Imperialist Intrigues in Mexico - No to the desafuero of Obrador!

The political situation in Mexico is heating up. The anger of the masses has been aroused by the political interference of the United States in the internal affairs of the country and that anger is threatening to boil over into an all out social explosion. The most popular candidate in all polls for next year’s presidential election, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO), has not even officially announced his intention to run as PRD candidate for the presidency, and US imperialism and Mexico ’s ruling class are already trying to block him from running for office.

The political situation in Mexico is heating up. The anger of the masses has been aroused by the political interference of the United States in the internal affairs of the country and that anger is threatening to boil over into an all out social explosion. The most popular candidate in all polls for next year’s presidential election, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO), has not even officially announced his intention to run as PRD candidate for the presidency, and US imperialism and Mexico’s ruling class are already trying to block him from running for office.

Obrador, Mexico city’s left wing mayor, has more than once been compared to Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez. He has invested in large-scale public works, funded and constructed new schools and hospitals and has fought for better social programmes in Mexico City, including monthly pensions for the elderly, the sick and disabled, and for single mothers. He would also like to see Mexico use its oil resources to further fund social programmes for the poor, something that the Venezuelan government has done successfully.

This is not the first time that Obrador’s political opponents have attempted to block him from running for office. In 2000, Obrador moved from Tabasco to Mexico City to run for mayor. His opponents took him to court and tried to have him removed from the ballot, claiming that he was not a resident of the capital city. He won the legal battle and was elected mayor and has governed under the slogan “First, the poor”. He initiated new social programmes, has procured massive domestic and foreign investment into the city, and has attempted to overhaul the traditionally corrupt police force. Even before this, in 1994, Obrador ran for governor of Tabasco and lost to current PRI party leader Roberto Madrazo in what many say was a clear case of electoral fraud. In the struggle that followed, thousands of Obrador supporters occupied the oil fields in Tabasco. This struggle gave Obrador a lot of authority and prestige as a militant leader.

The Los Angeles Times recently quoted Jose Torres, a retired bus driver who now receives a $70 monthly pension thanks to one of Obrador’s reforms, as saying, “He has bought new subway trains, built high schools and hospitals. He makes promises and keeps them, unlike the president” (LA Times, March 19, 2005). Obrador has captured the imagination of Mexico’s poor, and the masses have come out in his defence. The elderly, workers, farmers, the unemployed and the urban poor across the entire country have seen what Obrador has done in Mexico City and want to see the same reforms on a national level. The Arizona Republic reported a demonstration today in Guadalajara:

“ ‘In the Federal District (Mexico City), the elderly get free public transportation, and we want that in Jalisco,’ said Jose de Jesus Medina, 84. A pensioner who takes home the meager peso equivalent of $150 a month, Medina would see his income jump almost 50 percent if he received the same monthly stipend for food that Lopez Obrador gives Mexico City’s over-70 crowd. ‘Our salaries were always low, and when we retire, we end up panhandlers,’ said Medina, who worked in a flour mill for 35 years.”

Already, one and a half years before Mexico’s 2006 presidential election, the Mexican masses have been politicised. Mexico City is covered with political posters in support of Obrador and all across Mexico there have been mass rallies in support of the mayor. The Mexican ruling class is getting worried: the masses have come out in defence of Obrador. Rank and file militants have formed committees in support of Obrador and rank and file committees of the PRD have been established as well. These committees have spread around the country, from cities to villages and universities and can already be counted in the thousands. These action committees demonstrate the creative will of the working class to build organs of struggle, similar to the Bolivarian Circles in Venezuela. Another important development in the situation is the formation of the “Workers Front against the desafuero (impeachment) of AMLO”, to which over sixty unions have affiliated as well as many other cooperatives and other community organizations. The struggle to defend Obrador could become the focal point for the expression of the discontent across all of Mexican society, and could unite the various groups in struggle in to one movement.

US Imperialism

Already in November of last year there was controversy brewing over Obrador’s potential presidential candidacy. Then US Secretary of State Colin Powell, when asked about Obrador’s possible victory, was forced to respond, “President Bush would receive a left-wing Mexican leader as warmly as he would receive any other leader of Mexico”.

