explicit support of the state Congress, including the PRD, PT and Convergencia caucuses [all of which supported López Obrador].

Today as well, while the capitalist parties and politicians compete with very similar programs, PAN president Calderón’s bloody war against the drug traffickers has been financed and carried out by state and municipal governments of the PAN, PRI and PRD. One only need recall that Calderón began his militarist campaign with “Operation Michoacán,” at the request of Cárdenas Batel. More recently, police under the orders of the PRD governor of Guerrero together with federal police under Calderón’s command murdered two students of the Rural Teacher Training College of Ayotzinapa on the Mexico-Acapulco superhighway last December 12.

Thus it is perfectly obvious that in only opposing Peña Nieto and not the other bourgeois candidates, #YoSoy132 is ignoring the repressive character of the Mexican bourgeoisie as a whole. When all is said and done, what is decisive is the class struggle. It is high time for the working class and oppressed to stand up against their exploiters and oppressors, both politically and by organizing workers self-defense. And for that, the fundamental axiom of proletarian struggle is indispensable: complete and radical class independence from the bosses, their politicians and their parties.

“Democratization of the Media”

#YoSoy132 has come out against “the false democracy of telenovelas (soap operas).[6] One of its main initial demands was that Gobernación (Mexico’s interior ministry) order that the insipid presidential debates be carried by all networks. (Televisa and TV Azteca quickly agreed to broadcast them on their main channels.) It is hard to see how this could “raise the consciousness” of the population. The first debate between the four candidates on May 6 was so boring and insubstantial that the main news was the 20 seconds during which an edecán (escort) of the Federal Election Institute appeared on the screen.

The Iberoamericana students discovered that the bourgeois media lie. What a revelation! In fact, that is their basic function: to cultivate a “public opinion” consistent with the interests of the capitalist class. Subsequently, #YoSoy132 raised the banner of “democratization” of the communications media, and to that end they proposed to encourage competition by authorizing new television networks. But whether there are many more channels, or even 1,000 TV cable channels as in the United States, the mass information media will continue to be a means to dominate the exploited and oppressed.

#YoSoy132 outside the Federal Election Institute (IFE), above, imitates  with its white globes the reaccionary student mobilization in 2007 in favor of the coup-plotting TV channel RCTV.
(Photos: Oscar Mireles/Reforma, Juan
Barreto/Agence France-Presse)

Some left groups have tried to give an “anti-capitalist” interpretation to the demand for democratizing access to information. This was notably the case of the Liga de Trabajadores por el Socialismo (LTS). In its newspaper Estrategia Obrera (No. 97, 8 June) it notes, correctly, that “so long as class society exists, freedom of the press translates into free enterprise.” Or as the famous American publicist H.L. Mencken is said to have remarked, “freedom of the press is limited to those who own one.” Yet further on the LTS calls for “expropriation without compensation of the big communications media, which should function under the control of their workers.” All this without mentioning the word revolution.

At the same time, the LTS demands that “any group of workers, students or organizations… shall have the right and resources, paid for by the state, to publish its positions,” and calls to “struggle in addition for subsidies and budgets for independent media, community radios,” etc. All this feeds dangerous democratic illusions, that the present-day state of the exploiters can be pressured into serving the interests of the exploited. Calling on a bourgeois government to expropriate the communications media or to provide subsidies would inevitably hand over control over information to the capitalist state, notwithstanding sugary phrases about “workers control.”

Genuine access to the communications media for the exploited and oppressed is only possible in the midst of sharp class struggles. In Oaxaca in 2006, the workers organized Radio APPO by occupying the facilities of Radio Universidad. They later took over TV Channel 9 as well as, for a time, several commercial broadcasters. But they were only able to do this, and thereby put a stop to the lying bourgeois propaganda orchestrated by the government and the private TV and radio station owners, because they were able during several months to keep the repressive apparatus of capital outside of the capital of Oaxaca.

Democratization of the information media is not possible within the framework of capitalism. The exploited and oppressed will only be able to control the communications media by expropriating the bourgeoisie as a whole, through workers revolution.

Forge a Revolutionary Workers Party!

