Preparing for the civic strike

This article was originally published in Spanish in the runup to the a strike in Mexico on 17 March.

The struggle that has unfolded over the course of the past year against el gasolinazo [sharp rise in fuel prices] is considerably multifaceted. On the one hand, we have witnessed thousands taking to the streets throughout the country, forcefully demonstrating that they've had enough of the government policies and, more generally, of capitalism.

On the other hand, this spontaneous movement has pulled a new stratum of society onto the streets. Largely made up of comrades with little mobilization experience who move in uncertain directions, these new crowds deduce their strategies for the movement mostly through trial and error processes.

The movement's weakness lies in its disorganization; it lacks cohesive national leadership and a defined political direction. This ultimately results in the wearing and tearing of movement that up until now has only had any impact through small gains—like temporarily delaying subsequent hikes in gas prices—but has not achieved its most important objective: the overthrow of Peña Nieto's government.

Through organized gatherings, meetings, and assemblies, the movement's trial and error methods eventually bred a common discussion about the need for a general (or civic) strike.

More specifically, out of the second National Assembly of Citizen Resistance (held in Ixmiquilpan, where the government repressed and then murdered two protestors) emerged a plan of action that explicitly called for a national civic strike on 17th March.

This is a very important step forward for the movement. Putting a national general strike on the table, raises the question of who is really in charge in society. A strike, by its very nature involves a campaign of disruption and a paralysis of the economy and society as a whole. At the same time, the process of organizing for the strike calls for a greater degree of cohesion amongst the participants within the struggle.

The conveners of the 17th March strike are mostly representatives of social organizations, several trade unions and a number local assemblies which have been thrown up by the movement, somewhat spontaneously, in several states of the republic (representatives from up to 17 states were present at the last National Assembly of Resistance).

This dress rehearsal of a general strike will involve the occupation of toll booths, strike action at a number of education institutions, with students providing the bulk of the demonstrators. However, the key sectors of society necessary to stop activity at the factories are still absent from the struggle.

On the 17th, the National Coordinator of Workers in Education (CNTE) will join the strike, which will surely enable the movement to carry out a partial shut down of society in some states. Social organizations will also occupy the main highway entrances into Mexico City. However, if what we want is a complete civic shutdown or a mass-scale strike, organization and agitation efforts must be doubled and operate in conjunction with existing democratic unions—they must carry out more work outside factory gates, encourage independent organizing from workers who are in corrupt government-infiltrated charro trade unions, and organize the unorganized.

This is the key issue at hand: a strike or a shutdown cannot be improvised if the various necessary sectors of society are not mobilized and involved. In other words, the movement will not expand beyond 'just another day within the struggle.' This call for a strike takes place when the movement is already starting to ebb. At best, the most organized and radicalized sectors will take to the streets.

As young revolutionaries, we will join the struggle and do our best to convene assemblies and agitate the public to participate in the strike on 17th March. We may not achieve our desired outcome, but nonetheless, the strike will be a major test on how to respond to future events that will shake up our people.