The US delivered their stark warning to Mexico shortly after Condoleeza Rice took over as Secretary of State. She announced a US travel advisory warning for Mexico, claiming that Mexico was seeing a rising wave of crime caused by narco-traffickers. This was a clear message to President Fox’s PAN and the PRI dominated congress – the US would be much more involved in the internal affairs of Mexico, and if Mexico would not do as it was told, then the war on drugs would be used to remove uncooperative officials. You see, it has recently been revealed that one of the PAN’s presidential trip directors is an alleged drug trafficker! Mexican President Fox and his fellow lawmakers got the hint, and began the “desafuero” (the word for the legal process that has been opened against Obrador – the stripping of his immunity) against Obrador – an obscure, rarely used law to attempt to prevent Obrador from running for president.

In Mexico, elected officials have legal immunity – the claim is that this immunity is in place to protect elected officials from trumped up charges and constant legal proceedings. It is said to protect them from blackmail and bribery. The reality of the situation is that it protects the elected swindlers, crooks, and corrupt officials in the Mexican state from facing any legal charges for their activities. It is now being used by Mexican capitalism to prevent Obrador, a potential threat to the interests of capitalism and imperialism, from running for office.

If an elected official is stripped of this immunity it also means that they cannot run for office – even if not convicted of a crime. If Obrador loses his immunity he can face criminal charges and is not eligible to run for president. This legal clause he been little used in Mexican politics. In fact, if used against Obrador it would be the first time in history. The LA Times reports that, “The mayor and his Democratic Revolutionary Party, or PRD, say the case is nothing more than a political maneuver to prevent him from running for president. Constitutional expert Lorenzo Cordova of Mexico’s National Autonomous University agreed. Cordova said many judicial orders are issued every day across Mexico and that a significant proportion are ignored by public officials without prosecution. He said he knew of no previous case in which a public official had been prosecuted for ignoring a court order. ‘This would be a first in Mexican history,’ said Cordova, a former advisor to the Federal Election Institute. ‘This is a case of selective justice and one that is eminently political in its application.’ (LA Times, March 19, 2005).

And what is the reason for all of this? Obrador is charged with breaking a court order to cease construction on a road to a newly constructed hospital. The US and Mexican press, of course, state that he is being charged with problems in a “land dispute”. The hospital was supposed to bring medical care to the shantytowns in the Santa Fe area just outside Mexico City and was financed with $44.5 million in loans from the World Bank and the InterAmerican Development Bank. The city agreed to build access roads to the new hospital.

The problems began when the city attempted to buy the land needed to build the access roads. The previous mayor of Mexico City, Rosario Robles, says that the owner of the land, Federico Escobedo Garduno, who owns a development company, wanted far too much money for the land. “[...] he wanted to sell it as if it were the price of Mexico City,” he told the Kansas City Star (March 17, 2005). When no deal was reached, the city, under Robles, decided to seize the land because it was for public use. Escobedo took the case to court in order to stop the seizure of his land on December 4, 2000 – a day before Lopez Obrador took office. He claimed that the construction of the road was preventing him from gaining access to his property.

In March 2001, the court agreed with the landowner and ordered that construction stop. Obrador says that work was stopped that day and he is backed by the real estate and construction agency involved in the work, which says that it received the order to halt construction on the same day the court issued its order. According to Escobedo the city did not remove the construction equipment immediately, and in August 2001, Escobedo filed a formal complaint saying he still was unable to access his land. The Attorney General, appointed by Fox, then opened a formal investigation in November of that year. The desafuero of Obrador is due to the fact that he “ignored” a court order – which is clearly not the case. He is not charged with corruption, embezzling, or any other form of personal enrichment.

Obrador and his supporters say that such high level involvement in what is really a minor legal case, indicates that there is a conspiracy to prevent him from becoming the next president of Mexico. It must also be said that the leading presidential candidates of both the PAN and the PRI are longtime rivals of Lopez Obrador, he lost the Tabasco governor elections to PRI leader Madrazo in 1994 and defeated the PAN’s most likely candidate for president when the two ran in the Mexico City’s mayoral elections in 2000.

