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La Jornada > Cobertura de "La otra campaña"

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martes, abril 10, 2007

The Return of la Otra (Luis Hernández Navarro on Mexico's political landscape as the 2nd. stage of the Other Campaign is launched)

The second phase of The Other Campaign, or "la Otra," as it is affectionately referred to in Mexico, began this Sunday. Seven male and seven female commanders and one subcomandante will once again tour the country. They call for beginning the Global Campaign for the Defense of Autonomous Indigenous and Peasant Lands and Territories in Chiapas, Mexico and the World.

In the Other Campaign's first stage, unexpected circumstances got in the way. First it was the repression in Atenco, which meant temporarily suspending the national tour. Then it was the Oaxacan uprising, which changed the dynamic of social confrontation in the country. Finally, the electoral fraud and Felipe Calderón's triumph were encountered.

Although la Otra's forces were not strong enough to free the Atenco prisoners or manage to punish those responsible, they did achieve organizing a permanent solidarity campaign to avoid the issue being forgotten.

The Oaxaca commune opened a focus of attention in public opinion and the communications media, which meant that media coverage of la Otra, already small, became even more limited. Before Oaxaca, the Zapatistas had problems with the movement's decision to continue its policy of broad alliances, which included Andrés Manuel López Obrador and the PRD, when one of the Other Campaign’s central objectives was to clearly differentiate itself from them.

Finally, the electoral fraud and the triumph of Felipe Calderón modified the scheme in which la Otra was conceived. The Zapatistas thought that the winner in the elections would be Lopez Obrador, and were prepared for that. The fraud changed that result. Subcomandante Marcos denounced the swindle a few hours after it was perpetrated. Nevertheless, the EZLN didn’t take part in the civil resistance actions that took place to try to reverse it. That position put it further away from some members of the la Otra and from a sector of the intelligentsia, usually supportive of it’s positions.

The new phase of la Otra begins in a complex political panorama. In Chiapas, the new governor, Juan Sabines, who formally won the elections with the PRD's initials, has permitted the PRI's recomposition. The former leader of that party, Sami David, heads the state government's Strategic Projects Corporation. The son of the infamous Roberto Albores Guillén was appointed secretary of Economic Promotion. The cattle ranchers' leader and Comitán's municipal president, Jorge Constantino Kanter, has a magnificent relationship with the governor.

At the same time as that recomposition in the state government, the dispute over recuperated lands in the hands of Zapatista support bases has been revived and rearticulated. Armed organizations from the PRI, like the URCI and Opddic, seek to stay on the land which the rebels and democratic campesino organizations work, and they regularly harass their members. "Environmentalist" initiatives, under the pretext of defending the environment, seek to strip away land which they have possessed for years from other campesino groups.

On the national terrain, the Felipe Calderón government has been consolidated in spite of everything. The new ISSSTE law was approved without having to pay too high a political cost in the short term, and it’s fight against drug trafficking, although it may have had few real successes, has been approved by public opinion. Only the rise in the price of tortillas has eroded the presidential image. It still remains to be seen what price he will pay for his attitude in the debate on the decriminalization of abortion in Mexico City.

The Progressive Broad Front (FAP, its initials in Spanish) has not been dissolved. In the chambers [of Congress] it’s members are still voting together on the essentials. Nonetheless, in current state elections, like in Yucatán and Durango, they’re divided. Their participation in the National Democratic Convention (CND, its initials in Spanish) is more formal than real.

The CND's second assembly demonstrates the existence of a significant number of citizens, among whom indignation because of the electoral fraud continues alive, while acknowledging Andrés Manuel López Obrador as their legitimate president.

However, this force seems to have little to do with El Peje's (López Obrador's) national tour, dedicated to building an electoral force alien to people's immediate problems.

Despite the repression in Oaxaca, the APPO still has an undoubted capacity for resistance and mobilization, not enough to force Ulises Ruiz’s resignation but enough to show his illegitimacy. Nevertheless, elections to renew local councils and the local Congress have put many of its members into a markedly electoral dynamic, and into complex and difficult negotiations with the FAP.

All these elements mark the return of la Otra. The Zapatistas, as seen on Sunday 24, possess an undeniable force within Chiapas and great support from outside of Mexico. The participation of Via Campesina at this beginning was notable with messages from Joao Pedro Stedilé and Rafael Alegría. They now have a diagnosis and map of the social and political conflicts that exist in the country that no other political force possesses. In addition, they have a directory and a network of relationships grass roots movements across the whole country, usually ignored by political parties.

If they manage to give a structure and a stable national coordination to those nuclei of resistance that now function separately – nothing is certain in politics – the right-wing's project will run aground. But the gamble will oppose the government's effort to destabilize their territories, the space occupied by CND activism, and the option of diverse social forces in favor of the construction of representative politics through electoral means and the self-isolation of society's middle sectors, is likely. The coming months will be decisive.

[This article was originally published by La Jornada on March 27, 2007.]

Translation: Mary Ann Tenuto-Sánchez

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