During his election campaign, Vicente Fox, the right wing candidate of the Partido Accion Nacional (National Action Party), had promised a huge increase in employment, education, welfare, and peace in Chiapas, etc. Not only that, he also claimed that these changes would be introduced quickly. Campaign slogans like "today, today, today!", "7% economic growth in the first year!", "peace in 15 minutes!", meant that from the moment Fox was elected the workers and youth demanded they be carried out.
Referring to the peace promise in Chiapas, the possibility of a peace agreement in the short term is quite small. An agreement with the EZLN was possible because the leadership of this movement has shown by all means possible their willingness to negotiate. The EZLN's demand for autonomy doesn't demand a profound change in social relations in the countryside and a major concession from the government which would endanger the system and it's legitimacy. Even so, the majority of the president's party, uneasy about appearing too soft, have decided not to give any concessions, and with that the conflict has arrived at a new impasse.
The line of the EZLN of trust in the president and the parliament, has led this movement into a blind alley. After big mobilisations to Mexico city, tiredness and demoralisation is taking hold of the pro-zapatista movement and the only thing that prevents a new offensive from the government against the EZLN is the convulsive situation that they face from other fronts.
Either way for the government or for the EZLN this will only discredit them in the eyes of the youth and the workers.
Only the working class can lead the way out of the blind alley in which the zapatista movement finds itself and avoid a new escalation in the repression against the zapatista bases.
Economy and the workers answer
According to reports for the Bank of Mexico, there was economic growth of 1.9% in the first quarter of last year, compared with 7.9% in 1999. This is a very sharp decline and it is reflected in 160,000 lays off recognised officially and the closure of several enterprises related with the export business. The new economic crisis is a fact, and the Fox's government's response is to use measures that are very well known in Mexico: a new external debt that can be up to 20 thousand millions of dollars, a cut in the budget of more than 3,500 millions of dollars, the threat of privatising state industry, and the proposal to increase the VAT for food and drugs to 15%.
One of the reasons why such new attacks are even possible considering the general level of disgust is that the trade union leaders have not taken up the fight at all. Even so, workers have shown on May Day that the government won't have it easy.
For the first time in history all workers, even the trade unions controlled by the PRI, showed open disgust towards the president's policies, even during an official act, the slogans of protest where so unanimous that the president had to stop several times during his speech.
As was to be expected, the trade union leaders were very careful not to make declarations that could engage them, although, due to the pressure of the rank and file, some of them, like Hernandez Juarez of the trade union of communications, had to say that if the policies of the government continue on the same course, a general strike will be necessary.
Is struggle the solution?
The decline in the image of the president is as strong as the one in the economy. The slowdown in the export market has not been qualified, but as time passes its effects will strike. The government will devalue the currency once again and it will repeat the old method of attack known by the working class, the only difference is that now, the capacity of the trade union leaders to contain the working class is minimal, this time they will have to fight back if they want to preserve they heads on their shoulders, things will be different.
Fox's government will retaliate. The crisis of the USA and Mexico won't leave room for anything other than cuts and this government hasn't got the same means at its disposal that the PRI had. Although their fall is not something that you can predict in the short term, it is not completely out of the picture. The future for the working class in Mexico is the struggle, or there is no future at all.
For more on Mexico, in Spanish, see:
Militante, voz marxista de los trabajadores y la juventud