Guanajuato the 7th stele


JULY: GUANAJUATO, THE SEVENTH STELE

(The PAN and the Mexico of Change, Part II:

The problem with privatizing the Nation's History is that it's being done by absolute "heretics" - which is what the right-made-government calls the rebels.

If you want to be picked by a "headhunter," you have to be an imbecile with initiative.)

Now, in the second half of the year, it is the gaze which goes first. The hand follows behind, in order to accompany JULY and thus walk one word: GUANAJUATO.

Guanajuato. More than 4 and a half million inhabitants, of whom more than 10,000 are indigenous (according to INEGI figures from 2000): Chichimecas, Otomi's, Mazahuas, Nahuas and Pure'pechas.

Trilling a song by Jose' Alfredo, the cloud-stone enters these lands which saw the birth of the war for Mexican Independence against the Spanish Crown, and which today are the experimental fields for the National policy being promoted by that ill-matched marriage which governs the country (I am referring to the PAN-Fox relationship, don't jump to conclusions).

The rates of poverty in Guanajuato are not very different from those in the other states. According to the 2000 census, 54.01% of the population is existing below the standards for moderate poverty, and 22.79% are in absolute poverty, that is, 76.80% of the population is poor. 47.29% of workers are surviving with less than two minimum wage salaries. At the top of the pyramid, 3.53% of the population is enjoying more than 10 minimum wage salaries. The average number of school years completed is 6.6, below that of the already low national average of 7.7. At the college level, the situation is even more pathetic, with just 3.72% of men, and 3.31% of women, going on to higher education, a lower percentage compared, once again, with the already low national averages of 5.78 and 5.95. In the arena of benefits, the situation is critical: 76.31% receive no benefits, 82.59% do not have medical coverage and 79.30% do not receive seasonal adjustments.

The poorest municipalities are where the majority of the indigenous communities are located. To give one example, there are 11,323 people living in Xichu'. Of these, 25.73% are illiterate; 59% of the population over the age of 15 has not completed elementary school, and 65.75% of houses do not have plumbing.

In the rural environment and in the neighborhoods outside the cities, people are living in deplorable conditions. They lack housing and the most minimal of services. We have the case of Leo'n, which has about 200 marginalized developments. There is a similar situation in Celaya and Irapuato. Unemployment is hitting small and micro-businesses quite hard, as well as all those sources of employment where there are frequent job cutbacks. One example is the leather and shoe industry in Leo'n, which is the primary source of work, and which has been in decline due to the importation of shoes, mostly from China.

These conditions give rise, naturally, to rebellion. In order to confront that rebellion, a "zero tolerance" program was implemented in the state in 2002, which brought together 9 police forces, and resulted in violations being committed against the citizenry. In Leo'n, young punks, graffiti artists, skaters and others mobilized in peaceful protests, and they were met with brutal reprisals from the police in July of last year. There were also protests in Celaya against the program, which detains young people, bringing them before the authorities just because of how they dress.

Guanajuato. Cradle of Independence.

Eager to learn history, the cloud alights above San Miguel de Allende, right on the tip of the cathedral which, it is said, a Mexican builder constructed by copying a postcard of the gothic cathedral in Cologne, Germany. Astonished, the cloud makes itself into stone and discovers, rolling, that, on September 20, 1810, Miguel Hidalgo and his troops camped...in the lobby of the Hotel Real de Minas! Traveling the streets, it finds out that the house where Bustamente was born is a Serfin Bank branch, Ignacio Allende's house is a movie theatre, and the house where the insurgents of that time conspired is now privately owned, and ice cream is being sold there. There is a photo on the wall there, which shows Vicente Fox next to Dolphy Ice Cream's foreign owner. Under the soil of this foreign shop, the Independence of Mexico was plotted. Here, in San Miguel de Allende, the first ayuntamiento of Independent Mexico was constituted: today it has a population of more than 5000 North Americans.

In the street, the wind is playing with a newspaper. It stops for a moment and manages to read:

"We know of and about business, we know what investors need. We are going to make sure that they have security and certainty...We'll be a democratic government and one committed to business (This is a new and resonant definition of the Republic, upon my Sic). A government which, unlike the previous one (Sic which clings to its last weeks of life) knows that it is business, and not government, which make jobs and economic growth" (A novel opinion which takes the last raison d'e^tre away from the workers, campesinos, State businesses and other minute details). President-elect Vicente Fox, to French businessmen. J. M. Venegas, La Jornada, 10/3/2000. (in "Por mi madre, Bohemios," Monsiva'is, Carlos and Villamil, Jenaro).

"We can work together to create the next success story in the world. Be a go-getter, think differently...come see us in order to do business in the new Mexico." President-elect Vicente Fox, to a group of Global Fortune businesspersons. Article by Juan Manuel Venegas, La Jornada, 10/13/2000 (In "Por mi madre, Bohemios").

