Mexico faces new crisis

THE US and Mexican governments finally agreed last week to the tough terms of America’s $20 billion loan to bail out the stricken Mexican economy, but it seems almost certain that the ‘cure’ will be more fatal than the disease.

Under pressure from the US, the Bank of Mexico raised interest rates to 50% on January 20. The effect on companies and businesses will be devastating, triggering off untold collapses and bankruptcies.

It is only a matter of time before the business community runs out of patience and turns against the already divided Zedillo government. Such withdrawal of support (and capital) would create a crisis at the top. Coupled with this is the organised armed uprisings which first hit the British press in January 1994. The US will try and make workers pay for the crisis in Mexico just as it has at home, but workers in Mexico may not be so easily skinned.

Against this near apocalyptic backdrop, more information is emerging about the mysterious “Subcomandante Marcos”, and the Mexican revolutionary movement.

Marcos is a sophisticated and intelligent revolutionary, with a distinctly creative touch. After being taunted by the pro-government press for being homosexual, which is quite a serious ‘accusation’ in a macho society like Mexico, Marcos issued one of his typically idiosyncratic E-mail communiqués: “Marcos is gay in San Francisco, a Palestinian in Israel, a Jew in Germany, a pacifist in Bosnia, a housewife alone on a Saturday night in any neighbourhood of any city in Mexico...”

Originally a university lecturer, he moved to Nicaragua after the Sandinista revolution. In 1984, he disappeared into the Mexican jungle with a group of Central American Maoists, where he spent 10 years training a peasant army. As we know, the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) finally struck on New Year’s Day 1994 in Chiapas - the day that Nafta became law.

Marcos declared in July 1994: “We don’t want power; we don’t want money; just our land back. So in this kind of struggle the communists, the communist bogeymen, cannot be invoked.”

It seems from this that Marcos’s ‘guerrillaist’ tactics may be directed towards negotiation rather than revolution. This is not the behaviour of a serious proletarian revolutionary, who employs warfare as an integral part of a revolutionary programme. It smacks more of petty bourgeois adventurism, which is content to play cat-and-mouse with government forces until it either exhausts itself or is defeated militarily (remember the very different fates of Regis Debray and Che Guevara).

However, the German journal Gegen die Stromung (Against the Tide) contains an interview with a representative of the Moviemiento Revolucionario de Mexico (Mexican Revolutionary Movement) a coalition of seven armed revolutionary organisations, including the EZLN, which have been working together since 1978. The journal is distributed by the Stalin Society, so should be read critically, but some interesting facts can be gleaned.

The MRM was central in organising the 100,000-strong pro-Marcos demonstration in Mexico City on January 12.

But the political ideology of the MRM has its limitations. Primarily it is characterised by a backward looking nationalism. The MRM comrade states in the journal that the “Mexican revolution is our own affair”. The comrade plainly affirms that the MRM has “never had relationships with other countries. Not with the Soviet Union, nor Cuba, Vietnam, Albania, China or Korea...the path we have chosen in Mexico and which has developed in the course of the struggle is to rely upon ourselves alone.”

This can only lead to demoralisation and eventual defeat. The comrade goes on to defend the Mexican constitution against Nafta and declares that “Mexican nationalism is a process of finding and defending ourselves against the American invasion and so it plays a progressive role.”

Real strength for the MRM would be to exploit the opportunity presented by Nafta and unite with the North American working class, to organise across national borders. The revolutionary dynamism of Mexican workers could have a huge impact on the working class in the US, whose politics at the moment are incredibly reactionary.

Although MRM’s stated aim is socialist revolution, it seems content to find ‘liberation’ in the pre-capitalist past. It idealises primitive communist communalism and isolates itself from the international working class in a manner reminiscent of Enver Hoxha or Kim Il Sung.

A socialist revolution in this weak link of imperialism could not survive in isolation, but it could act as a spark for workers in the US itself.

The US economy is tied tightly to Mexico and a revolutionary situation there would cause it massive problems. A working class united throughout North America under the inspiration of the revolutionary movement in Mexico would be a threat to imperialism world-wide.

Frank Vincent