Communist Party of Mexico (M-L)

Class Struggle in Mexico:
December 1 Mexico (1DMX) [the date the president takes office], the Battle of San Lazaro

The electoral campaign and the birth of #YoSoy132 (I Am 132)

As Felipe Calderon was finishing his presidential term (2012), the economic crisis and crisis of political legitimacy made it unfeasible for the oligarchy to protect its business with the same party (PAN [National Action Party]), so it chose the return of the PRI [Institutional Revolutionary Party], through a " plastic," easily manipulated, young candidate with an image, who had proved to be a worthy figurehead for its interests in the government and its subjection of their federative entity, [as governor of] the state of Mexico, where he was proud of having suppressed the peasants of Atenco.

The big bourgeoisie faced the presidential elections with a huge skepticism of the people in bourgeois institutions, particularly in the Federal Electoral Institute (IFE) and the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN).

Again, the social democratic candidate, Lopez Obrador, was the opposition, now against Enrique Peña Nieto of the PRI. The PAN candidate, Josefina Vazquez Mota, not only was not an alternative for the oligarchy, but she was not even strongly supported by her own party. In this scenario, the campaigns did not arouse great interest; a significant rate of abstention could be foreseen.

In May 2012, the candidate Pena Nieto appeared at a forum at the private Iberoamerican University. As usual, he filled the auditorium with his paid-for followers and used a teleprompter to answer questions with the aid of advisers. But in the university, some groups of students organized and protested against him. The response of the campaign managers was to minimize the protest, to discredit them and prepare possible threats. However, the student response was stronger, organized and justified the protest, which was supported by thousands and the movement #YoSoy132 was born.

Student demonstrations had been organized previously. In fact weeks before, the primary school teachers, university students in Michoacan and others protested. But as they were from the petty bourgeoisie and not students who were children of workers, they won a place in "public opinion," at the same time as they catalyzed a movement of strong opposition to the regime, to the electoral farce, to the monopoly control of the means of communication, etc. Broad student and popular sectors joined this movement; they won the support of unions and organizations of struggle. They gave the election campaign another meaning, organized their own debate, etc.

As it went into the street, the movement evolved. Now they were not just students from a private university, but it was a genuine student-popular movement that questioned the electoral process and particularly Peña Nieto for his proven inability and his intentions to be imposed as president.

As it developed, #YoSoy132 drew on its experiences, raised its form of organization through assemblies, joined with organizations with a fighting tradition; this strengthened it. There was no shortage of bought-off intellectuals who questioned its relations with trade unions or their former representatives paid for by the television monopolies. Together with other sectors, #YoSoy132 organized the National Convention Against the Imposition to discuss and draw up a program of struggle, it also participated in other unitary efforts such as the Social Congress Towards a New Constituent Assembly (CSHNC). It debated the various internal positions between sectarianism and the need for unity, moving towards an anti-capitalist perspective or just against the monopoly of the media, etc.

Its program of struggle included a blockade of the monopoly Televisa, which was successful, to a mobilization on September 1, when Calderon would submit his final report, and to preventing the imposition of Peña Nieto on December 1.


For December 1st (1D), #YoSoy132 and the mobilized sectors had already assimilated a significant experience; they had been carrying out actions which elevated the class struggle: seizures of tollbooths, demonstrations against the markets and banks that are accomplices in the electoral fraud, mass demonstrations; it also had international support and support of sectors of artists and intellectuals, among others.

On September 1, there was a successful national mobilization, when demonstrations mobilized simultaneously throughout the country, presenting their own report on Calderon’s failed 6-year term. Broad sectors participated in these demonstrations in a unified manner: #YoSoy132, members of Morena (social democracy), CSHNC, communists, socialists, members of local units, unions and peasant organizations. The same was expected for December 1, but in a more combative and organized manner.

