The case of the 43 missing students has sparked a second revolution in Mexico as the discontent over current socio-economic conditions grows, says John M. Ackerman, Professor at the National Autonomous University of Mexico
SHARMINI PERIES, EXEC. PRODUCER, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I’m Sharmini Peries, coming to you from Baltimore.
One of the 43 students missing in Mexico have been identified by a Argentinian forensics team investigating their disappearances. Search of the students, they have also uncovered a number of mass graves with human remains in narco-controlled area of Mexico. The families of the 43 students and their supporters gathered in tens of thousands again this weekend in Mexico City, some of them calling for the resignation of President Enrique Peña Nieto. The case has come to signify the abuse of authority and corruption that is ingrained into the climate of fear and lawlessness in Mexico.
Now joining us to discuss the latest developments in the case and the protest from Paris, France, is John M. Ackerman. He is professor at the National Autonomous University of Mexico and editor-in-chief of the Mexican Law Review.
As always, thanks for joining us, John.
JOHN ACKERMAN, LAW PROFESSOR, UNAM: Thank you, Sharmini. An honor and a pleasure as always. Yeah.
PERIES: John, let’s start by updating our viewers on the latest development in the case.
ACKERMAN: Yes. Well, they’ve apparently identified the remains of one of the students, but there are a lot of questions about this identification. All they have is a bone, a bones fragment, and a tooth, which the laboratory in Innsbruck, Austria, has identified shares DNA with the family of one of the students from Ayotzinapa. But there’s no clarity that this–these bone fragment was actually found in the place that the attorney general said it was found. There are all sorts of questions about where exactly the bodies were supposedly burned. There’s a real mess. No one is clear. Neither the authorities nor the society trust the versions that are circulating around. And so really this doesn’t look like we’re moving towards closure in this case, but towards more doubt and more mobilization.
And even if they were to find these 43 students dead, which we hope is not the case, this movement has gone way beyond just a question of justice for these two, which is, of course, very important. This has become a widespread movement throughout Mexico, with lots of international solidarity, and in which people are even calling today a second Mexican revolution. This was 100 years ago, 140 years ago the Mexican Revolution. And the movements on the ground in the streets and among the Mexican people are closely mirroring, in fact even symbolically, in terms of dates, the events of the old Mexican revolution, the first Mexican revolution, of 1910.
The most important march recently was on November 20, which was the 104th anniversary of the Mexican Revolution, and this last Saturday, December 6, which is the moment in which one of the parents of the law students openly called for the destitution resignation of Enrique Peña Nieto. But he went beyond that. He said that he was refusing to acknowledge Enrique Peña Nieto as president of the public and calling for generalized civil disobedience.
So this is upscaling the protest much far beyond asking or requesting resignation to actually enacting citizen and popular power. And this is happening all over the country [incompr.] just to that Saturday speech on December 6 was the anniversary, the 100th anniversary of the triumphal entrance of Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata to Mexico City 100 years ago, which was sort of the climax moment of the Mexican Revolution, and so taking direct popular power, not waiting for authorities to resign or step aside. It’s happening all throughout the country, and particularly in Guerrero. At least a dozen, perhaps over 20 municipalities in Guerrero are now controlled by local self-defense groups. Protests have exploded throughout the country. One of the most important universities, the Polytechnic Institute, is now having a new national congress to completely redesign its internal organization and make more democratic student participation within the university. In Chiapas, in Coahuila, and in Sonora in the north of the country, the south and the north of the country, there are very important separate but directly related and inspired struggles around issues of power and control. For instance, the Congress of Sonora was recently taken over by citizen groups, and they just declared themselves a popular congress and immediately destituted–or how do you say that in English?–removed Peña–symbolically removed Peña Nieto from power, as well as the governor of the state of Sonora, signed formal documents which took his power away from him. These are symbolic acts still, but it represents and it signifies a real awakening of civil society in Mexico.
PERIES: So, John, President Nieto is obviously observing all of this and he has revealed a plan to boost the economy in, at least, the southwestern region recently. This is the area where the 43 students went missing. Do you think the plan will address the underlying economic issues that are required at this time?
ACKERMAN: That’s a good question. This ten-point plan is a very insufficient and in fact counterproductive move on the side of Peña Nieto. We can look at it both politically and economically.
Politically it’s a failure because what is a political crisis of his government, the legitimacy [incompr.] his government he is trying to resolve through very minor bureaucratic, technical fixes, like changing the national emergency number from 066 to 911, creating a national identity card. Mexico already has a national identity card, but they’re going to give it a new name and a different procedure for making it, making local police more dependent on state police, municipal and state police. These are all sort of bureaucratic switching of gears and moving things around, administrating the crisis, which is not going to resolve anything when the crisis is political and it’s about legitimacy at its root.
And on the other side he announced new economic programs which aren’t really new either. These new economic programs are basically the expansion of neoliberal policies towards southern Mexico. This is the dream of Vicente Fox. When Vicente Fox, the president from the right-wing PAN Party, who came into power in 2000, when he came into power, he announced something called the Plan Puebla Panamá, the Puebla Panamá Plan, which was basically turning the whole southern part of Mexico, the isthmus, if you want, the /ˈpɛkɪn/ in Oaxaca into a big enclave for the maquilas, bringing the whole model of underdevelopment of the north in Mexico down to the south.
And most importantly–and this is what Peña Nieto’s really trying to do–is disarticulate and weaken the bonds of solidarity and of community development. This is very much of an indigenous historical area, Guerrero and Chiapas and Oaxaca full of community organizing and of revolutionary ideals. So through his sort of economic plan, which is, again, these enclaves for international capital, what he’s trying to do is also have this political project of dearticulating, disarticulating the networks of solidarity which are creating the uprising today.
PERIES: So, John, let’s continue this discussion about the economic plan and whether it’s going to seriously address some of the problems that’s giving life to these kinds of violent criminal activity in areas like Guerrero.
ACKERMAN: Okay. Yeah. Sure. Of course, Sharmini. A pleasure.
PERIES: Thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.
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