This is clearly an intrigue on the part of Mexican capitalism and US imperialism, and polls show that 70% of Mexicans agree that the case is politically motivated. Recent polls show that 80% of Mexicans are opposed to the desafuero. With the level of corruption and scandals that involve Mexican officials, any number of elected officials should lose their immunity, be removed from office and face legal charges for things much, much worse than building a road to a hospital. The case they are bringing against Obrador does not even hold. The workers and farmers are not stupid, and have seen right through this little manoeuvre and legal dirty trick and are determined to resist the forces of imperialism. The US is playing with fire, and if Obrador is blocked, they could face a revolutionary explosion of the Mexican masses. If the plan to remove Obrador from the presidential race succeeds, the 2006 election will lose all legitimacy, and many in Mexico are saying that this will lead to massive civil resistance and disobedience, including blockades of highways and cross-border trade. Mexico could possibly see events similar to those that have taken place in recent years in Bolivia. This will in turn lead to further political crisis and put the Mexican revolution on the order of the day.

Obrador has already mobilized for his defence. The decision on his case will be announced by a four-member committee of the lower House of Deputies this Wednesday. Demonstrations in defence of Obrador are being organized up and down the country which will go ahead no matter the ruling.

As we have explained, there is not a single stable bourgeois regime from the Tierra del Fuego to the Rio Grande. A revolutionary wave is rolling across Latin America and threatens to engulf the entire region. We have not seen the social explosion in Mexico that we have seen in countries like Bolivia and Venezuela. That is not to say that there has been nothing happening in Mexico. There have been recent student and strike movements as well as local and state electoral victories of the PRD, but in general the movement has been an undercurrent, slowly building pressure.

The election of rightwing Vincente Fox and the defeat of the PRI after seventy years of rule seemed to let some of the steam off, but was no solution for the Mexican workers and peasants. The masses looked to the new era under Vincente Fox in the hopes that their problems would be solved. The Fox government has not been able to solve one of the problems facing the Mexican masses. The policies of the Fox government are simply a carbon copy of the old PRI policies. In fact, things have gotten worse, especially with the downturn of 2000 and the workers, farmers and poor are now increasingly looking to Obrador for away out of the miseries of capitalism. The Fox regime is seen by the imperialists as a weak regime that has not been able to introduce its policies. Mass mobilizations of the working class have defeated imperialist policies at every turn – the privatization of oil, the privatization of electricity, and the reform of the labour code have all been defeated by the mobilization of the working class and the farmers.

Of course, it must said that the policies of Obrador are moderate. For instance there is long standing resentment by workers employed in the Federal District about the fact that 100,000 of them are still on casual contracts, and most of them without social security rights. However, it must also be admitted that after 10 years (or more) of unrelenting attacks on the workers and poor of Mexico and the unrelenting suffering of the masses for decades, the policies of Obrador are like a “a glass of fresh water in the middle of the desert” and have opened the floodgates to the expression of years of pent up frustration and discontent.

Splits at the top

The scandal has spilled over into the US, where there are daily articles about the situation – and Obrador has been giving stark warnings from the mouthpieces of US imperialism. There are repeated reports that although he is a populist and speaks like a radical, if elected, Obrador would be reasonable and responsible and fall in line with the interests of US imperialism and Mexican capitalism. At the end of February, the Miami Herald ran an article entitled Despite his talk, a President López Obrador would be pragmatic (February 26, 2005). A Herald journalist asked the following question to four experts on the Mexican economy:

Question: Mexico City Mayor Andres Manuel López Obrador, the favorite in the run-up to Mexico’s 2006 presidential race, said he would restructure the country’s debt. Should investors be alarmed by this statement?

What were the answers of our experts (only three were really interesting from our point of view)?

“José Angel Gurria, a former Mexican minister of finance and a former minister of foreign affairs said: “Economics is not Mr. López Obrador’s strong suit [...] The challenges today are much more complex: international competitiveness, sustainable growth, job creation, a predictable and modern legal framework to attract foreign investment, etc. Talking about restructuring Mexico’s foreign debt shows an obsolete, dated, uninformed discourse, as is unfortunately so often the case with Mexico’s left.

