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We have nothing to lose but our hotel chains…

22 May 2019

Mexico has nationalized key sectors of the economy before, notably the petroleum business back when the country was one of the top five oil producers in the world.  Now, with tourism accounting for nine percent of the GNP, and being one of the top “producers” of tourism in the world, it’s inevitable that this has crossed more than a few people’s minds.  (In translating this manifesto (posted on Rebelión, 22 May 2019), I had to take some liberties with the text.  Manifestos tend to wander all over the place, and… besides… I didn’t want to have to footnote some material that would be obvious to the intended audience,, or mentioned some of the “usual suspects” …  and not of much relevance to Mexfiles readers).

Neo-liberal tourism in Mexico

Sun, sea and sand, jungles and wetlands, mountains and “pueblos magicos”. Mexico is the sixth most visited country in the world, almost 40 million international tourists vist our country and tourism generates nine out of 100 pesos of GNP.

The present government, like previous ones, is aware of the wealth generated by the tourism sector and recognizes it as a pole of national development and stability. For good reason, one of the star projects of this administration is the “Tren Maya”, a “modern, tourism and cultural” train.

However, who really benefits from tourism? Who gets those millions of pesos generated every day in our country?

We have some answers: 10 million Mexicans live on tourism, four million on direct activities and six million on indirect activities. Of these, eight million are informal workers. The average wage for the two million formally employed workers, the average wage is six thousand pesos a month. It is also the sector of the formal economy that receives the most complaints about sex discrimination: practicaly all female workers are constantly monitored for pregnancy, and pregant workers are dismissed.

In addition, in Jalisco, 195,000, and in Cancún about 35,000 children are informally and illegally employed. […] Something to keep in mind, considering that this country is the #2 destination in the world for se tourism, and most of those exploited are minors.

The five most important hotel chains in Mexico are foreign: InterContinental Hotels, Group Marriott International, Hyatt Group, Hilton Hotel & Resorts, NH Hotels. Next in importance are the Mexican firms Grupo Posadas, created by Gastón Azcárraga, brother of Emilio Azcárraga, founder of Televisa, with whom in 2005 he bought Mexicana de Aviación; Hoteles Mision, whose founder, Roberto Zapata, was general director of Nacional Hotelera until his nationalization, and City Express – the latter the fastest growing hotel chain in Mexico […].

With this it is clear that tourism money has a very clear destination: the pockets of the bourgeoisie. The people do not benefit. On the contrary, not only does tourism not improve their conditions, but it worsens them, increasing the possibilities of labor and sexual exploitation of minors. In addition, tourism industry depends on extremely flexible labor contracts and practically non-existent environmental regulations […]

Although Mexico has been a bulwark of world tourism for decades, it was during the neoliberal era [post 1988] and, more specifically, in the last two administrations [2006-2018], when there was a “hotel boom”, that Mexico consolidated itself as one of the ten most important tourist destinations in the world. To a large extent, this was a result of modifications to Article 27 in the Constitution, which allowed for the privatization of shores, beaches, and waterways. During the 1990s and the beginning of this century, many public beaches were blocked with cyclone mesh fences, and”No Trespassing” signs were posted. By the second decade of this century, the beaches were hidden behind large luxury hotels where the inhabitants could only access them if they worked in the hotel, or were able to spend a night there.

Right now Mexico is living a “golden age” of the hotel industry; since 2014 the three large national companies mentioned above seek to reach 300 new properties, each opening between 13 and 20 hotels per year, supported by the favors of the neoliberal governments, who have granted millions of pesos to the National Tourist Business Council (CNET) , directed by Pablo Azcárraga, of Grupo Posadas, for “tourism promotion”, by the now-extinct Mexican Tourism Promotion Council.

In the case of international companies many found in Baja California an unbeatable real estate niche after Hurricane Catrina, which literally wiped out everything in its path, leaving the land free for investment, of course all “in favor” of the economic recovery.

Returning to the Mayan Train, just to give a concrete example, the project has already started direct bids and grants to foreign companies, even though it had been said that the project would not count on “strategic” foreign investments.

For us, as an Organization for the Fight for Popular Emancipation, all tourism, industrial, and national development projects must be designed for the poor, for the historically oppressed classes.

They should be developed as state projects that secure the profits for the nation, generate well-paid jobs with a base salary and with all labor rights, and eliminate child labor completely. At the same time, large companies must return what they have stolen, what they bought illegally or legally thanks to the privatization of our natural resources and the dispossession of the people. At the same time, we can not allow projects that privilege profit over the environment to continue.

Nationalization of the tourist industry is urgently needed. The nine out of every 100 pesos generated by tourism should not fall into the hands of foreign businesses, but into the pockets of the people. . It is time that what is produced in Mexico remains in the hands of those who produce it.

Against dispossession, repression and exploitation; resistance, organization and struggle for socialism!

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