After some days of hesitation, on May 22, on the eve of the inter-university assembly in Ciudad Universitaria (University City, main campus of the National University), the youth group of the pseudo-Trotskyist LTS, Contracorriente, announced that it was joining the new movement, declaring: “Today more than ever, we are all #132!” In an accompanying article the called to expand the movement with a “platform of common demands or manifesto which unifies all the demands of the youth.” A program of the entire youth? The implicit premise of the Contracorriente position is that the youth are above the division of society into classes. They couldn’t be more wrong.

In Mexico, access to higher education is highly restrictive: barely 25% of youth between the ages of 19 and 25 attend an institution of higher education. Consequently, many university students are part of the upper petty bourgeoisie or bourgeoisie. Hence the first demands of a student movement arising in the private universities must be for the expropriation of these institutions, for opening the universities to all who wish to study, for control of the universities by councils of students, faculty and workers, for the elimination of all tuition and fees at all educational levels, and for a living stipend for students.

The #YoSoy132 movement seeks “real democracy,” as did the “Outraged” in Europe, to which they trace their origins. To be sure, the right to free, quality public education is no more than a democratic demand, and as such it is not in itself incompatible with capitalism. However, aside from exceptional cases, in this epoch of capitalist decay, this right can only be achieved through revolutionary mobilization of the working class. The fact that even students of the well-off petty bourgeoisie are mobilizing, both in Mexico and southern Europe, indicates the depth of the world economic crisis. But in order to really fight against oppression and poverty, they will have to break their ties with the ruling classes and take their place along side the proletariat and the oppressed in the class struggle.

Despite the tremendous hopes raised by the sudden mobilization of thousands of youth, the #YoSoy132 movement is essentially electoral, with a bourgeois program. As communists, we fundamentally oppose this perspective. We call for no votes for any of the bourgeois candidates. It is urgently necessary to build a Leninist party of the proletarian vanguard, armed with the Trotskyist program of permanent revolution. Emphasizing that the struggle for achieving the most pressing democratic rights (land to the peasants, democratic rights in reality and not just on paper) goes beyond the framework of the capitalist system, this party would fight for a workers and peasants government to begin the socialist revolution, expropriating the capitalists and spreading internationally.

The Grupo Internacionalista, Mexican section of the League for the Fourth International, seeks to form a fighting propaganda group to prepare the cadre for a future revolutionary workers party. In this struggle it is vital to attract working-class youth, but also the most conscious radicalized youth, to the camp of workers revolution. We invite you to join us in this effort. ■

[1] The National Coordinating Committee of Education Workers (CNTE) is a union grouping of dissident teachers that arose in struggle against the leadership National Union of Education Workers (SNTE), a “corporatist” body integrated into the state apparatus that serves as an agency of government control rather than a workers union. The CNTE operates independently of the SNTE, while controlling several state federations. This May-June it launched extended teacher strikes in several states.

[2] The Militante group, which considers itself the “Marxist” current of the bourgeois Party of the Democratic Revolution, split in 2010 with one wing keeping the original name (and ties to the International Marxist Tendency led by Alan Woods) while the other eventually adopted the name Izquierda Socialista (Socialist Left) and is associated with the Revolutionary Marxist Current led by the former Spanish section of the IMT.

[3] As opposed to a throwaway vote for the rightist Vázquez Mota, who has no chance of winning, or abstaining or casting invalid ballots (a “no vote”).

[4] The Liga de Trabajadores por el Socialismo, Partido Obrero Socialista and Liga de Unidad Socialista had previously been part of a Socialist Front calling for a boycott of the elections.

[5] PRD, Party of the Democratic Revolution, bourgeois nationalist party led by ex-PRI politicians and staffed by ex-leftists. PT, Labor Party, a phony workers party set up by PRI president Carlos Salinas. PANAL, a “party” which is little more than a vehicle for the political maneuvering of SNTE boss Elba Esther Gordillo. PVEM, Green/Ecological Party, allied with the PRI. MC, Citizens Movement, a bourgeois coalition allies with López Obrador.

[6] Peña Nieto’s wife, Angélica Rivera, is a telenovela star on Televisa.

To contact the Internationalist Group and the League for the Fourth International, send e-mail to: internationalistgroup@msn.com