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Two threats: Anarchism and Peña Nieto

23 November 2014

So… are the “anarchists” who disrupt peaceful protests “infiltrators” or are they a legitimate threat. Well, yes… maybe.

Gibrán Ramírez Reyes, Emeeques (21 November 2014)… my translation:

The “anarchist” violence during protests comes from infiltratrators say those in the streets. The “anarchist” violence is an orchestrated attempt to destabilize the country, foolishly writes [Journalist and PRI “cultural affairs” official] Beatriz Pagés on behalf of Enrique Peña Nieto; scorching the doors of the National Palace door bears the signature of Andrés Manuel López Obrador and, according to the PRI cultural czar, so do protests in Guerrero, and guerrilla actions there as well. For the citizens, doubt and prejudice are at least understandable: the PRI are old hands when it comes to infiltrating and disrupting social movements. Therefore, the opposition has a knee-jerk reaction, suspecting infiltration based on minimum evidence, and seen as working for the benefit of those in power. But, on the other hand, the press has not done much in the way of reporting on the anarchists (sometimes simply out of the assumption that these groups are organized by the federal government).

When it comes to our dismissal of anarchist violence, the government discourse is by far the most dangerous. Witness Peña, really angry, suggesting Carmen Aristegui is probably complicit in a conspiracy to destabilize not only his government but, according to him, something much more worth defending… a cause: the “national project”.

In varying degrees the Federal Administration, the PRI (including the lamentable Pagés claims), the Mexico City government, the business community, the conservative press and Coparmex [the National Chamber of Commerce], which is demanding a return to “order” – seeks to shift the discourse for two reasons. First, violent anarchism is a real concern that the Mexican government now shares with the US government; and secondly, the discourse itself – visually shocking as it is — is a useful tool in forging a strategy to recover the smokescreen of Peña Nieto’s leadership.
The claims of Peña and Pagés, and those that echo them, appeal to that part of the middle class that is frightened by more radical forms of protest, and speaking of them instills in them the fear of an uncertain future. Demands for political change challenge the conservative instinct to preserve what one has: family, possessions, life itself. The key is to make people frightened that “our Mexico” – that of the middle-class majority – is going to change when the thinking is “well, at least WE’RE alive, and living quiet lives”.

The scheme aspires to govern with the complicity of a silent majority, which would sooner avoid “destabilizing” the national project —and a life of “normality”, even if the assumptions of normality are based on inequality and death. The historian Ariel Rodríguez Kuri documented that there was a broad social support for suppression in 1968, when the official discourse was of anticommunism, so irrational and violent at the time, that columnists reflexively referred to protesters as “assholes” for trying to dampen the national spirit.

Certianly, right now Peña is facing the worst of all worlds. What brought him to power was the claim that force was needed to maintain order. But public outrage over the use of force required a change in national policy. Nobody is happy and everyone’s viewpoint has shifted. However, it appears that imposing authoritarian political solutions in his DNA, at least in the first part of his term. The simplest strategy for him, is to apply a real problem (violent anarchism) to an imaginary threat (instability and the derailment of the national project), which requires national unity and, consequently, scares Mexico into chosing a side: that of destabilizing the country, or going on with the national project

To say that there is orchestrated effort to destabilize suggests that there are one or more villains ready to make the attempt. Perhaps there’s an iota of intelligence that could serve as the basis for a telenovela to the taste of that silent majority. Peña and company are quite capable of it, but more likely are the outbursts of a stagnant regime that hasn’t a clue how to react.

On the other hand there is a real concern about violent anarchist cells. So far, the Federal District’s investigations and prosecutions have been, to say the least, ineffective. Intelligence work has been predictable and awkward and, as the lack of results has been alarming.

This type of anarchism first broke on the scene in the United States in 2004, but came to Mexico in 2006 during the Oaxacan conflict, when local activists exchanged methods of agitation with foreign “revolutionary tourists”, and spread to other states in Mexico. Since then, there have been sporadic actions reported on the inside pages of popular newspapers and in the nota rojas [crime pages], while intellectuals, sociologists and political scientists have ignored them, or assumed anarchist actions were infiltrators or agentes provacateurs, without any empirical support for their assumption.

In the Federal District, although little is known about such groups, there have been attacks, the largest being the firebombing of a car agency in Tlapan, as well as attacks on ATMs as well as letter bombs sent to academics by those opposing scientific research or technological innovations based on their supposed potential for enslaving the people. These cells had their greatest growth during Marcelo Ebrard term as Governor of Mexico City. The prosecutor in charge of the investigation at the time was Miguel Mancera – who received a letter-bomb – and one of his top aides, not Secretary of Public Security, Jesus Rodriguez Almeida. Both saw the groups not as a political problem, but as a police matter, one that could be solved by infiltrating a few cells, and making arrests “in flagrante delicto”. Today we see the results.

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