In the capital, the leaders of social democracy and reformism called for their own rallies, far from the site of the imposition (the Federal Chamber of Deputies). Lopez Obrador called for a rally at the monument of the Angel of Independence and the PRD [Democratic Revolutionary Party] (social democracy as well) called for a rally at the Monument to the Revolution. Thus, they clearly divided the opposition and sought to disassociate themselves from those surrounding the Federal Chamber of Deputies (San Lazaro) that the mass movement (through its distinct supporters of unity) had called for and was the action most consistent with the fighting trend of the masses.

The Battle of San Lazaro

The San Lazaro siege began very early (6 AM); large contingents of teachers, youth and social organizations were positioned in front of the barriers set up by the Federal Police a week earlier, true "barriers of fear" that reflect the degree of fear that the regime has of the popular masses.

It did not take long for the Federal Police to begin their attack on the mobilized contingent; using tear gas and rubber bullets they tried to disperse them and make them flee. However, the contingent remained united, retreated a few yards, organized a response to the attack and carried out a battle that lasted about five hours. Old and new fighters formed the first line of battle, with stones, sticks, flares, Molotov cocktails, home-made shields and whatever they had at hand (for example, they used an old garbage truck against the barrier) they repelled the rain of tear gas and the direct firing of rubber bullets.

In a second line, dozens of fighters provided them with material for battle (stones, vinegar, coca cola or pepto bismol against the gas), helped the wounded, relieved the first line fighters, shouted in support, chanted slogans to raise people’s spirits, always maintaining a large contingent that gave confidence to the first line.

In a third line was the bulk of the mobilized contingent, thousands of demonstrators protecting the two front lines, united, orderly, from which small brigades continually went out to relieve and support the first two lines.

The aim of the Federal Police to disperse the contingent before Peña Nieto took office, before the imposition was prevented; on the other hand the aim of the movement to show the repudiation of the imposition by maintaining the siege until Peña Nieto took office was fulfilled. Once Peña Nieto took office, the contingent retreated in an organized manner and, in a column of thousands, it headed to a unitary meeting in the centre of the city. So far, the result was several wounded, two of them seriously, and one arrested.

The San Lazaro march towards the centre of the city consisted of thousands; on the path of the highway “Eje uno” (“Axis One”), adjacent to the neighbourhood of Tepito, the rear of the contingent suffered a first attack by the riot police of the Federal District (DF). Store owners and residents of Tepito tore down a barricade, allowing the contingent to advance towards the “Eje central” ("Central Axis") and then towards Avenida Reforma up to the monument "El Caballito" [statue of King Charles IV of Spain on a horse, at Plaza Manuel Tolsa in the city centre], where a unitary meeting took place establishing the position of the movement – the historic centre was surrounded and the repression began.

A second attack took place near the Zocalo [Central Square] – cornering and arresting scattered demonstrators – and a third attack occurred near the Palacio de Bellas Artes [Fine Arts Palace] and the Alameda Park; here, the response was improvised but powerful. A rear contingent of dozens of fighters (many of the people who were just looking were forced to act) faced the riot police, allowing the main contingent to advance and concentrate on Avenue Reforma up to "El Caballito." Having achieved the objective of allowing the main contingent to retreat and to protect it, the rear contingent retreated and dispersed; under orders from Peña Nieto to the Government of the DF, through Mondragon (former head of the Secretariat of Public Security of the DF), the response of the police of the Federal District was widespread repression and indiscriminate arrests. They held more than one hundred political prisoners as hostages under the pretext of "damage" to banks and multinational corporations in the main block of the city, which later would be characterized as a crime of "attacks on the public peace" under Article 362 of the Criminal Code of the DF. Indeed there was damage, but it was promoted and carried out by provocateurs of the police.

The tactic of the federal government now was to divert attention, distorting the "Battle of San Lazaro," to show the protesters as hooligans and criminals, developing an huge campaign of criminalization of social protest that would frighten the movement and the general population, as well as divert the struggle against the Government of the DF, now for the freedom of the political prisoners.

The fascist trend is materializing in which even the PRD (the Government of the DF) is doing its part by taking on the protagonist role in the repression and showing its presidential loyalties to the oligarchy, as if saying to the monopolies: "I can also suppress the rebellious people; I can represent your interests."

