The Internationalist  
May 2011  

“War on Drugs” = Capitalist War Against Workers and the Poor

Mexico: Against Militarization,
Fight for Workers Revolution

Mexico's federal police bloodily repressed demonstrators in Oaxaca during the February 2011 visit to
the city by President Felipe Calderón, leaving a toll of 15 wounded.
(Foto: Baldomero Robles/Noticias )

Forge a Revolutionary Workers Party!

MAY 7 – Today the convoy of the March for Peace with Justice and Dignity, headed by the poet Javier Silicia, arrives in Mexico City. The mobilization will culminate tomorrow with a rally in the Zócalo, Mexico City’s monumental central square. Spurred by the March 28 murder of the poet’s son in Cuernavaca, Sicilia’s mobilization has garnered broad support. Parallel protests are scheduled tomorrow in more than 20 Mexican cities, along with various actions at a numbr of Mexican consular offices abroad. This mobilization has intersected a growing clamor against the violence that has intensified since Felipe Calderón’s rise to power, which in the last four years has brought a bloody toll of over 40,000 dead. Just in the month of April, some 145 bodies were discovered in hidden graves in San Fernando, Tamaulipas, the same city where in August of last year the bodies of 72 migrants were discovered, most of them from Central America.

In the past few days, columnists from various newspapers have called on readers to join the demonstration. Yesterday, the Mexican Conference of Bishops announced its support, blaming “narcotrafficking and organized crime” (but not the government). Even President Calderón of the right-wing National Action Party (PAN) saluted the demonstration as “a civic expression.” Various labor organizations have joined the call, including the Mexican Union of Electrical Workers (SME). Reflecting the mobilization of such diverse sectors, there are differing accounts as to the nature of this “movement,” among them the “No más sangre” (No more blood) initiative of the cartoonist “Rius” (Eduardo del Río) supported by the Movement of National Regeneration (MORENA), that of Sicilia himself, more non-partisan, and that of the leftist Metropolitan Coordination Against Militarization and Violence (COMECON) in the Federal District. Nevertheless, what all these elements have in common is their classless appeals for peace – or against violence – instead of proclaiming the need for class war against the government and all wings of the bourgeoisie.

Sicilia stated quite explicitly that “we are not against the government,” that “the mobilization is to make demands on the government, not to bring it down,” and that he proposes to repair the “fabric of society,” as quoted in La Jornada (6 May). He also says that “right now we have a co-opted state that necessarily must be reformed from within,” that it is necessary to “remake the public institutions,” etc. Sicilia wants the state to “do its job,” as he said yesterday when he headlined a protest in Topilejo: “We must learn to be citizens, to demand that the rulers and the misnamed ‘political class’ do their duty” (La Jornada, 7 May). Our view as proletarian revolutionaries is exactly the opposite: we insist that what is needed is for the capitalist state to be brought down, since it is the source of the violence against the exploited and oppressed.

Other elements are trying to connect up with the wave of indignation unleashed by the assassination of Sicilia’s son, while offering it a more leftist gloss. While the League of Workers for Socialism (LTS) denounces the drug war and militarization, the Socialist Workers Party (POS), followers of the late Argentine pseudo-Trotskyist Nahauel Moreno, repeat Sicilia’s slogan “we’re fed up” in an editorial in El Socialista, and call for the formation of a “great front of struggle” against insecurity and unemployment. With their cries of “down with Calderón,” the program of these organizations that claim to be socialist is perfectly compatible with that of MORENA, which is the current brand-name of the popular front around the figure of Andrés Manuel López Obrador, popularly known by his initials AMLO. When they lay the blame on the government, it is only in preparation for López Obrador’s 2012 election campaign. Ultimately, all of them have the same program of calling on the state to stop violence.

Regardless of their talk of struggling against militarization and the police state that is hanging over the country, it is impossible to do this as part of a movement “against violence,” “for peace,” or whatever one might call it. When the POS denounces “insecurity” or the COMECON (of which the LTS is a member) calls for “an end to violence and impunity,” they take the side, even if only implicitly, of the bourgeois state, because they don’t stand on the only possible alternative: a workers movement fighting to take power. They thereby help to drum up the “anti-crime” hysteria with which the government wants to justify the militarization of the country.

In reality, the current “war on drugs” is not a war between the government and the drug traffickers, but a fight among sectors of the ruling class for the control of territories and markets. If it is carried out with arms, instead of with lawsuits and “price wars,” this is on account of the peculiarities of the business of moving and distributing prohibited substances and “illegal” immigrants. The commercial entities engaged in this business (the Gulf cartel, La Familia, Los Zetas, etc.) could not exist without their ties to the state. Moreover, the biggest organized crime syndicate is the capitalist state itself. When the media refer to “organized crime,” are they by any chance talking about the gift of Telmex (the former state telephone monopoly) to Carlos Slim? Or the concession of the mines to the Grupo México, the company of the infamous Germán Larrea[1]? Or the protection granted by PAN governments to those guilty of the unending industrial homicide of miners, from Pasta de Conchos and now Sabinas in Coahuila, to the mines of Sonora, Guerrero and Jalisco?

