AMLO outside the Senate, Monday, October 26

Worker's Party Deputy Mario di Costanzo Tears Apart Carstens Economic Plan

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The PRI's Turnaround on Oil

One day after insisting that if Felipe Calderón didn't stop dithering and present his own initiative to "reform" the state-owned oil company PEMEX that they would, the PRI is now insisting that they are not going to play any part in the privatization of PEMEX. Senator Manlio Fabio Beltrones, leader of the PRI faction in the Senate, even went one step further and accused Calderón of manipulating figures and engaging in a misleading public-relations campaign ( in order to trick a hostile public into giving up the farm; one can only wonder if he was as shocked as Captain Renault about the gambling going on in Rick's Café. And to any of us who might be tempted to see this for the 180-degree turnaround that it is, Beltrones scolded the assembled media at yesterday's press conference, for the "lightness" with which many people understand things in poltics. I suppose it would, in fact, be light-headed of anyone to expect a principled position of any kind coming out of the PRI, whose main concern over the last two years, more than oil, the economy or anything else, has been rather to blackmail a weak and illegitimate Calderón into keeping in gainful employment the infamous PRI governors of ill-repute: Puebla's own pederast Mario Marín and Oaxaca's own assassin, Ulisses Ruiz. Support the "family," and it doesn't matter much what else you do in your free time.

This can only be seen as a victory for Andres Manuel López Obrador, who the day before in the Zócalo of Mexico City presented, in an impressively-organized manner, the people's brigades for the defense of PEMEX: 20 groups of 500 women each for a total of 10,000, and 36 further groups totaling 18,000 more mostly-male volunteers, all lined up and ready to go the moment that Calderón stops wringing his hands and dares to present his privatization proposal to the Congress. What does "go" mean? It means citizens' blockades of Congress, airports and highways, everything the movement could have done but chose for the sake of prudence not to do in the aftermath of the fraudulent elections of 2006. This is serious, and should be: with oil topping $100 a barrel and headed for more over the next five to ten years, there is many an oil exec drooling over the chance to stick his rig into this bonanza, not to mention the internal political elite here in Mexico just waiting to go high-on-the-hog with contracts for family businesses and friends (Calderón's Interior Minister, Juan Camilo Mouriño, has already been publicly busted by Obrador for conflicts-of-interest related to shoving PEMEX contracts at family businesses during his time in Congress and in the Energy Ministry under....Calderón himself! Expect much more of the same with privatization). Obrador, whose activism in the oil issue predates his career as an elected official, is fully aware that only massive and hard-hitting public mobilizations will have a chance at stopping the backroom deal-making and pay-offs that would, in their absence, slip the privatization proposal, disguised as "alliances," "cooperation," "participation" or what you will, quickly through Congress like the Patriot Act in the States, preferably without giving any legislator who cared enough to do so the time to read it. And the pressure exerted by these citizens' brigades, even before they have been "deployed," is already starting to pay off.


Jim said...

You are right,we are not tuned in up here. We seem to have our own set of problemos.Question: what happenss if the 18,00 get deployed? Does the Gov respond and take thenm into custody or worse? Also, who is organizing such a large group and what haven't they been squelched?
Can you also explain (briefly) what privitazation would mean to the Mexican people. Would help me to relate better.
Jim aka Shabs
Nice touch with Casablanca reference

Kurt Hackbarth said...

Jim, interesting question. The reason why such a large group hasn't yet been squelched, I believe, is precisely because it is such a large group: 2,800 people in total couldn't be mowed down without a very inconvenient amount of blood and scenes of scores people getting bashed around by the Federal government's robocops. And this would be inconvenient PR for a government who came to power by an electoral coup d'etat in any event and is clinging to it through a series of unholy alliances with a nefarious set of people. Plus, the brigade members haven't done anything "illegal" yet, whatever questionable value any talk of "legality" has in Mexico. Once they start surrounding Congress, the airports and other key areas, however, you can bet that there will be plenty of itchy triggers just waiting to use the pretext of "law and order" and protecting the public peace against the rabble in order to lay into them. That is why it is so essential that the movement be determined, but non-violent. As for the effects of privatization on Mexicans, I will be dealing with that in my next post....

Kurt Hackbarth said...

Make that 28,000 people; not 2,800. I can't even do my own math.