Toward this tactic of the regime, again the two trends of the mass movement – for mobilization and demobilization – were expressed as clear class expressions between the proletarian-revolutionary view and the petty-bourgeois cowardly view. The first, with a rally outside the detention centres, demanded the release of the political prisoners by late evening of that very December 1. The second, with a flood of separation from the demonstrations of December 1, in multiple organizations and sectors of the movement, joined the campaign of criminalization of social protest carried out by the federal government and the Federal District against those mobilized on December 1. This trend has simply faded away in a cowardly manner after December 1; some chose to hide, others before demobilizing themselves tried to convince the movements and participants to do the same.

The trend to mobilize continued the fight for the freedom of political prisoners of December 1, with almost daily demonstrations, setting up pickets, carrying out a relentless campaign to clarify what happened on December 1, fighting against the campaign to criminalize social protest, adopting organizational structures for the fight under new conditions (League of Attorneys of December 1, Front of Parents and Relatives of Political Prisoners, Coordinator for December 1). This organization and permanent mobilization achieved the freedom of all political prisoners on December 27, although their release was conditional, Article 362 (which criminalizes social protest) has not been repealed, and there has still been no punishment for those responsible for the repression. However, it is an advance achieved by the pressure of this trend of the movement that gives confidence and perspective to the struggle against the regime. The trend of struggle and fighting continued until the last day of 2012 and the first day of 2013 in the picket set up outside the women's prison of Santa Martha. This led to the specific result of the creation of the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of the East (APPOte), which crowned its birth with a successful first road block, holding back the first attempt at repression by the riot police of the Federal District.

This trend is being reinforced at the beginning of 2013 with the workers and union rallies against the labour reform, expressing massive opposition to this reform (SME [Mexican Union of Electricians], Mexican Union Front, CNTE [National Federation of Education Workers] (teachers), miners, Telephone Workers Union and the National Union of Workers). It is also continuing with the mobilization of January 10 for the full freedom of the political prisoners, punishment of those responsible for the repression, as well as against the regime of Peña Nieto and his structural reforms (labour, educational, energy, taxes, etc.). This trend has been reinforced by the mobilizations in the states in early January, the mobilizations of the youth and people against the rise in urban transport fares in Oaxaca, and against the policy of the state government in Chiapas, among others.

The tasks for the coming period

The masses are still showing the way in the forms of struggle and organization, as the neoliberal offensive is continuing against them; the street protest have become more radical, leading o confrontation with the forces of repression. This will be a trend that will continue defining the mass movement, as seen in other times and which is taking place again based on the experience of December 1. The challenge for the organizations, movements and participants of unity in the class struggle is to know how to correctly orient themselves to raise the forms of struggle and organization, to strengthen the process of the United Front and to correctly project the slogans and political objectives of the moment. This will only be possible by showing willingness to accompany and lead this trend of fighting and mobilization of the masses, while at the same time highlighting the weaknesses and inconsistencies of the positions that call for the demobilization, the harmfulness of this position to the transformations required by the country in the interest of the majority, placing unity at the centre.

One first task for the movement is to prepare national unitary actions against the regime headed by Peña Nieto and his whole fascistic policy of structural reforms and the "carrot and stick": on the one hand he adopts the anti-worker labour reform and the reform to privatize education; on the other hand he calls for a "Pact" between accomplices of the parties of the right and the demagogic "Crusade Against Hunger".

For the Marxist-Leninist communists in Mexico, with Peña Nieto the financial oligarchy is showing its fascist face more strongly; it is manoeuvring while getting rid of its former allies; it is strengthening its support in the military and preparing new blows against the working class and the masses. But as was shown in the fighting of 2006, and was further shown during the 6-year term of Calderon (2006-2012) and very concretely in the fighting in the Battle of San Lazaro, on the side of the revolution there are forces to confront these measures, as well as today the Community Police in several states in the country, genuine popular militias for self-defence, that are paving the way for the proletarian revolution.

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