Letter from Mexico, November-December 2018: Rejecting fake choice in airport referendum

From the November-December 2018 issue of News & Letters

by J.G.F. Héctor

The elected government of Morena (Movement for National Regeneration) organized a National Consultation on Mexico’s New Airport from Oct. 25-28. Of more than one million voters, 70% chose to “recondition the current airport…and build two landing tracks at the military air base of Santa Lucía.” However, the consultation only allowed the choice to be between this option and “to continue with the new airport in Texcoco,” which the government has wanted to impose since 2001. Although celebrated as a “democratic act,” the consultation was nothing but simulation.

In the previous months, businessmen involved in the Texcoco project flooded the media with “warnings” about the economic risks of calling it off and presented “facts” to prove its viability. Even when these were not outright manipulations, their position totally separated “science” from humanity: One big shot asked, “Why submit to popular consultation something that has to be decided by experts?”

Certainly, Morena’s decision to call off the project in Texcoco has caused some strain between the party and businessmen. However, when class interests coincide, reconciliation is easy. Morena will pay the remaining contracts from the national budget and will open a lot of opportunities for private investment, not just the new airport in Santa Lucía.

If we want to find a real way forward for a social uprooting, we have to look at the movements from below, whose actions and ideas contain the seeds of a new way of life.

‘FOR US, NOTHING TO CELEBRATE’

On Oct. 25, the Peoples’ Front for the Defense of the Land (FPDT)—resisting since 2001—demonstrated in Mexico City, calling for “all Mexicans to participate in the National Consultation…in order to reaffirm our rejection of Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), National Action Party (PAN), [and] the rottenest part of Democratic Revolution Party (PRD).” But if the airport in Texcoco has been called off, it is not due to results of the consultation, but to the more than 17 years of resistance from below.

After the Consultation, the FPDT demanded its results be put into practice and “to begin a program for the restoration of damages in the region.” At the same time, it stated that the rejection of this project “is not a green light to the one in Santa Lucía.” It expressed its solidarity with the peoples of the region, who have created an organization under the banner “Neither in Santa Lucía.”

What is clear is the need for a deeper ground, beyond going forward “little by little,” resisting every new particular project. The Coordination of Peoples and Organizations from the East of the State of Mexico for the Defense of Land, Water and its Culture states: “For us, there is nothing to celebrate, for the business plan continues in the same Cuenca del Valle de México, just a few kilometers away from the Texcoco Lake… This was not a consultation, for it flew in the face of our habits and customs. As Native peoples, the real consultation should have been with us from the beginning…”

INDIGENOUS REJECTION OF CAPITALISM

In an important communication published on Oct. 26, the National Indigenous Congress (CNI) and the Zapatista Army for National Liberation (EZLN) rejected not just specific projects, but the whole capitalist exploitation:
“[We] reiterate our unequivocal rejection of the construction of the New Airport of Mexico City whether it be built at Texcoco Lake or anywhere else…This project, like all the other mega-projects imposed in our geographies, is aimed at wresting from us what is ours, at the cost of the life of whoever resists.”

This shows the necessary anti-capitalistic, radical point of departure required for the creation of the new. This can only be done by the movements from below if they don’t separate practice from theory, or separate specific actions of resistance from an anti-capitalistic vision concretized as new human relationships.

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