Mexico: the movement continues in the teeth of repression

The strike at the UNAM was broken up by police and thugs, but the struggle is just beginning! On 9th February, almost 300,000 people, above all workers and their families, took to the streets in defence of political prisoners and to demand a satisfactory solution for the student movement.

On 9th February, almost 300,000 people, above all workers and their families, took to the streets in defence of political prisoners and to demand a satisfactory solution for the student movement.

The columns of demonstrators took more than four hours to reach their destination in the Zocalo, the central square of Mexico City. The square proved to be too small to allow all the demonstrators to gather. The most impressive contingent was that of the electricians, who during the first months of the movement had fought shoulder to shoulder with the students. Only under orders from the leadership did they cease to do this, when the government staged a temporary retreat in their proposals for the privatisation of the electricity industry. The hatred towards the government expressed itself in different ways.

The most popular slogans were "take the struggle further!", "towards a general strike!" These were taken up by everybody. Nevertheless, the speakers at the Zocalo did not make a single proposal which would take the movement forward as a united national struggle against the government. Tens of thousands of students in different provincial cities also participated in mobilisations against repression as a clear rejection of the way in which the state decided to put an end to the student movement.

On the same day, the government authorities announced that 600 students would be released. At the same time, a hundred prisoners, considered by the authorities as the ringleaders, were refused bail because they are classified as "socially dangerous elements".

Inside the prisons students are being beaten up and subjected to all kinds of ill-treatment. They have been put together with common criminals, and are continually being beaten up by the latter. On 14th February, despite the fact that all colleges were under police vigilance, these were opened for registration, and the majority of the students, after months on strike, turned up, where a debate was reopened on the future of the struggle, in which the majority participated.

The situation inside the colleges is not an easy one. Before the crackdown on 6th February, the authorities made a few concessions with the intention of creating some kind of consensus for the lifting of the strike. On the other hand, the pressure of the mass media has been overwhelming. No other event in the recent history of Mexico has been subjected to such a mountain of calumnies, which if they were true, would make Hitler appear as innocent as a baby compared to the "monsters of the Central Strike Committee". The movement will have to take into consideration the attitude of hatred towards the authorities and the mass media, but at the same time it must bear in mind the tiredness of the students who feel the need to recommence their studies in one way or another.

The days following the crackdown have been charcaterised by frantic student agitation in all the colleges, in the National Polytechnic Institute (150,000 students), and in the Autonomous University of Mexico, where 24 hour strikes and mass rallies of tens of thousands of students have taken place. In Chapingo the Committee in Defence of Public Education (CEDEP) organised a 48 hour strike in which more than a thousand students blocked the main highway to Mexico City.

On 13th June a public concert of the well known singers, Victor Manuel and Ana Belem, attended by more than 50,000 spectators, turned into a rally for the release of the political prisoners.

Finally, the general atmosphere has put pressure on the leaders of the PRD to make declarations in favour of the imprisoned students. Rosario Robles, Cardenas and Lopez Obrador have demanded the immediate release of more than 300 student prisoners.

However, the problem that nobody wants to face up to is: what do we do now? How can we achieve continuity in the struggle to free the students and defend the students' movement? It is clear that the student movement as a whole is fresh, and outside the UNAM the agitation is spreading. But inside the UNAM, which was the centre of the movement, there is a clear tiredness and it is hard to see how the movement in UNAM on its own can continue at the same frantic pace as during the last ten months.

It's now the turn of the workers movement and especially the leaders of the electricians and the teachers, who based themselves on the student movement to obtain concessions, which were extremely exceptional at the time, and then abandoned it.

The General Strike Council, in line with the proposals made by the CEDEP, is being transformed into a General Council of Action, and the strike committees are being transformed into committees of action, whose role is to maintain the unity of those who participated in the movement and prepare themsleves for what may be a long period of sacrifices in order to avoid dispersion and to provide continuity to the struggle for the release of their comrades and for a democratic, free and public education.

For the time being the Central Strike Committee has called for the formation of a National Front in Defence of Public Education on 19th February. The masses, at least half a million people in the different demonstrations on 9th February, have already shown that they are willing to go further than just demonstrate. However, it is now the turn of the leadership to call a 24 hour general strike against the government's policies. This is the only way to support the heroic struggle of the students. Otherwise, the movement will have to face up to the perspective of a harsh period of resistance.

Long live the struggle of the students!

Form the General Council of Action to continue the struggle!

For a 24 hour general strike!

Release the political prisoners!