The year 2004 is beginning and with it also the second half of Vicente Fox's term in office. On the international level, turbulence and crises on all levels will be on the agenda. While it is certain that there is a possibility of economic growth, this does not mean that the crisis of Mexican capitalism has been resolved, nor that stability will be possible. On November 27, for the first time, a packed public square chanted the slogan of a general strike. But this is only the beginning; the principal struggles of the workers, in defense of their economic interests, as well as against the capitalist system, have barely started.

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.

On the same day that Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador officially announced his intention to run for the presidency in front of some 500,000 supporters, he was also stripped of his political immunity, and could face trial over charges for ignoring a court order to stop building a road to a hospital. If the case against him is not resolved before the middle of January 2006, he will be ineligible to run in the campaign next year.

Forty years ago, on January 1st 1959 a general strike paralysed Cuba and forced dictator Batista to flee the country. In a few days the July 26 Movement guerrillas, led by Fidel Castro and Ernesto Che Guevara entered the capital Havana and were received as heroes by the masses. The Cuban revolution had succeeded. What was the programme of that movement? What was the social basis of that revolution? In order to understand these and other questions we must look back a few years.

After a week of mass mobilisation, demonstrations, strikes and clashes, on Friday 21st of January tens of thousands of Indians, peasants, workers and students in Ecuador took over one by one the buildings of the Parliament, the Supreme Court and the National Palace and established an alternative government. Faced with these events the world's mass media, which had remained silent for the whole week, started to scream that a military coup had overthrown the government of president Jamil Mahuad. It is therefore necessary to clarify first of all that what has happened in Ecuador in the last week is a revolution.

Since the revolution in January, in which the masses took power for a few hours and were betrayed, Ecuador seems to have returned to normal. The new president Noboa gave the go-ahead to a package of laws which mean the "dollarisation" of the economy, the deregulation of the labour market and massive privatisations. But inevitably, these measures are preparing the way for a new social explosion.

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