This is the PAN's and Vicente Fox's political program: turn the Mexican nation and its history into a business with franchises and seasonal discounts.

Just a minute! Aren't the PAN and Vicente Fox fighting? Hasn't there been a confrontation between Fox and La Coyota? Yes and no. Journalist Jesu's Rami'rez Cuevas, of La Jornada - during PAN's internal elections for choosing their president (in early 2002, Luis Felipe Bravo Mena won) - conducted a study of this party (cfr Masiosare, La Jornada supplement in February-March of that year).

The conclusions of the analysis revealed something quite fundamental: "There is no ideological dispute in the PAN. The different groups which make up that party share the same economic, political, social and cultural program. They are divided by political and economic interests."

Not only that: Soledad Loaeza, a researcher from the College of Mexico and National Action Party specialist, stated: "The majority of cabinet officials were chosen for their relationships with the religious organizations which make up part of President Fox's elite. Others were chosen by high ranking executives' election offices (which are, of course, condemned). These persons are not identified with the federal government, nor with the PAN. I have the impression," she went on, "that the Legionnaires of Christ and Opus Dei are religious orders which are very influential in the cabinet at the present time. They are very powerful networks within the government, and they are outside party control. And that irritates PANistas. They are pressure groups which have been able to establish themselves in the government in a very effective manner." Further on, she noted: "The fact that the recruitment of officials is not done through the PAN, but is a matter for these religious ! networks, I believe that is a factor which creates difficulties with relationships with the party. These religious groups, who have incredible strength, have replaced meritocracy inside the government." (Rami'rez Cuevas, J. op. cit.).

If this is so, then the fight between Fox and La Coyota is, in reality, a fight between the most reactionary sectors of the Catholic church, on the one hand, and drug trafficking on the other.

La Coyota's gang has a twofold interest in this fight. In addition to attaining better positions (and advantages for their "clients"), the PAN is desperately trying to see to it that Fox's drop in popularity does not drag them down in the next federal election (one year after that July 2 of the "change," PAN has lost a million votes). As if National Action were lacking in "arguments" (in the guise of deputies, senators, municipal presidents, governors and secretaries of state) for convincing electors to vote NO for that party.

Hmm. The Catholic right. Comprehensive Human Development and Citizens Action (DHIAC), one of Opus Dei's tentacles, has "snuck" persons like Luis Felipe Bravo Mena (one of La Coyota's peons and president of National Action) into PAN. And the Legionnaires of Christ, that of the pedophile Maciel, are even higher up, close, very close, to Vicente Fox.

The Catholic right's eagerness to get their hands on Power is nothing new. It had been kept under control previously by a principle of the Republic: the Secular State. But, like many other principles, the secularism of the Mexican State has become nothing but a joke.

"In the Fama II development, of the PAN ayuntamiento Santa Catarina, a public plaza was baptized (in the full meaning of the term) with the name Sacred Heart...In the municipality of Bustamente, Nuevo Leo'n, the PAN mayor decided that, instead of a statue of Jua'rez, there should be a sculpture of the Archangel Michael in the main plaza, and it was inaugurated by the governor. The mayor of Bustamente, Jorge Santos Gutie'rrez, believed that everyone who was against the Archangel Michael being placed there instead of Jua'rez, should be arrested..." In El Diario de Monterrey, 9/8/2000. (In "Por mi madre, Bohemios").

"- The PAN would accommodate conservative groups?"

"- There's no room for them here. This isn't a corporatist party (How good that he clarifies the matter. The Ed.) It's a party of citizens who respect its statutes and guidelines."

"- But those groups, aren't they achieving a greater presence?"

"- We have very strong institution here. What happens in other organizations doesn't matter to us (Including, just imagine, we didn't even know about the existence of the PRI until a few days ago. The helpful Ed.). There are no groups here. What happens in the PAN is that it's men of good faith (the women are the malevolent ones. The Ed.) who join. Opus Dei and the Legionnaires of Christ have another purpose in life. They're not a political party! (Their other purpose is that vow of poverty? The ignorant Ed.)

"- Isn't it the moment for National Action to distance itself from those groups?"

"- And what am I doing right now! Saying that the PAN is one thing and those groups are another thing. (Or that they're not the same? The Ed.)."

"- Then the National Action party distances itself?"

"- We are not distancing ourselves. We are a political party of citizens, not of corporations. (The Ed. recalls the distancing of a moment ago, and distances himself from his memory). If they're going to tell me that some persons in PAN are part of Opus Dei, then yes, those are decisions which are outside the realm, because someone has the right to engage in those matters which concern him, but here, in National Action, we have a political doctrine, some guidelines which are respected and fulfilled." (Not wanting to bother you, but wouldn't it have been easier to answer a question, the previous one?) Jorge Ocejo Moreno, Secretary General of the PAN. La Jornada, 8/31/2000 (in "Por mi madre, Bohemios").

