After Mexican President Felipe Calderon’s fifth state of the nation speech last week, more than 50,000 people gathered in the Zocalo, Mexico City’s main square, to decry policies that have destroyed unions, privatized essential public industries, enriched a small elite and killed more than 50,000 people in the nation’s drug war.
“Mexico’s ‘Indignados’ have had it up to here,” writes journalist and photographer David Bacon, who has covered issues of labor, immigration and international politics for more than 18 years. See his report on Mexican workers’ struggle to resist the privatizing efforts of successive conservative governments and photographs of the demonstration below. —ARK
David Bacon at Truthout:
The hundred organizations that cooperated in organizing the zocalo protest called their rally the National Day of Indignant Mexicans. Their purpose was to present an alternative to the “official” picture painted by Calderon, and to call for a different direction for the country. They charged that, in five years, the number of Mexicans in poverty has grown by ten million, that working income has dropped by a third and that three million more people find themselves jobless. The crisis has hit especially hard at young people, who are the fastest growing segment of the population. Seven million of them can’t find work and have no money to go to school.
Calderon’s policies, which have produced these results, are part of a program of economic liberalization opening Mexico to private, domestic and especially foreign capital. Former Mexico City Mayor Manuel Lopez Obrador, who ran against Calderon five years ago and, most people believe, defeated him, says these reforms have been “imposed on Mexico from outside over the last two decades, including labor law reform, energy reform, fiscal reform and education reform.” By outside, Lopez Obrador means from the colossus of the north - the US. In the wake of the implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1994, Mexico underwent a terrible economic crisis in which it lost a million jobs in a single year. The Clinton administration bailed out the government and its bondholders and, in the end, Mexico lost its financial system to Wall Street and London banks. Since then, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank have indirectly written Mexico’s economic policies.
Flickr / Brenmorado
A protester holds a list of student demands at a demonstration in the Zocalo in Mexico City in the spring.