In history, as in politics, there are no coincidences.  Facts on record are the product of well-defined projects and plans and can be designed so that they occur in the short, medium or long term.  It all depends on the objectives pursued.  They are the product of strategies employed by those in power, States and governments.  An example of this is what we Mexicans are living today: chaos as the catharsis of the capitalist system.
 
Twenty years and ten months ago, as today, Mexico experienced the anxiety and the fear of war, society lived with the terror of a possible generalized armed revolt. In 1994 this arose because of the apparition of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN, for its Spanish acronym) in Chiapas, with Subcomandante Marcos in the lead, though it turned out to be an illusion.
 
Now, in the autumn of 2014, the origin of our trouble is in the chaos of misrule that has criminalized the country, unleashing such abominable events as the massacre of teacher-training students in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero, and the unbridled violence of the criminal gangs everywhere in the country.
 
That was the year the Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) signed by Mexico, the United States and Canada, came into force; an agreement that, in spite of the obvious asymmetry of the economies, in theory would launch our country towards a place in the group of developed nations.
 
Everything was served on the table: all the branches and productive activities, for free trade between the three countries.  The only thing left out was the Mexican oil industry. In the 4th Ministerial Meeting, in Chantilly, Virginia (February 8th to 11th 1992) a three party agreement was reached to the effect that the constitutional restrictions with respect to Mexico’s petroleum and petrochemical industries would not be subject to negotiation.
 
The result of this today is that the neighbours to the North have become our principal trading partners.  We depend on them for over 80% of imports, national export production is concentrated on that border, while over 60% of the food that we consume comes from there.  That is to say, we are tied to the market of the United States.
 
In addition, poverty has increased –to 53% of the total population–, and so have the bankruptcies of small and medium enterprises.  The countryside is for all practical purposes dismantled, as is demonstrated by growing food imports, and the chances of improving the living standards of the population as a whole become more remote, to the point where now it is businessmen who are demanding an increase in the minimum wage, because they have understood that with the current average income of families it will be impossible to see a dynamic improvement in the national market.
 
In 1994, the fear of a war was the tool employed by the State to put down protest, non-conformity, and opposition to the implementation of NAFTA.
 
Twenty years later, that is to say in these days of 2014, the Government has committed to undertake what was left hanging in Virginia 20 years ago, allowing the big transnational oil and energy companies to take over the national reserves of fossil fuels and electricity generation.  It has established the Energy Reform and its Secondary Laws, which have already been approved by the legislative power, but which nevertheless are not accepted by a great part of society, particularly by those who will be affected in their heritage in a direct and brutal way, as is the case with indigenous and campesino communities.
 
Even though the protests and resistance of peoples to the plans to exploit their lands by multinationals do not appear in the mass media, the facts will become known in one way or another, as happened with the eviction of the inhabitants of the lands of Texcoco, where the new airport for Mexico City will be built.  And when this happens, the State will have to confront the expressions of non-conformity and solidarity that this struggle may awaken in the rest of society.
 
In this case, the signs of the governmental strategy are clear.  They appear as condescending, inclusive and even paternalist, with respect to certain expressions of non-conformity, such as the mobilizations of the students of the Instituto Politécnico Nacional (IPN), resolving the petitions presented in their favour.
 
In the case of the assassination of the teacher-training students of Ayotzinapa, they express indignation at what occurred and declare that the crime shall not remain unpunished.  The responsibility for these events is laid on the local and state authorities of Guerrero.  They underline the complicity, in the massacre, of these authorities with the criminal gangs that dominate this entity, and a great part of the country.
 
The assassinations are converted into a theatre of terror, so that the whole world can see it. The disembodied corpses are displayed, alongside the desolation of those bereaved. The sentiments of society are objects of manipulation, inspiring protest, calls for action, but above all, horror at the notion that the violence could become general.  Thus, fear becomes rooted in the conscience of society, while at the same time, the benevolence of the State of justice is proclaimed.
 
The Mexican government makes its voice heard internationally, winning support, approval and a promise of collaboration for the resolution of the crime, as expressed by the United States and the Organization of American States (OAS).
 
Thus the facts justify the incursion and presence everywhere of the Army and Federal Police in order to find the culprits, who could be anywhere, given that criminal gangs have permeated all social sectors and a great part of the national territory.
 
In this quest, that in case of difficulties might obtain foreign military and police support, in passing they may be able to put down people’s protest and resistance, coming from those who are opposed to the appropriation of their lands by transnational companies, by making those who resist appear as accomplices of the criminals.  Thus the way is cleared to comply with the engagements settled in the Energy Reform and its Secondary Laws, as happened with NAFTA twenty years ago. The system remains firmly in place.
(Translated for ALAI by Jordan Bishop)
 
– Juan Danell Sánchez is a Mexican reporter, specialized in questions of rural life, indigenous peoples and human rights. jdanell1@hotmail.com