"Some people"? Take a look at the cabinet (or at its statements, which would be funny if it were not the government), and at the bellicosity of those groups which shine with stupidity, that is, with their right-wing views. In addition to Se~ora Marta Sahagu'n de Fox (the same one who, still being spokesperson, stated that they are not going to allow non-impunity in Mexico) and to Carlos Abascal (that Secretary of Labor who gets time off for handing out blessings), there are other, equally incredible, characters:

Santiago Creel, better known as the "Mexican psychopath" (in honor of the plot of the movie American Psychopath, which relates the dreams-realities of a yuppie who is avid for blood). Se~or Creel has two young students in jail, the brothers Cereso, who stand unjustly accused of the fireworks which were set off at bank branches. These young persons are in jail only so that "Secretary Armani" (as he is known on the social pages) can look in the mirror and say "You're so bad!", and so that he can have better arguments for convincing the gentlemen of money that he would be a good president.

Julio Frenk, alias "Doctor No." He promoted his candidacy for directing the World Health Organization with cards stained with the blood of the dead children in Comita'n, Chiapas.

Derbez, alias "Who?" He's in the Department of External Relations because Jorge Casta~eda decided to start his presidential campaign now.

Josefina Va'zquez Mota, also known as the "Merry Widow." She is one of the best examples that intelligence isn't necessary to be a member of the cabinet. It gets in the way, in fact (intelligence, not Se~ora Va'zquez Mota). The Secretary of Social Development, demonstrating her knowledge of dialect, stated that "poverty and human dignity are counterposed." And so those Mexicans who are poor and dignified (like the indigenous) do not exist.

And others which litter the statements, incompetence and stupidity of Vicente Fox's and the PAN's government program.

What? Are you feeling let down by the government of "change?" Here are two memory pills (take one upon going to bed and another upon awakening):

"The groups with the least income have capital, but it is dead capital. (Could it be those chickens buried underneath the patios? The Ed.), capital which is only useful in its physical dimension (Sic which squanders its symbolic guarantee), capital which cannot be used as security for loans or as a counterpart of an investment (And so loans aren't given to laborers? Incredulous Ed.)...6.6 million micro-businesses - and capital which is 30 times greater than the direct foreign investment we receive every year in this country - represent great opportunities for our development as a nation. (And now there's nothing else needed in order to persuade the great holding companies to make a little room for the micro-businesses. The tiny Ed.). If it goes on like this, the assets which the great majority of Mexican men and women have gone to great effort to accumulate will continue being put to limited use. They will continue to be dead capital (What a revelation! So the country is! mostly made up of people with assets but with dead capital. Tycoons swimming in poverty. The Ed.). I propose reforming the legal system which has been hostile to the poor, which does not allow them to capitalize and to participate in the economy, the markets and business." (And so it is the legal system, the Constitution of the Republic, for starters, which are the cause of poverty. Then abolish the laws, now). President-elect (at that time) Vicente Fox. Article by Daniel Moreno, Reforma, 10/16/2000. (in "Por mi madre, Bohemios)

"(To the Chihuahua teachers who are demanding a salary increase with the cry of 'Today, today, today!') Today is very difficult!" President Vicente Fox. La Jornada, 12/14/2000. (in "Por mi madre, Bohemios")

And, lightning fast now, here is another memory pill for El Caribe: "I know him (Vicente Fox). I spoke with him for seven hours one morning, about ecology, about the state of Guanajuato. (If we take as a measure those 15 minutes which it was going to take the President-elect to resolve Chiapas, that gave him time for successfully facing 28 serious problems. The Ed.). I'm used to talking with those on the left and on the right. I haven't done badly in relations with conservative and leftist governments." Fidel Castro. El Universal, 10/31/2000. (in "Por mi madre, Bohemios") (Underlining by the cloud-stone, which always has a tape recorder at hand now - well, one learns).

"Guanajuato is everything," Medina Plascencia said before losing the internal elections for the PAN leadership.

If this is so, then "The fight is everything." On the one hand, those who want to replicate the model of exploitation, repression and intolerance of Guanajuato throughout the country. And, on the other, those who resist, and struggle and mobilize, for example, in...

Salamanca. In Salamanca, all the water is polluted with arsenic, hydrocarbons, benzene, sulfur, mercury, toxaphene, DDT, malathion, parathion, etc. This water is used for domestic consumption. The main polluters are Pemex and the Tekchem company. The municipal government has not implemented a program for bringing in unpolluted water from other places, and there have been deaths from cancer. Pemex began the Coraleros Project in order to bring water from the rural community of Coraleros (some 20 kms. from the city of Salamanca). The project was not, however, completed, they say because the funds ran out. Nonetheless, Pemex gave financial support to the "Adopt a Work of Art" Project. Thanks to this, the former San Juan convent was restored and turned into the National Center of the Arts, which was inaugurated by the mini-kings of Spain, Fox, Martita, the governor and municipal officials, in October of 2002.