At moments of intensified class struggle, revolutionary communists call for the formation of workers self-defense groups, a slogan that is absent from the propaganda of the opportunist leftists who partake in the movement “against violence.” We raised this slogan in Oaxaca in 2006 and in union struggles from Lázaro Cárdenas[2] to the SME[3]. But in the end, the only way to put an end to the violence perpetrated by the state and the ruling class is by means of a social revolution. All attempts at “reform,” at “democratic” control of the police, at supervision over the police, of calling for the jailing of the uniformed assassins, are doomed to failure, because the bourgeoisie needs its repressive machine, the backbone of its state.

We wrote (“Militarization and Hunger in Mexico,” The Internationalist No. 28, March-April 2009) that while under the seven-decades rule of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), “Mexican governments maintained control through the all-encompassing mechanisms of a corporatist regime,” since 2000 the “ultimate recourse” of PAN governments “is greater use of the military, bringing Mexico closer to militarized pseudo-democracies like Colombia.” This is not a peculiarity of the PAN. It would be the same under any bourgeois party (PRD, PRI, PT[4], Greens, Convergencia[5], etc.) U.S. imperialism’s “silent invasion” of the country would also continue, with its hundreds of agents who are an integral part of this militarization.

Moreover, “peace” movements end up helping bonapartist elements who promise to put an end to crime and violence with forceful repression. In a note in La Jornada of 3 May, Luis Hernández Navarro[6] insists that the May 8 march is quite different from the mobilization in 2004, when prominent right-wing politicians launched an anti-violence movement, in the midst of a wave of kidnappings of bourgeois figures. It is true that there is a certain difference: that was a rightist movement while this is a popular-frontist “progressive” one. Nevertheless, if this movement achieves any power, it will have to base itself on the same capitalist state, and will end up reinforcing it, although with a “leftist” vocabulary.

There is ample historical precedent for movements of this sort, notably in Italy, where the left has sought to oppose the corruption and violence that flourished under center-right (Christian Democracy) governments. Even when they succeeded in installing a center-left government, such as in the “historic compromise” of Aldo Moro[7] with the PCI in the 1970s, or more recently in the government of l’Unione[8], which included Rifondazione Comunista[9], and the results were disastrous. In the case of the “Historic Compromise,” the slogans “against violence” prepared “public opinion” for support a witchhunt (with the PCI in charge of the police!) against leftist radicals, including rank and file union committees and veteran anti-fascist partisans. Later, the “leftist” Unione government participated in the occupation of Afghanistan, and wound up paving the way for the far-right Berlusconi government with its bonapartist tendencies. (See “Italy: Popular Front of Imperialist War and Anti-Labor Attacks” in The Internationalist No. 25, January-February 2007).

In the case of Mexico, the militarization of the country and the thousands of deaths under the current six-year presidencial term are the expression of the war of the capitalists against the workers and the poor. Taking the reins of the state amidst massive plebeian mobilizations protesting the electoral fraud that gave him his “victory,” Calderón overtly based himself on the armed forces. Seemingly infatuated with dressing up in military fatigues and soldier’s cap while reviewing the troops, Calderón intensified the bonapartist tendencies of the regime, announcing that there would be less carrots and a lot more sticks for the population. Today, these same pressures manifest themselves in the push to approve the “reforms” of the National Security Law, which would give “special powers” to the executive to impose martial law in regions “threatened by ungovernability.” In the end, these measures aren’t directed against the narcotraffickers, but against those who would dare to protest against the government and its policies of starvation and union-busting.

Against the fraudulent “war on drug trafficking” we call for elimination of all laws that prohibit or regulate the consumption and selling of drugs. It’s none of the state’s business what anyone wants to do with their own body. Against harassment by criminal gangs in competition – and sometimes in cooperation – with police forces, targeted against migrants who cross Mexico heading for the northern border, it is necessary to fight for full citizenship rights for all immigrants, in Mexico as well as in the U.S. We fight for the expulsion of all imperialist agents. But the most important thing is to underline that the only real way out of capitalist barbarity is revolutionary struggle for a workers and peasants government, extending beyond the borders in an international socialist revolution. The necessary instrument for achieving this task is a revolutionary workers party that would act as a tribune of the people, defending all the oppressed.

[1] Larrea is the owner of the Pasta de Conchos mine in the state of Coahuila, where 65 miners were buried alive in 2006.

[2] Site of Mexico’s largest steel plant, in the state of Michoacán, where in April 2006 workers drove off a joint attack by thousands of  state and federal police and the Mexican navy.

[3] In October 2009, the Calderón government dissolved the Luz y Fuerza del Centro (LyFC) company and fired all 44,000 of its employees.

[4] PT, a fake “Labor Party” set up by the PRI corporatist apparatus under president Carlos Salinas, now often allied with the PRD and López Obrador.

[5] Convergence for Democracy, a bourgeois liberal party, part of the López Obrador popular front.

[6] Prominent intellectual and opinion editor of the liberal Mexico City daily La Jornada.

[7] Aldo Moro (1916-1978), leader of the Catholic/Mafia “Christian Democratic” (DC) party, the historic party of post-war Italian capitalism, who accepted the offer of Italian Communist Party (PCI) secretary Enrico Berlinguer for a “historic compromise” for “national solidarity” between the two parties in the 1970s. Previously the Cold War raison d’être of the DC was to keep the Communists out of the Italian government.

[8] L’Unione, the coalition behind the second government of Romano Prodi (2006-2008).

[9] Partito della Rifondazione Comunista (PRC, Party of Communist Refoundation), founded by dissidents from the Stalinist PCI who split in 1991 when the party abandoned any vestigial pretense of communism and renamed itself the Democratic Party (PD).

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