“Armand Peschard-Sverdrup, director of the Mexico Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies answered: López Obrador’s recent remarks about restructuring the debt are unsettling because such remarks might scare away the very lenders he will have to turn to should he win in 2006. Should López Obrador succeed in capturing the presidency, he would be tempered by a series of realities, including a divided Congress, in all likelihood; an autonomous central bank; an autonomous Supreme Court; the interests of Mexico’s private sector; a highly integrated relationship with both the United States and Canada; and the increasingly urgent need for structural reforms.

“Rafael Fernandez de Castro, dean of the Department of International Studies at Instítuto Tecnológico Autónomo de Mexico and editor of Foreign Affairs en Español replied: The most likely scenario in terms of the economic policy that a possible Lopez Obrador administration would follow in 2006 will be one characterized by populist rhetoric but pragmatic and reformist in reality. The reason is that the middle class and the business class play a very important role in political alliances and in Lopez Obrador’s bases of support.”

The Mexican ruling class and US imperialism are not sure what to do about Obrador. In fact the PRI is split on the issue, and reveals the panicky indecision on the part of the ruling class. The Financial times published an article on March 28 under the caption Attempt to impeach Mexico City Mayor splits PRI. The article reports that the PRI is split down the middle on what do in this case. The article quotes the party’s congressional spokesman who said, “The upcoming vote has split the party in two. Both sides feel very strongly on this matter and it’s becoming a very delicate issue within party circles”.

The PRI is still the largest congressional party. Fox’s PAN obviously supports the desafuero, while the PRD is opposed. The PRI holds the balance – not only in the lower house, but on the four-member committee as well. The PAN and the PRD have one member each on the committee, for and against the desafuero respectively. The PRI holds the other two positions. Because of a quirk in the rules, if the committee is split two-two on the issue, the desafuero will end. If it votes three-one against, the full house has the right to overrule the decision. With tensions running high, and pressure building on the PRI, there is speculation that the two PRI members will split their votes and let the desafuero die. If they both vote together in favour or against, this will put massive pressure on the party, making the dispute more acute, provoking a serious battle in the party and possibly a split.

This split in the traditional party of the Mexican ruling class reveals the split in the ruling class itself. The PRI has entered a crisis, and this reflects the crisis of Mexican capitalism. One section, the one quoted above, thinks that Obrador, if he were to become president, can be bought off and that he will toe the line in the interests of capitalism, similar to Lula in Brazil. The other section of the ruling class is getting panicky, and worry that Obrador could end up another Hugo Chavez. And Obrador would immediately be faced with this choice – facing a credit or investment strike, he could stand up to imperialism like Chavez, or give in like Lula. The Chicago Sun-Times published an AP article on March 27 by Mark Stevenson revealing the attitude of the section of the bourgeois that do not want to risk an Obrador presidency, which just days before a decision on his desafuero have come out strongly against him – a warning to the PRI that it to had best solve its problems, and get rid of him.

“Political, church and business elite are expressing concerns that Latin America’s rising tide of charismatic leftists may soon sweep into Mexico. The warnings are clearly aimed at Mexico City’s free-spending mayor, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who leads the polls for the 2006 presidential race.”

Lopez Obrador

The article reports that Vincente Fox has joined the fray gone on the offensive against Obrador, trying to scaremonger the middle class into opposing Obrador: “ ‘Here come the messiahs who offer the Earth and the sky . . . populists with magic recipes for everything,'’ President Vicente Fox said recently. ‘In the end, they are only cheating people and taking money away from hardworking people.’ “

The article explains that the “Fox administration officials say the mayor lacks respect for the law and could return Mexico to the instability and inflation of the 1980s. The mayor has increased the city’s debt, and he sometimes appears to challenge court and legislative decisions with street protests swelled by city employees and pensioners.”

Sounding like the arguments used against Chavez in Venezuela, although in a milder form, the article explains that, “The open-checkbook policies and relentless personal promotion of the mayor disturb many in a region all too familiar with ‘'caudillos'’ -- political bosses who used charisma, graft and handouts to stay in power.” We have heard this before – anyone who supports the poor and offers genuine reforms is using “handouts” to buy off the poor. Obrador is compared to a “caudillo” as Chavez is called a strong man, a dictator. This line of arguing is followed up in the article by a quote from U.S. Ambassador Tony Garza who in August of last year said “People can lose faith in their public institutions, turning away from both markets and democracy and toward the sort of demagoguery that has too often plagued other countries”. This is a clear attempt to link the possibility of an Obrador presidency with the situation in Venezuela, and shows that the US genuinely fears that the Mexican workers and farmers may lose faith in “both markets and democracy”, i.e. capitalism and imperialism, and possibly move towards socialism. It is also a warning that if Obrador is elected president, that his government would be lumped in with others considered “hostile” to the US – i.e. Venezuela and Cuba, where the US has been interfering for years, organizing economic sabotage and coup d’états.

