“When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes a duty!” shouts a picket sign thrust into the sky at one of thousands of protests against the murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and of Eric Garner in New York City. That same sentiment defines the Mexican eruption at the kidnapping and slaying of 43 Ayotzinapa teachers college students. Immigrant demonstrations in the U.S. possess the fierce and infectious spirit of the courageous resisters in their homeland.
These protests, in the center of the world capitalist system and its poorer partner to the south, are critical. They expose how rulers murder with impunity to maintain the status quo. And they have ignited worldwide sympathy with the firestorm against police violence and state repression.
Leading the fight-back are the most oppressed — youth of color and immigrants in the United States and indigenous young people in Mexico. The ruling classes of both countries are deeply interlinked with each other. So too must be the movements for justice.
Common realities. Public outrage is rooted in profound injustices throughout both lands. Mexico has seen decades of indigenous peoples trying to stop their government from handing over their communal lands to multinational mining companies and drug cartels. Its workers continue to oppose the privatization of many nationalized industries. Wages have fallen below those of Chinese workers, and half the population lives in poverty.
The United States has the highest rate of poverty among economically advanced countries and its child poverty is the most severe. Black Americans are the most victimized on every social and economic level as a result of the racism that defined this country from the beginning. They live under a steady stream of police killings and selective drug prosecutions and joblessness, especially Black youth.
Both countries benefit from the so-called war on drugs, initiated by Washington, D.C. In Mexico, the highest levels of government officials grow rich off drug money. In December 2014 the Mexican journal Proceso revealed that it was indeed federal troops that carried out the September assault on the Ayotzinapa students. U.S. banks fill their coffers with illicit drug profits, while the criminal “justice” system enforces a police state in Black communities.
Both countries also have revolutionary traditions that live on in their organizing and indignation. Mexicans remember their peasant and working-class revolutionaries. Americans demand their hard-won Bill of Rights and civil rights gains.
Different tempos. Because of drug cartel butchery, community self-defense forces are actively organizing in Mexico. That level of violence hasn’t yet hit the U.S. But Mexican officials and drug traffickers are so intertwined that the country is widely seen as a narcogobierno, narco state. And demands for the resignation of Mexico’s president get louder by the day.
What’s little known is that Mexico became a narco state as a direct result of U.S. intrigue. In 1986, the Ronald Reagan administration was determined to overthrow the leftwing Sandinista government in Nicaragua, but Congress wouldn’t pay for it. So the CIA made a deal with mid-sized Mexican drug dealers. In exchange for the dealers transmitting money to the Contras, the CIA and DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) facilitated massive drug trafficking from Mexico to the U.S., drugs they pushed in U.S. ghettoes. From that dirty deal, “the Mexicans grew … from being [small-time] sellers, [and] entered the big cocaine market,” writes Anabel Hernández, Mexican investigative journalist. Then in 2006, the USA hypocritically started funding Mexico’s “war on drugs,” actually an armed war on the people. The cartels participate and happily profit.
The militarization of Mexico in its “war on drugs” is now coming home to roost in the militarization of U.S. police forces. Cops are the daily face of state repression in U.S. cities. U.S. government brutality is not yet as massive as in Mexico, but is rampant in Black and Latino neighborhoods.
Torture is a regular part of life in Mexico, carried out by police, military, narcos and death squads. The U.S. has trained many of these torturers at its School of the Americas/WHINSEC. In the good ol’ USA, torture is better hidden, and cops beat and maim young people of color one at a time on the streets.
Top gangster USA. The U.S. sits on top of the global imperialist heap, its “free trade” and neoliberal policies dominating the world economy. They have produced enormous privatization of public property, oil and mineral extraction, environmental destruction, and brutal labor exploitation. And they have caused enormous suffering in both countries, but especially in Mexico.
The rousing anti-repression movements in each country will be stronger and have a greater chance of success if we stand together across borders. This is already happening. And the heaviest obligation of solidarity is on the U.S. working class. It is a class with a huge opportunity and an equally huge responsibility. For the biggest bully of them all is the U.S. ruling class.
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