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PEMEX, AMLO and EPR… it’s a blast

11 July 2007

¡Para justicia y libertad! posted on this before I did, and Edmundo has most of what I was going to say…

Mexican leftist group, El Ejército Popular Revolucionario (EPR – Popular Revolutionary Army), is claiming responsibility for for a series of explosions that occurred this week and last week on Mexico’s owned natural-gas pipelines, PEMEX, according to La Jornada. Pemex is the third-largest oil supplier to the US.

The group said it will continue to carry out “surgical harassment actions” until President Felipe Calderon and the governor of the state of Oaxaca, Ulises Ruiz, release two of its members who were arrested back in May.

President Felipe Calderón has ordered a reinforcement of security measures in strategically important oil fields and other areas.

What makes EPR statement interesting, they said the bombings were the signal of the beginning of its campaign against the interests of “the oligarchy and of this illegitimate government.” The word “illegitimate” echoes presidential contender Andres Manuel López Obrador, who lost the 2006 election to Calderon by less than 0.6 percentage point, and uses the same term for the current administration. After leading two months of post-election street protests culminating in a self- inauguration, López Obrador continues his claim to be the rightful head of state.

The Calderón administration has stepped up security around oil pipelines, but seems to discount the ERP involvement. The Federal Prosecutor’s office says the explosions were deliberately set, and accepts the authenticity of the ERP communique.

At this point I don’t see evidence that Lopez Obradór is involved with the ERP, but that it is an independent action by a not-well-known indigenous group. About the only thing I can find about the group is that they were founded by Alberto Antonio Antonio, an indigenous resident of San Augustín Loxicha, Oaxaca (the municipal website lists him as a famous native son).

As far as I can tell this is an indigenous guerrilla organization from Oaxaca, and their specific demands (the resignation of Ulises Ruiz in Oaxaca, and release of political prisoners taken during protests in that state last summer) don’t suggest this is a national group, but only a local one.

And, given that there have been manufactured “terrorist” acts in the past to justify police crackdowns on dissent (last year’s bombing of the PRI headquarters in Mexico City, a dubious bank bombing — carefully designed to minimize damage — in Tlanapantla, Morelos following a stolen municipal election in 2005 — and an earlier bombing blamed on the Zapatistas — this one blowing up a trash can in front of a bank at 3 in the morning — again in Mexico City), I’d want more information before I draw any conclusions.

There are a lot of groups and individuals who think the Calderón administration is an “illegitimate presidency”, but aren’t necessarily connected to the PRD or AMLO’s “alternative presidency”. As far back as last December, there were newspaper reports of rejectionists taking to the hills (though the group in question was ironically taking up arms against the military budget and cuts in education funding).

There are a couple of other issues at work here. The Secretaria de Gobernacion (Interior Minister or “Homeland Security Chief”), Francisco Ramírez Acuña will be the one to watch. His original selection was called “A Grave Error” by CNN among others:

Ramírez Acuña, known for a “firm hand” on security issues but also accused of human rights violations, will be immediately responsible for finding a solution to six months of unrest in Oaxaca, where a large protest movement is demanding the ouster of the state´s governor. He will also be in charge of reaching out to opposition parties to seek support for Calderón´s reform agenda.

I’ll translate it later (today, I hope), but Blogotitlan has an article up by Jorge Carrasco Araizaga of Proceso, suggesting Calderón’s “drug war” has run out of steam, and the “de facto government” needs a new threat to justify it’s quasi-military control.

The target of the attack — PEMEX — is worth noting. ERP (which is usually only said to have a few dozen members) but attacks on oil pipelines in three states indicate broader action. ERP may be larger (or better organized) than we’ve been led to believe. On the other hand, nationalists, supporters of the alternative presidency AND the guerrillas all reject calls for privatizing PEMEX.

Pipelines are one thing that could be privatized without privatizing the oil itself. I could fall into the Mexican conspiracy mode of thinking and say it’s a complot to make pipeline management by outsiders more palatable to the nation, or… it could be what it looks like: ERP said they attacked the pipeline because it’s part of the oligarchy and corporatist power structure.

Whatever the reality, Edmundo is right… and not just because he thinks I’m right!)…

It would be wise to keep an eye on the activities happening in Mexico because it sure does look like the natives are getting restless down there.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. 11 July 2007 7:19 am

    I figured you would address this and to be honest I was hoping you had done so before I did my post because you tend to give a fair and accurate assessment what is actually happening down there. It would have taken me a bit longer if I tried to decode all of the media’s rhetoric.

    I see you also hit the same road block as I did when it came to ERP. You are probably correct there probably is no connection between Lopez Obradór and the ERP, however, I just found it interesting that the attacks came right after the CND convention.


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  2. » The Natives Are Restless: Another Attack on Mexico’s Natural Gas Pipeline - By ¡Para Justicia y Libertad!
  3. Deja vu all over again « The Mex Files

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