The organization Dedication to the Environment and Environmental Improvement (DAME A.C.) is fighting against the contamination from companies like Tekchem and against the Zero Tolerance law (if someone is out and about after 10 at night, they can be picked up if their clothing isn't in accordance with officials' criteria). On the first of January, celebrating 9 years of the zapatista uprising and the 400 years since the founding of Salamanca, a woman recounted to an audience the drama that has been caused by the contamination: women dead of liver and lung cancer, cancer in the blood and in the skin (Salamanca has the highest rate of these cancers in the state and nation), breast cancer and other illnesses, like polyglobulina (an excessive amount of red corpuscles due to insufficient oxygenation).

Various organizations are working in the design of an environmental contingency plan for Salamanca and in a course-workshop for first responders in the event of accidents with chemicals and/or poisons. Although it seems incredible, Salamanca does not have an environmental contingency plan, and there are, of course, no doctors who are familiar with the proper measures which should be followed in the event of poisonings by some of the products which the industries make or with which they work.

A meeting was recently held in the neighborhood of La Cruz, which is across from Tekchem. Officials from the Departments of Social Development and Ecology and from the Resistol and Tekchem companies were there in order to present "environmental projects," such as planting little trees, picking up trash and other cosmetics. Officials tried to silence the voices of protests, even grabbing the microphone, but the people questioned them forcefully, causing them to run away.

In the Roque Ranch (some 6 kms. from Celaya), a movement arose which had been motivated by the loss of 105 hectares that had been used as an experimental field for the Agricultural Technological Institute #33, which had previously been the Roque normal school. This began on May 15, when a group of campesinos from the area took the land away from the school in order to sell it. The largest demonstration took place this February 7, and it included students, teachers, workers and parents.

Last March, in the city of Leon, Coordinated Youth Against Authoritarianism began mobilizations against the Zero Tolerance program. The women of Jococa held a press conference in the independent theatre, La Floracio'n del Mezquite, and there they read a document in which they criticized statements by Governor Juan Carlos Romero Hicks, by Luis Ernesto Ayala, by the Social Development administrator, Araceli Cabrera, and by businessman Jorge Videgaray Verdad. They sent a message to all of them: "We don't want you to give us a hand, we want you to get off our backs. The goal of our movement isn't to ask for spaces, nor to beg for crumbs in exchange for silence, but to do away with the abuse of authority, with repression and with authoritarianism. We ourselves are going to create the cultural spaces we need, and we are going to denounce and overcome any obstacles."

There are other organizations in resistance: the Francisco Villa Salamanca Civic Union, the Guanajuato Movement in Struggle Against Neoliberalism (Silao), CEDASA and CODHOMAC (Dolores Hidalgo), Citizens Movement (Celaya), Coordinating Group of Independent Civil Organizations (Celaya) and Casa Erandi (Aca'mbaro).

The fight for water is taking place in many municipalities, in some places because of its scarcity, and in others, like Romita, because it is being taken away from its residents in order to negotiate it with industries like the bottling companies of Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Corona Beer. In June of last year, recognition was withdrawn from the PAN mayor, and the populace created an autonomous popular government, which, along with the Environmental Council of the Silao-Romita Aqueduct, led one of the most important popular movements in Guanajuato. The looting of water is leaving Romita even worse off than Leo'n, which has reserves in good condition, and which is not exploiting them. The interests of PAN municipal (Romita, Leo'n), state and federal governments include the interests of the tanning and shoe industries, among the most prominent being Medina Plascencia and Fox boots. The water pollution in Leo'n caused by industry is quite serious: let us remember the incident in th! e Silva dam, the death of the Canadian and Siberian ducks; the heavy metals and industrial waste, in addition to the salt which is used in the tannery, 2000 liters per hide, which is returned to the water unfit for human consumption.

On June 18, 2002, Governor Romero Hicks ordered reprisals against the town of Romita. The results? More than 200 persons detained, in addition to those injured from the use of dogs, gas and helicopters, with children, women and old persons being badly beaten. They went into homes in order to gas the populace. On the 22nd, a huge silent demonstration took place, with more than 4000 Romita residents repudiating the action. And, as they then say, the struggle continues. The echo of the Romita cry can still be heard: "Whose water is it? Romita's!"

And the stone and the cloud lift up in flight, making their way from Romita, Guanajuato, in order to reach another Rome, in Italy, where there will be a demonstration against the war on February 15.

From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast.
Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos
Mexico, January of 2003.

Originally published in Spanish by the EZLN 
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Translated by irlandesa 

 


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