From the November-December 2020 issue of News & Letters
The clandestine graves of Guanajuato
by Eugene Walker
Mexico City, Mexico—In the state of Guanajuato 52 clandestine graves containing 59 bodies of men, women and adolescents were recently found.
As of Sept. 30, Guanajuato had 2,587 missing persons, 409 more than in mid-July. Guanajuato also leads nationally in the number of intentional homicides—3,438 in the first nine months of the year, almost a thousand more than in 2019! The Guanajuato State Search Commission announced the finding, but it has been the families of the disappeared who formed committees to search for their loved ones and who made the grim discoveries. Family members often participate in searches with their faces covered and, sometimes, wearing bulletproof vests. They take extreme precautions against the narco-traffic gangs who carry out the vast majority of disappearances and murders.
In the Mexico of armed conflict, the clandestine grave is a site of multiple human rights violations. Since 2006, the year of the beginning of the militarization of public security and the escalation of homicides and disappearances, 4,092 graves with 6,900 bodies have been registered. To date there are 77,585 missing persons, with 38,891 unidentified bodies in the country’s morgues.
More and more mothers are looking for their children and all the other missing persons. In doing so they have become the defenders of human rights, builders of peace, and the country’s moral reserve.
Lopez Obrador’s developmentalism faces resistance
Mexico’s President (often referred to as AMLO) is forever claiming to be against neoliberalism, but has in fact been practicing a combination of neoliberalism with state-capitalism in his developmentalist projects in many parts of Mexico. Projects include a projected Mayan train and a transoceanic corridor in southern Mexico, a thermoelectric plant to soon begin operating in central Mexico, and a new oil refinery.
All these are backed with private and state funds. These and other projects are threatening Indigenous and campesino communities. Hurried and manipulated “consultations” have taken place to give “legitimacy” to Obrador’s plans. However, resistance from below is growing.
Sometimes it takes the form of communities filing petitions and making demands in court. Other times, direct action: blocking construction along railroad lines; sit-ins; marches and other demonstrations. The Resistance is working to put a brake on this form of private/state capitalism.
The COVID-19 reality
Mexico is in deep trouble with the pandemic. Multiple states and communities are hot spots with cases and deaths at high levels. In many of the maquiladoras near the U.S. border, outbreaks have occurred. Non-essential factories are supposed to be closed, but remain open in violation of the law.
Workers are often forced to work under unsafe conditions. Several wildcat strikes have occurred. Still maquiladora capitalism marches on. Meanwhile, President AMLO parades around the country, most often without a preventive mask—a wonderful example for the country.
A new series of Communications have been issued by the Zapatistas, whose communities have been closed since COVID-19 struck Mexico. They report on their situation vis-a-vis the virus, and continue their important resistance along with the Congreso Nacional Indigena against the Federal government developmentalist projects.
Most importantly, they announced their plans to travel to the five continents beginning with Europe this coming Spring. They will be reporting on their work in Mexico, their determination to be, not objects or victims, but living, developing people, determined to be free. This is an example of the Zapatistas unique concept of internationalism.