From the September-October 2022 issue of News & Letters
by Eugene Walker
Two ongoing crises are manifestations of Mexico’s dysfunctionality: the forced disappearances of tens of thousands of citizens that remain unsolved and the almost complete reliance on fossil fuels as an energy source in the face of growing climate chaos.
Almost eight years after the crime, a truth commission formed by the government of President López Obrador finally announced that the murder of three Ayotzinapa students and the forced disappearance of 43 others—young men of peasant families studying to be teachers—was “a crime of the state.”
Parents and supporters of the missing students knew this almost immediately after the abduction. They held march after march, protest after protest, meeting after meeting, demanding the return of their sons.
It became immediately clear that not only the municipal, state and federal governments were involved in the crime and in its coverup, but that the armed forces, in this case the head of an army barracks with hundreds of soldiers, had direct knowledge of the disappearances as they were happening, but did nothing to stop the crime.
The federal government only admitted that this was a crime of the state because of the actions of students’ families and the militant continuous protests of other rural students from across Mexico.
The Peña Nieto administration, which was in power during the crime, stonewalled any investigation. The López Obrador administration has moved slowly on the case in its three years in power.
It just arrested the previous attorney general, Jesús Murillo Karam, and charged him with creating a false official “historical truth” document covering up the facts of the crime. The government says it has now issued many new arrest warrants, including for military and police officers and cartel members. But López Obrador is close to the military, relying on it for many functions of his administration, so it remains to be seen what the future holds.
In response to recent government actions, the parents of the Ayotzinapa students said: “We are not moved by revenge or personal animosity, but rather by the hope that the truth will be known and that this will help prevent similar events from ever happening again.”
Meanwhile, whether the military will be reined in remains a big question mark. They have long been involved in extrajudicial killings, with total impunity. Paula Mónaco Felipe, author of “Ayotzinapa: Eternal Hours,” commented that this “could open the door to truth and justice…in at least 50 years of abuses and crimes against humanity perpetrated by the Mexican armed forces.”
OBRADOR’S NEW OIL REFINERY
So determined is the President of Mexico to achieve “energy independence” from the U.S. and to promote “developmentalism” (read state-controlled capitalism) that he has pushed forward the construction of a completely new oil refinery (Dos Boscos), and had his energy regulators stall and completely halt permits for alternative energy sources, as they are being developed by private and non-Mexican companies.
As The New York Times reported: “Mexican authorities are using the might of their regulatory agencies to keep renewable firms out of the market, blocking their power plants from operating, and instead propping up fossil fuel-powered plants owned or run by the state.” Global heating be damned!
The Mexican state is planning to spend over $6.2 billion to build 15 fossil fuel power plants by 2024. Foreign investment in the energy sector has dropped from $5 billion in 2018, when López Obrador took office, to less than $600 million last year.
Of course, Mexico, as any other country, should have a “right” to energy independence. But the insanity of capitalism, whether in its private or state capitalist form, is driven by a production for production’s sake mentality, development and more development, even if it is driving us closer to humanity’s destruction.
A narrow “independence” nationalism is no more a solution than is galloping economic imperialism. Mexico’s people, as every people, need to have the opportunity for a far more revolutionary, human, way of living.