The article ends by showing the unity of the church, the state and the bourgeois on all matters of this type. “Carlos Slim, Latin America’s richest man, has supported Lopez Obrador’s urban renewal and anti-crime programs, but he warned recently that ‘a nostalgia for populism could develop, one that could affect all the progress toward democracy we’ve made in the 1980s and ‘90s.’” As in Venezuela, where the oligarchy and the church, and all the reactionary elements of society joined forces against Chavez, so they are now doing the same in Mexico against Obrador.

The head of Mexico’s Employers Federation, Alberto Nunez, called for ‘'a head-on battle against populism, ‘and even Cardinal Norberto Rivera weighed in, saying ‘’there is no room for a populist government.’”

This is a clear warning to Obrador that a section of the ruling class is ready to fight. And what does Obrador have to say in reply? ‘’the little that is given to the poor, they always call that populism or paternalism, and the large amounts handed out to the rich, that’s development and bailout programs. That’s an old trick'’.

The article also says that supporters of Obrador say that the left will become radicalized if he is barred from office. This is undoubtedly true, as is evidenced by a poll last October where half of the people interviewed said there would be ‘’serious political problems'’ if Obrador were barred from running. It would seem obvious that the left would radicalize in support of Obrador, but the bourgeois press cannot allow this to seem like a positive development! The article then quotes novelist Carlos Fuentes who brings up the prospect of a guerrilla war by saying ‘'If figures on the left are marginalized, like they're doing to Lopez Obrador, there is a risk that the left . . . will go back into the hills,'’ which the journalist then adds to by saying “referring to the region’s tradition of rural guerrilla movements.”

Whether it was intended by Fuentes or not, who has been a stern critic of US imperialism in the past, his words are being used as a scare tactic. Whether he intends to scare the left or the right, he intends to terrify people with the prospect of a guerrilla war. A revolutionary movement of the workers and farmers in Mexico, organized in its action committees on a national scale, would have to adopt the methods of the anti-imperialist struggle similar to the movement that has developed in Venezuela and Bolivia where the movement is not a guerrilla struggle taking place in the countryside but is a movement of the workers and urban poor, the overwhelmingly dominant force in Latin American society today, who are leading the countryside in struggle through a mass revolutionary movement.

Forward with the Mexican Revolution!

All of this talk in the bourgeois press about what Obrador would do if he becomes president, is at this point in time, almost irrelevant. If he survives the desafuero and is able to run for president and wins, and he sticks to his word, he could potentially play a role similar to that of Chavez in Venezuela, because the social and economic conditions of the two countries are similar. This is what the Mexican bourgeois and US imperialism fear above all else– that Obrador will bring the revolutionary tide that is sweeping Latin America right to the very borders of the United States. The US is desperate to stem the shift to the left that is taking place in Latin America. On the other hand, if Obrador does win the presidency but he doesn’t stick to his word, he will arouse the anger of the masses that he mobilized in his defence. They will demand that he deliver on his promises, and if he refuses, they will look for someone who can and will. The struggle will continue, and develop, and this will be reflected in the PRD itself, which is now becoming a mass pole of attraction for radicalizing youth and workers.

The recent imperialist intrigues in Mexico could be the spark that lights the flames of the Mexican revolution. The revolutionary wave that is sweeping Latin America now threatens to land right at the doorstep of the United States of America. Possibly more than any other revolutionary movement in South America, it is the Mexican revolution that could alight a social explosion in the US itself, and the US ruling class is aware of this. The US fears what the consequences of a Venezuela type process and movement in Mexico might mean in the US. Such a movement – a mass, democratic, anti-imperialist movement with all the potential in the world to develop into an anti-capitalist, socialist movement – would have an enormous effect on the downtrodden and oppressed in the United States, millions of which, by the way, are from Mexico or are of Mexican origin. Beyond the millions of Mexicans or Mexican-Americans, there are millions of Latin Americans in the US, and as the tide of revolution continues to roll across the continent to the very borders of the US, this must inevitably at some stage find a reflection in the US itself. Is there any wonder what the impetus was behind the renewed push announced last week by Bush and Fox, after years of talk and no action, to solve the question of immigration and border control? As with the desafuero, none of these legal tricks will be able to stop the movement of the masses once it is activated.

