Mexico’s critical days

MEXICO’S SLIDE into a revolutionary situation has been dramatically highlighted by recent events.

In a surprise move on Tuesday night, President Zedillo ordered the army to withdraw from the Zapatista-controlled area of Chiapas and renewed his offer of ‘peace’ talks. This seems to indicate that Zedillo is desperate to restore some sort of stability and improve his tarnished image, which is reaching pariah status.

Also somewhat unexpectedly, President Carlos Salinas appears to have fled to the United States, as the allegations against him mount. It is common knowledge that his elder brother, Raul, who has been charged with the murder of the secretary general of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, had close links with the cocaine cartels. Carlos was almost certainly involved somewhere along the line, but as he was the United States’ prodigy at the time he obviously felt secure in his position and made little effort to ‘reform’ the PRI.

Last Friday saw the unveiling of President Zedillo’s “90 critical days” plan, which is an unprecedented wholesale assault on the living standards of the masses. This desperate gamble includes a sweeping 35% increase in the price of fuel, VAT raised on most consumer items from 10% to 15%, a ‘promise’ to cut public spending by 10% during the year and an effective 10% cap on public sector pay rises.

However, Zedillo may well have played his last card. The ruling class is irreparably divided over the austerity plan, the ‘official’ labour organisations are in near revolt and Zedillo’s only supporters appear to be the IMF and the World Bank.

 All the ingredients for a Mexican revolution are present. This would send shock waves straight into the heart of the United States and bring a much needed fluidity back into American politics, which is currently frozen in ultra-reactionary aspic.

Frank Vincent