AMLO outside the Senate, Monday, October 26

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

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Dismantling

Would that it were that the pretensions of those who are attempting to privatize Mexico’s oil, both from within and without, were “merely” financial: getting rich on crony capitalism via stakes in the companies who acquire the no-bid spoils provided by the sacking of the state. The grand design, in fact, is not to sack but to dismantle (or rather, to sack while dismantling): that is, to eliminate the Mexican state as a functioning entity in all but name in order for the United States to exercise unlimited dominance over its neighbor’s limited - and therefore all the more vital - natural resources.

In order to understand this, it is important to recognize that Calderon’s privatization proposal comes accompanied with its own escort to the dance of global hegemony: the so-called “Merida Initiative” or “Plan Mexico”, the Bush administration's proposal to provide (for 2008 alone) $500 million dollars in aid for Mexico’s “War on Drugs”. In the same way as with its sister “Plan Colombia,” the Mexican version would commit American aid in the form of weapons and “training” to aid Mexico in its quixotic battle against the very drug problem America itself has created, in the process injecting another jolt into the process of militarization that has had such devastating effects on Mexico since Calderon’s taking over. And the most chilling precedent in all of this is precisely that the “Plan Colombia”, itself beginning with the provision of weapons and training, eventually led to the direct participation of the American military in the country starting in 2003. Once all of North America is militarized through the Bush Administration’s Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP), it only stands to reason that Mexico, much closer than Colombia and that much more essential for America’s “security”, will be next.

What does the escort have to do with its date? This: once the privatization bill goes through the Mexican Congress (an agreement has already been reached between the upper echelons of the PRI and PAN to pass it once the debates are over, either in the summer or early fall, barring the effects of the national resistance movement), American (Exxon Mobil, Haliburton) and Spanish (Repsol) companies stand to scoop up most of Mexico’s oil refining and transport business. And once they get it, they don't want to ever risk having to give it back, as they already did once in President Lazaro Cardenas’ historic oil expropriation of 1938. This is why Felipe Calderon's privatization proposal gives international courts the final say in the matter of the oil contracts and concessions, incredibly stripping Mexico of the juridical means with which to defend its own Constitution (at least somebody is learning from history: Cardenas’ 1938 expropriation was sparked by a ruling by the Mexican Supreme Court against the foreign oil companies then operating in Mexico). The Courts being cut out, that would leave only the Mexican President and Congress, but if they were ever to try anything so bold as to re-nationalize its own oil, the American military, emboldened by their Plan-Mexico carte blanche, could in the extreme case occupy Mexican oil wells and refineries to protect its “national” interests: read, those of the American companies that will by that point be in operation there. Most likely, they would never have to get to that point, just rattle their sabers a bit from close range until the Mexican President or Congress meekly backed down. Considered as a Latin America-wide strategy, this is much more effective than fomenting coups d’état and installing friendly, right-wing dictators, the preferred US policy through the 1980’s. Direct interventions are bad PR these days, and plus, dictators can die or be overthrown, and their policies reversed by succeeding governments (as in Bolivia and Venezuela). A permanent US military foothold in the country by invitation of the host country’s “democratically-elected” government proves much harder in practice to reverse.

Just as the North American Free Trade Agreement of 1993 sought to lock in by treaty (yes, for Mexico it is a treaty, with all that implies; for the US and Canada it's just an ‘agreement') an economic policy for Mexico that future governments would be bound to follow, the Plan Mexico’s military activities seek to permanently lock in the effects of the concurrent changes to Mexico’s energy policy – as Thomas Shannon, State Department sub-Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs, baldly put it, “to a certain extent, we’re armoring NAFTA.” At the same time, the Mexican government would neatly find itself stripped of the financial resources (read my previous post on the Mexican government’s budgetary dependence on oil) with which to maintain any form of real autonomy whatsoever. This, in a word, is treasonous, and as was stated at last week’s forums on petroleum held at the UNAM, Calderon could rightly be brought up on charges for treason against the Mexican state - while there is still anything left of it to betray, that is.

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