More than any other Latin American country, Mexico is considered the backyard of the US. Through the vehicle of NAFTA, the US has been able to strengthen its stranglehold over Mexico. Smaller and weaker Mexican centres of production have been bought up and replaced with powerful US multinationals and conglomerates, and the Mexican masses face deteriorating social conditions, attacks on wages, and an increase in prices. The Mexican workers and farmers are now looking for a way out of the miseries of capitalism, but imperialism cannot afford or allow even the minor reforms that have been initiated by Obrador.

US imperialism cannot afford to lose control of the situation in Mexico as it has in Venezuela and Bolivia. The US administration has learned from the past, but this will not help them. When Hugo Chavez was elected President of Venezuela in 1998, US imperialism and the Venezuelan oligarchy thought that he would be like any other politician – he could use his populist phraseology and rhetoric, but in the end he would succumb to the pressures of capitalism and imperialism and toe the line. One section believes that this will be the case with Obrador. But the US administration seems determined not to risk this happening again, and they are trying at all costs to stop the revolutionary tide from sweeping Mexico – hence they are hell bent on stopping Obrador from running for the presidency.

The forces of imperialism and capitalism were very wrong about Chavez, and will not take the chance anywhere else. Chavez could not be bought and his election was the expression of the mass anti-imperialist sentiments of the Venezuelan masses. Knowing this, the US will not allow something similar to take place in Mexico. That is why the US is trying to block Obrador as a presidential candidate. But no matter what the US does, it will be wrong and only further stoke the fiery anger of the masses. If the US relents and allows Obrador to run as president, they are faced with a potential mass anti-imperialist movement, led by a popular president, which would threaten all of their interests, i.e. a situation similar to that in Venezuela, where President Chavez has now come out in favour of socialism as the way forward for the revolution. Beyond this, a movement of this type in Mexico will strengthen the shift to the left and revolutionary movements across Latin America, strengthen the movement in Venezuela, and find an echo in the United States. However, if they attempt to block Obrador as a presidential candidate, the masses, who are already fully aware of the intrigues of the US, will take to the streets in the defence of the political sovereignty of the country, in the defence of a popular mayor of Mexico City who is perceived as being dedicated to the poor, and against imperialism. This could even force the US and Mexican ruling class to reverse the decision, and allow him to run for president. This would mean that he would then have the support of an even more radicalized mass movement. As Marx once famously wrote the revolution needs the whip of the counter-revolution – this is undoubtedly true. The whip of the counter-revolution in Mexico could very quickly lead to a revolutionary situation – which would of course threaten all of the interests of imperialism and become a pole of attraction for all the oppressed of the world. Either way, no matter what they decide, Mexican capitalism and US imperialism are facing an anti-imperialist, democratic mass movement.

No matter the outcome, the Mexican workers and poor can only rely on themselves and their own organizations. They must link the struggle in support of Obrador with the struggle against imperialism and capitalism, they must take this fight into their trade unions and the PRD. The action committees in defence of Obrador and the PRD action committees that have spontaneously sprung up around the country, demonstrate the creative genius of the working class. These organs of struggle must be extended around the entire country and linked up on a national level in order to coordinate the struggle nationally. When the Mexican workers and peasants organize and move in a decisive way, with the Latin American workers and peasants behind them, no force on earth will be able to stop them.

March 28, 2005

Update, April 4, 2005: If there is an impeachment, there will be a revolution!

