AMLO outside the Senate, Monday, October 26

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

Sunday, April 13, 2008

López Obrador's Speech in the Zocalo

López Obrador's speech at today's assembly in the Zócalo in Mexico City summed up the fundamental tenets of the nation's burgeoning civil resistance movement against oil privatization, so I thought it would be useful to present a rough translation of it here:

"My friends. Many thanks once again for your participation. The call for this assembly was made just three days ago, and here we all are.

"Our movement is advancing with serenity and optimism, because time has shown that we are in the right. This movement, made up of free and conscious men and women, has on its side the indisputable fact that we are speaking the truth as opposed to an adversary who has opted for the hackneyed road of simulation and deceit.

"In this battle being fought in defense of our oil, we have little by little been exposing those who, moved by greed and the profit motive, wish to strip the people of Mexico of its heritage; the heritage of this generation and the heritage of future generations, of our children.

"We were the first to denounce the plan to mug the Nation that was being hatched. We said very clearly that the intention was to privatize the oil industry and we called upon those who we consider to be the principal promotors of this felony and treason against the Nation to debate it.

"None of them responded openly. As always, they had their followers speak for them and launched instead another of their media campaigns against us.

"They accused us of hallucinating, of seeing ghosts, of tilting against windmills, of looking for notoriety for political reasons. 'What privatization?' they exclaimed. 'What reform? What initiative?'

"When we made it known that they were preparing a video of the so-called 'hidden treasure in the deep sea', first they denied it and then, cynically, put it on the air in an attempt to thus trick the people of Mexico.

"From that moment on, they started using euphemisms in an attempt to hide the privatization they were hatching, by using a series of terms and phrases, those past and those yet to come.

"They talked of association, alliances, accompaniment, opening-up, manufacturing, permits, risk contracts, multiple-services contracts, third-party contracts, widened-service contracts, operating autonomy, anything that would help them hide their genuine intentions.

"Only later did they fully take off the mask and stop beating around the bush. Last Wednesday, the usurping President sent his energy-reform initative to the Senate, and his desire to privatize the totality of the national oil industry is now undeniable.

"What was clear before now becamse crystal-clear: their wish to consummate one of the biggest affronts that the people of Mexico have suffered in their entire history.

"This explains Calderón's nervousness when he appeared on national television to talk about his proposal. This is why he was sweating and so unsure of himself. Inside he knew that he is very close to the role played, in his time, by Antonio López de Santa Anna.

"What do these reforms translate into and really mean? What they mean is that they want to modify the secondary laws in violation of both the letter and spirit of Article 27 of the Constitution.

"They propose to grant permits to foreign companies to privatize the exploration, perforation, refining, petrochemistry, transportation, ducts and storage of oil products, leaving Pemex as a simple provider of crude oil.
"They wish to eliminate the possibility of using all of the potential of our energy sector to carry out the independent economic development our country needs.

"They wish to condemn us to only selling raw material, without ever being able to use it to produce gasoline, petro-chemical products and electrical energy for ourselves and in this way industrialize Mexico, create jobs, strengthen our internal market, reduce prices for the consumers of natural gas, electricity, gasoline and, especially, raise our people's levels of well-being.

"And if that weren't enough, they propose a legal framework that not only grants rights to foreign companies and requires us to submit to international courts, it allows the highest governmental functionaries to wield a free hand in making lucrative business deals, raising corruption in Pemex to a whole other level.

"For example, it is proposed that there not be public bidding, that contracts for projects and services be assigned directly. That is to say, Calderón, Mouriño, Elías Ayub and others will be able to keep feeding themselves with a very large spoon.

"Here I just wish to remind us all of the following irrefutable facts, which I enumerate:

"1. The first contract for multiple services which was granted, in violation of the Constitution, to a foreign company was made when Felipe Calderón was the Secretary of Energy and president of the Council of Administration for Pemex. On November 14th, 2003, without any other company participating in the bidding, Repsol of Spain was awarded a contract for $2 billion, 437 million dollars to exploit natural gas reserves in the Cuenca de Burgos. This contract is currently, by the way, in litigation in the courts for unconstitutionality.

"2. Recently, the Federal Bureau of Audits denounced the damage to Pemex's finances when Calderón was Secretary of Energy and president of the Council of Administration for Pemex, when they made a low-price sale in bonds of the stocks that Pemex holds in Repsol of Spain. Months later, those stocks increased in value, provoking a loss for Pemex of $655 million dollars.

