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We Want Our Country Back

4 June 2012

Notice the difference?  It took me a minute, too.  The Mexican protesters  are flying the national flag.

As elsewhere, people (especially students) are taking to the streets to protest what they see as the state’s sacrifice of the needs of its citizens to the exigencies of  corporate power.  But, in Mexico, it isn’t seen as the protesters  AGAINST the system so much as protesters demanding to be let into the system, and for the system to be allowed to operate correctly.

What has been most unusual, and unremarked about the “Yo Soy 132” protests is that they began among the elites … students at a prestigious private university, who could reasonably expect to be the nation’s leaders, are not accepting what seems to an attempt by the political class to reject national values. That the issues raised on the IBERO campus found resonance throughout the country is very much in the Mexican tradition.  Think of the Queretaro Literary Society, with its self-appointed provincial elites like Hidalgo and Allende… or the poets and teachers who gathered around that shrewd lawyer, Benito Juarez.  Or the very wealthy country gentleman, Francisco Madero.

We heard a lot from the TEA Party about wanting to “take my country back” … and, in a way, that’s what Yo Soy 132 is also saying.  But unlike the TEA Party, with its shadowy corporate sponsors, its close ties to a television network and one political party (or rather, a substantial wing of one political party), for the Mexicans “taking their country back” means stopping the shadowy corporate sponsorship and television network support of one wing of a political party.

It strikes me that the protest signs one sees are less likely to show a picture of internationalist figures like Che Guevara and more likely to feature national heroes… Benito Juarez and his call for respect for the rights of others above all.    And where the U.S. “TEA Party” defined their nationalism in rather narrow terms (claiming Barack Obama was unAmerican, in good part because he has a “funny” name… and doesn’t look like the kind of Americans they consider “true Americans”… ok, because he’s non-white), the Yo Soy 132 protests define their nationalism in inclusive terms:  certainly, they could do a better job of broadening their coalition to include workers and street vendors and miners and farmers and… but tying their movement to justice for the vendors abused in Atenco and the victims of the insane U.S. sponsored “drug war;  the demands of the Wikiruta to their traditional lands;  and, the rights of sexual and religious minorities,  is a damn good start.

That is the country they want back… not a false vision of a society that never was, but one where there was a fair fight, and a vision of decency and equality… the country they want back is the country envisioned (but never quite delivered) by Morelos, Juarez, Madero, Villa, Zapata, Lazaro Cardenas and the martyrs of Tlatelolco.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. 4 June 2012 3:44 am

    Here, here, Richard! Thank you for your very good description of the Yo Soy #132 movement. Our country needs to get back on track and STOP living in fear of what “might” happen. You know people treat you the way you demand to be treated… the same is true for countries. I am proud to see the youth standing up for Mexico.

  2. 4 June 2012 9:31 pm

    Thanks for breaking this down. I’ve been looking for more info. on Yo Soy 132.

    They’re supposed to have a huge protest or some kind of action during the Mexico/Guyana game this Friday. This is going to be VERY interesting to see.

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