The above article was written last Monday, March 28. Since then, events have been moving fast. The four-member Congressional committee decided last Wednesday, March 30, to delay the decision on the ruling until Friday, April 1. Clearly, the PRI, the PAN and the ruling class were concerned about the reaction of the masses. Mass rallies had been planned for the day, regardless of the decision. There was some concern on the part of the ruling class that if the decision to go ahead with the desafuero was made, that there would be mass demonstrations across the country – and no one was sure where this would lead. With the mass opposition to the desafuero, there is concern on the part of all political parties and the ruling class that Mexico could see similar events to those in Venezuela with mass demonstrations and the development of a mass revolutionary movement, and there has been talk of the setting up of road blockades and barricades on the part of the masses. Even the PRD leaders, clearly worried about and fearful of the consequences of mass demonstrations, and worried that things “could get out of hand” and that they would lose control of the situation, called off the demonstrations for Wednesday. The delay in the ruling and the lack of lead given by the heads of the PRD cut across the mood of the masses.

There was speculation in the lead-up to the ruling that the two PRI members of the four-man committee would split their vote and effectively kill the desafuero process. However the pressure of the ruling class was far too great on the PRI, and on Friday, April 1, the four-member committee voted 3-1 (the PAN and PRI members voted in favour and the PRD member voted against) to continue with the desafuero process. There have been rumours that the change of direction of the PRI was a result of a secret agreement between the government of Vincente Fox and the PRI. The announcement was made on Saturday, where the 3 members in favour of the process recommended that the mayor stand trial based on charges that he ignored a court order to stop construction on a road to a local hospital.

The decision of the congressional committee now refers the process to Congress itself, which will vote on Thursday whether to continue with the impeachment or not. Obrador will be called to the Chamber of Deputies to argue his case before the vote. As explained in the article above, if Congress votes to continue with the process, his political immunity from prosecution would be removed, he would be barred from running for office, and would also be removed from office, which would mean that the Senate would then appoint a replacement mayor of Mexico City.

Although the PRD leadership did not call for mass demonstrations against the ruling, and in spite of the lack of information and confusion, and despite the fact that the decision was not announced until the following day (in order to prevent the anger of the masses from spilling over into mass demonstrations) there were spontaneous mass demonstrations against the ruling on Friday. Thousands and thousands of people streamed into the Zocalo main square in front of congress. In spite of the timid lead given by the PRD, who were vainly hoping that the PRI would split the vote, the masses have shown the lead, and shown a clear willingness to fight to defend democracy, and to defend a potential president who promises to bring them change.

The PRD leaders clearly fear a mass movement, and obviously fear the development of a mass revolutionary movement. Obrador has called for a mass demonstration in his defence in the main square in front of the Congress on Thursday April 7. He wants to explain to the masses his plan for continued mass civil disobedience. Although he, like the PRD, has been calling for calm and peace, and has been asking that no roadblocks or anything else too radical be done in his defence, he also said that any violence that does occur will be the fault of the government, as has always been the case. The ruling of the congressional committee, the behaviour of the PRD leaders, and the action of masses tell us a few things: the necessity of democracy in the PRD, that the masses must continue to form action committees in defence of Obrador, and that the struggle of these committees to defend Obrador must be linked to the general struggle to improve the conditions of life, i.e. that they must struggle against capitalism and imperialism. We can also see that it is necessary to mobilize a showing of force of the working class, explaining that it is not enough to vote and necessary to fight. The PRD must be rescued as a fighting force – the PRD and the unions must call a 24-hour general strike to overthrow Fox. The possibility of calling this strike will depend on the unity of the action of the PRD, the action committees, and the unions. The unions, the PRD and the masses must take up the slogan “If there is an impeachment, there will be a revolution!” which was shouted by thousands of people at the Zocalo on Friday.

Great events are being prepared in Mexico. The tide of the Latin American revolution is rolling across the entire continent, and is crashing against the very borders of the United States. The PRD has before it the historic opportunity of transforming the situation and of shifting the correlation of forces decidedly in favour of the working class. The PRD, on the basis of a genuine socialist programme, could mobilize the masses and call for the overthrow of Fox and bring true democracy and socialism to Mexico. The action committees that have sprung up across Mexico must be extended across the entire country and in the factories and places of work. They must be linked up locally, regionally and nationally to coordinate the struggle to improve the conditions of work and life, and to struggle for the transformation of society!

Against the impeachment, overthrow Fox!

If there is an impeachment, there will be a revolution!