"3. This plainly demonstrates that Juan Camilo Mouriño, current Government Secretary in the usurping government, is a confessed influence-trafficker: he has cynically accepted signing contracts with Pemex to the benefit of his family's business. And we must point out here - it is important to call a spade a spade - that in the face of such a flagrant case of impunity, our detractors on the radio and television, who are constantly screeching about us, have been as quiet as mummies.

"4. We also have proof that the contract awarded by the Federal Electricity Commission to Repsol of Spain, without their being any other bids, for $21 billion 650 million dollars for the purchase of gas from Peru, the profits for which will be $15 billion dollars, was authorized from Los Pinos [the Presidential residence], in 2007, when Juan Camilo Mouriño was the coordinator of the President's Office.

"5. And if all that weren't enough, we are also in possession of proof that even before the reform bill was sent to the Senate and Calderón began talking about the oil bonds that the public will supposedly be able to acquire, before all that, bankers and financial speculators were already making the details known confidencially to their main friends in the trade. That is to say, ahead of time and with privileged information, bankers and financial speculators were already rubbing their hands in preparation.

"As is clear, behind and ahead of the thirst for privatization is the voracity of a minority of corrupt politicians along with a handful of national tycoons in association with foreign companies.

"This is why we have come out against oil privatization. This explains why the peaceful civil resistance has come into being. Fortunately, we were able to see what was coming and made good use of our time, not only to denounce this attempt at dispossession but also to organize ourselves in order to prevent it.

"Last Thursday, in a coordinated, unified and simultaneous manner, the actions of peaceful civil resistance began.

"The first measure was taken by our Senators who occupied the rostrum of the Senate. A round of applause to all of the Senators.

"And immediately following the members of Congress from the Broad Progressive Front did the same in their chamber in support of their colleagues. A round of applause for our Members of Congress.

"All of this was accompanied by the extraordinary, generous and exemplary action of the women's brigades. A round of applause for the women.

"The woman brigadeers were themselves supported by the men who make up the brigades from Mexico City and the surrounding metropolitan area in the State of Mexico.

"We have depended upon the solidarity of many millions of Mexicans, free and conscious women and men. A round of applause for everyone in Mexico who has participated in this movement, for all of the progressive sectors.

"This is why they haven't been able to destroy us politically. Let me repeat here the words of President Juárez: 'With the people, everything; without the people, nothing.' This is where our strength lies.

"With the first actions of peaceful civil resistance and with the support of many, including those with whom we have some differences but with whom we are in full agreement in the defense of our oil, we have succeeded in casting away the risk of a surprise attack in the legislature.

"And now this bill is not going to get snuck through in the early-morning hours!

"Let us not forget, and let this help to explain why we are taking the actions we are. What do they want? They want to approve this on the fast track, like they did with the ISSSTE [Pension] Law. They want to make a deal among the leadership and sneak through something as fundamental and vital as the oil issue is.

"But the opportune action of our legislators and the brigades prevented it. And it is practically a fact that they will not be able to approve any give-away iniative in the current session, which ends on April 30th. Not one step forward, my friends.

"However, we cannot become complacent. We know how our adversaries think and act, but we especially know how much greed they possess, their hunger for money.

"Let me make it clear what our principal deamand is. What we want is something that is completely rational, peaceful and possible. I repeat: rational, peaceful and possible.

"What we are demanding is the summoning of a national debate. We are demanding the summoning of a national, plural and democratic debate with the participation of all of society. An unrushed, non-simulated debate, open to everyone who has something to say, with the understanding that oil is the property of every Mexican, and thus, everyone has the right to express their opinion on it.

"It may be that the Senators and Congresspeople have the final word, but the people of Mexico will always have the first word.

"We cannot, in any way and for any reason, accept that a few wish to rob the Mexicans of their heritage, and much less that this robbing take place behind their backs.

"My friends: as long as there is no response to our request for a broad, national debate on oil and what it implies as regards sovereignty, history, legality, corruption, development, well-being and social peace, we will continue with the peaceful civil resistance.

"This coming Tuesday we are going to be attentive to what happens in the Senate Chamber; upon that depends the actions that we will be taking. All of us are in peaceful civil resistance, all of us attentive and alert.

"I also propose that all of the state brigades, women and men, as well as those who wish to voluntarily join in, that we dedicate ourselves to informing the people of Mexico, letting them know our reasons and the grave consequences privatization of the oil industry would have.

"For this reason, starting this week, we will be distributing a folder of basic information which will serve as a tool for brigade members and citizens in general to generate consciousness-raising house by house, neighborhood by neighborhood, district by district, town by town.

"Are we going to do it? (The people respond yes.)

"Faced with a closed media, each one of us will become a means of communication. Faced with deceit and manipulation, we will take charge of opening a breach for the truth and penetrating the most distant corners of our Nation.

