Liberation Road

MORENA and the Gasolinazo

Javier Bravo
Guanajuato, México

Bravo offers a brief history of the National Regeneration Movement, MORENA, Mexico’s broad-based left party, and he analyses the explosive mass response to President Peña Nieto’s hiking gas prices on December 28, 2016. He also expresses the demand that the neoliberal Enrique Peña Nieto, who used fraud to “win” the Presidency, and his entire cabinet resign from power.

MORENA was formed in 2009-2010 as a social movement aimed at combating the corruption and impunity from prosecution of the political elite, and their neo-liberal policies that lead to greater impoverishment of the common people. MORENA has supported the candidacies of leftist political candidates for President of the Republic and for governor and deputies; above all MORENA supported the candidacy of Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) in the general election of 2012. Previously, in 2006, President Vicente Fox had used his power to prevent AMLO, a charismatic and popular politician, from running for President,. Recently, AMLO made the decision to leave the PRD, a left alternative to the PRI (which had monopolized political power for decades) which he had helped form in 1989, because it no longer could be considered a party representing the working people of Mexico, and proposed that MORENA be transformed from a national social movement to a political party. His proposal was accepted by a majority vote in local municipal assemblies.

After two national elections that ended with fraudulent results, in 2014 MORENA took the lead of an epic struggle when a series of neoliberal reforms was promulgated against the working people and an array of social sectors were not represented by political parties. One of these reforms was to privatize the nation’s petroleum industry. Prior to 1938, the oilfields and virtually all the exploration, drilling, extraction, refining, distribution and sale of derivatives were held by US and British interests. In1938, the leftist President Lázaro Cárdenas del Río decreed the expropriation of the energy industry from foreign powers and channeled the profits to the nation’s development. Since then, oil had been the main source of revenue for the construction of hospitals, roads, public schools and housing. But now, the government of Enrique Peña Nieto has convinced politicians of the major political parties to betray the nation and privatize the national oil industry, resulting in the dramatic rise in the price of oil at the pump, and money flowing to the owners and not to the people. This is called popularly, the “gasolinazo.”

Our history is filled with heroic acts of resistance and revolution that have transformed the relations of the people to the state. The people have always responded to repression and exploitation with dignity and courage. The 60s and 70s were marked by insurgent guerrilla movements engaged in armed struggle against the state and the immorality of government-imposed poverty in states such as Guerrero. Leaders of these movements saw clearly the direction that capitalism was taking México. During this period, groups of capitalists were consolidating their influence on the political economy of the nation and began the privatization and monopolization of strategic goods and services.

In 1988, Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas, the candidate of a broad and multi-tendency left opposition, won the election for president of the nation. Not surprisingly, his election was nullified by electoral fraud. It was then that the most reviled president of all time, Carlos Salinas de Gortari, became the illegitimate leader of an openly neoliberal government.

The price of gasoline at the pump today is a direct consequence of predatory policies that plundered the nation’s collective wealth for private capitalist profit. Other neoliberal presidents succeeded Salinas, two of whom “won” the national election illegitimately: Felipe de Jesus Calderón Hinojosa of the rightist Partido de Acción Nacional (PAN), and Enrique Peña Nieto of the Partido de la Revolución Institutional (PRI).

The combination of neoliberal measures and electoral fraud has promoted a maturing of people’s collective consciousness and created greater potential for a change of regime. Especially in this last six-year presidential period, mass demonstrations have multiplied in reaction to the cynical corruption of President Peña and his circle whose objective was the privatization of México’s strategic energy resources. Pena Nieto has imposed top-down changes to the public education system, centralizing control and undermining the teachers union. Teachers are a target since they have the largest national union and historically are one of the most militant sectors of the organized working-class. They, along with progressives and popular organizations throughout the country, are fighting back – at the cost of their lives; teachers and students have been killed or disappeared for demonstrating.

The U.S. has not stood idly by. The Zapatista uprising against neoliberalism in 1994 panicked the corrupt Mexican regime and its supporters in Washington DC. Harsh conditions, such as austerity measures that targeted the most vulnerable in society – indigenous peoples, women, children, and working people generally – were attached to the massive 1995 bailout loan given to México by President William Jefferson Clinton.

People’s mass indignation and rage are justified. MORENA has joined with the countless demonstrations that demand the repeal of the neoliberal counter-reforms of this government, the elimination of the gasolinazo, and demands that price increases for fuel be ended.

MORENA believes that a new politics is necessary, a politics that respects the majority of the working people, the discriminated minorities, and our super-exploited natural environment. Policies that support life, that give voice to the victims, faces to the forgotten, and hope to the marginalized describe part of MORENA’s vision.

It is essential to unite in opposing a regime far removed from the people and their pain. It is therefore necessary to raise awareness, to organize and participate with courage in collective actions such as rallies, marches, social networks, information brigades in neighborhoods and communities. MORENA demands that the Congress of the Union end the privatization that strips our society of our remaining democratic rights. Those heading the Executive today – Enrique Peña Nieto and his entire cabinet – must resign immediately. The nation’s leaders must listen to the voice of the working people and their families whose pockets and homes have been looted with impunity for decades. The people are demanding an end to gasolinazo. Mexico’s natural energy resources must be returned to the public, resources that should forever remain in the hands of the people.

Never again a betrayal of the working people of Mexico!