"I further propose, because the circumstances demand it, that next Sunday we hold informational assemblies in all of the main public squares in the country. These meetings will be organized by the National Committee in Defense of Oil and the state Commitees in Defense of Oil.

"I make a call once again, friends, to not allow yourselves to be provoked. Not one broken window, not one throwing of a stone. Only those who are not in the right need to make use of force. They are the violent ones, not us. This movement has been, is and will continue to be peaceful.

"My friends: as we know - we have said it several times here - and as we predicted, the media campaign against us has intensified since last Thursday. It is clear and out in the open, in the majority of the media, with honorable exceptions. They have hit us with everything.

"With great hypocrisy, using double-speak and dual morality, with the hypocrisy that is their trademark, they have dedicated themselves to throwing up their hands in horror and attacking and offending us in a vulgar manner.

"In midst of all this clamor, what is that one hears, what do they allege? They say that our legislators have hijacked Congress.

"But we ask this question: is it possible for a Senator or Congressperson to stand there with their arms crossed while the Constitution, which they have taken an oath to protect and defend, is violated?

"Is it not the powerful, the tycoons of this country, those who have hijacked the institutions for their personal benefit?

"Have they not converted the government of this Republic into a committee at the service of the few?

"With what moral authority do they speak of democracy, when they themselves have been publicly recognizing that they stole the Presidency of the Republic 'whatever it took?'

"They say we have to follow legal procedures, but they deliberately overlook that the majority of the ministers of the Supreme Court of Justice do nothing more than cover up corrupt politicians and white-collar delinquents.

"Of course we know what the legal procedures are when faced with a violation of the Constitution; we have very good Constitutional lawyers.

"Of course we can go to the Court and lodge an appeal on the grounds of unconstitutionality. But we are not naive. Unfortunately, that institution's only role is to put a legal stamp on the looting committed by the powerful.

"In the majority of the media, especially on radio and television, the presenters are also vociferating about our hijacking Congress.

"I ask them: are they not hijackers of the word, of information, the most tenacious manipulators of public opinion?
"Right from this spot let me tell them that their campaigns of hate and political lynching will not stop us.

"They must know what nothing and no one will make us turn into accomplices of the mugging of the people and of the Nation.

"This movement - let this be known, let it be heard near and far - this movement is made up of dignified women and men who do not size themselves up by the measuring stick of traditional politics, but of history.

"In the politics of old, where all interests counted except the public interest, women and men in public life, politicians, had to adjust to the rules of the game. They could not make full exercise of their freedom, they could not think out loud, they were obligated to taking care of their image so as not affect their careers, and to submit to the codes of conduct demanded by established interests.

"Our case is different. For us, what is most important is to maintain our dignity and our principles. We are moved by ideals and convictions, not mere political interests.

"Here, I insist, it doesn't matter if we use up political capital if we succeed in preventing oil from being handed over to foreign companies.

"It doesn't matter if we use up political capital if we succeed in our main goal, that our oil not be handed over to foreign companies.

"As opposed to the right wing, which dehumanizes everything, and in its pursuit of material benefit acts with irresponsability and intolerance, we are at peace with our conscience.

"We know what love for our neighbor means. We know that love means fighting for others and respecting differences.

"And we also know that peace is the fruit of justice and freedom. We know that snatching things away never brings about anything good. And it is precisely for this reason that we maintain that the looting of our oil will create an environment of insatisfaction, farse and frustration, making us live in constant risk of internal confrontation and threats of conflicts with foreign nations.

"In short, we are defending our oil because we want to live in peace.

"Friends: we are trying to create a new kind of politics, based in principles, moral values and respect for the people, where the common good prevails above private interests.

"Along the road to this new way of doing politics, we have had to confront authoritarian power, exerting a counterweight which provides us with moral authority and the support of the people.

"For example, in Congress, the legislators of the Broad Progressive Front do not have the quantitative power of the votes, but their defense of people's causes confers upon them an important moral, qualitative power: the power of veto, the power to oppose and, in the last resort, the right to carry out peaceful civil resistance when their arguments are not taken into consideration in the making of decisions that concern the people and the Nation.

"This counterweight consists, also, in not playing the system's game, that of the traditional politics that has lorded over our country for so long, where everything is resolved up above, in the upper echelons, without taking into account the feelings and needs of the majority.

"My friends: history teaches us that advances in justice, freedom, democracy and sovereignty have only come when the people, the workers, the farmers, the indigenous people, the students and the women have mobilized against national or foreign oppressors.

"Only the people can save the people, only the people can save the Nation.

"Let us continue to struggle together to defend our aspirations for freedom and justice for the people of Mexico."

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