[act-ma] 2/11 Protest Mexican President Felipe Calderon's visit to Cambridge

Charlie Welch cwelch at tecschange.org
Mon Feb 4 19:34:39 PST 2008


*Monday, February 11, 2008 – 6:00pm (gather at 5)*

*In front of:*

*Harvard's John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum, 79 JFK Street, Cambridge.*


A growing coalition of local progressive organizations and individuals 
has decided to protest the policies of the Mexican government 
represented by its President, Felipe Calderón as he addresses Harvard's 
JFK Forum. Calderon came to power after another undemocratic “election” 
in Mexico. His government continues to repress indigenous people, the 
labor movement, in particular in Oaxaca, and is responsible, together 
with government of the United States for the situation of millions of 
undocumented Mexican workers in the U.S. At the same time, Calderon is 
now advocating for the Security and Prosperity Partnership, which 
strengthens the NAFTA agreement that is detrimental to workers in Mexico 
and the U.S.


* In 2006, President Calderon stole the presidency from the Party of 
Democratic Revolution (PRD) candidate Andrés López Obrador. On July 2, 
2006 Mexicans voted at over 130,000 different polling stations, casting 
separate ballots for president, senator and federal deputies. 
International and Mexican election observers noted that there weren't 
enough independent and party observers present in the process. In many 
regions, one party dominated, creating opportunities for vote shaving, 
ballot stuffing, lost ballots and other forms of fraud. The PRD's 
strongest accusation comes from the fact that ballots in nearly one 
third of the country were not counted in the presence of independent 
observers. One analysis of (Federal Election Commission equivalent) IFE 
results found that in 2,366 polling places only a PAN (Calderon’s 
National Action Party) observer was present and in those places, 
Calderon beat Lopez Obrador by a 72-21 margin. Furthermore, PRD 
observers discovered that sealed ballot boxes were being opened 
illegally at IFE offices where PAN's observers dominated the process. 
Given a history of electoral fraud in Mexico, during the nearly century 
reign of the PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party now allied with PAN) 
and the explicit support of Calderon in the Western media, we charge 
Calderon with manipulating Mexico's democratic process, just as 
President Bush disenfranchised voters in Florida and Ohio to become 
president in the United States and demand that democracy be respected in 
Mexico, without interference from the United States or any other Western 

* There are at least 31 indigenous political prisoners, punished for 
their autonomous community organization, the defense of their territory 
and natural resources, the defense of their right to freely decide their 
own community matters, and their refusal to forget their culture and 
history. All of them organized to improve the living conditions in their 
regions and communities, yet charges have been invented to keep them 
locked up. There is paramilitary activity backed by the US and Mexican 
government against indigenous communities in Oaxaca. This facilitates 
the expansion of capitalism and empire in Oaxaca has led to an 
international call for solidarity against this state sponsored 
repression. What makes Oaxaca and other indigenous struggles in Mexico 
notable is the commitment of strong currents within it to militancy, to 
non-violence, to non-hierarchical forms of social structure, to 
cooperation in place of competition, to local autonomy and, as much as 
possible, to local self-sufficiency. The jails of Oaxaca now reveal the 
war unleashed by the state government and those who have served it down 
through the years. By means of a silent war, the corporations and all 
the political parties are trying to do away with the Indian peoples, 
plunder their natural resources, erase their history with blood, and 
take their territory away from them. Extermination, exploitation, lies, 
dispossession, and prison have been the only state and federal 
government policies concerning the Indian peoples of Oaxaca.

On September 25, 1996, the massive repression of the Zapotec men and 
women of the Loxicha region began when the Mexican Army brutally 
attacked those who were demanding better living conditions. The result 
was "200 illegal arrests, 150 cases of torture, 32 illegal searches, 22 
extrajudicial executions, 22 forced disappearances, 137 political 
prisoners or prisoners of conscience, and an undetermined number of 
sexual abuses, harassment, death threats, and corrupt procedural 
irregularities" (Civilian Mission for the Observation of Human Rights, 
March 21-24, 2002).

We therefore demand: Freedom for all Indigenous prisoners; Stop 
repression against indigenous peoples; Land, culture, history, language, 
Indigenous people are not merchandise.

* Felipe Calderon inherited and strongly supports the North American 
Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). He supports deepening it in the form of 
the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP). Neither benefits working 
people in the 3 countries of North America. NAFTA weakened worker 
protections in all 3 countries, it increased low-wage, dead-end 
employment in Mexico while destroying food independence and agricultural 
employment in Mexico with highly-subsidized US crops. Millions of 
Mexicans are now forced to seek livelihoods across the border in the US. 
NAFTA also decreased job growth in the United States by a million jobs. 
However, as a former Mexican foreign minister remarked, NAFTA was "an 
agreement for the rich and powerful in the United States, Mexico, and 
Canada, an agreement effectively excluding ordinary people in all three 

In this vein, SPP is being drafted by the North American Competitiveness 
Council that consists of 30 corporate members. In addition to rewriting 
regulations entirely in favor of the corporations, it will likely extend 
US Government Patriot Act-style "security" policies to Canada and 
Mexico. This extension and recommended pro-corporate policies tend to be 
adopted by presidential/executive decree rather than through 
deliberation by elected bodies (Congress or Parliament).

Progressive organizations and unions in all three countries seek 
alternatives to NAFTA based on principles of real fair trade and 
solidarity. Other models for Latin American economic cooperation are 
being developed involving countries like Venezuela, Ecuador, Uruguay, 
Bolivia, and Cuba while rejecting US-imposed free-trade regimes. Felipe 
Calderon is helping lead the opposition to these progressive 
initiatives. We demand the termination of NAFTA and termination of the 
Security and Prosperity Partnership negotiations.

* The governments of the United States and Mexico are responsible for 
the current situation of millions of undocumented workers in the U.S. 
These workers are on the one hand exploited and abused; on the other the 
U.S. government persecutes and repress them through raids, detention and 
deportations. The Mexican government, now headed by Felipe Calderon, 
pushes millions of workers out of their country and away from their 
families in desperate search for jobs in the North, while at the same 
time participating in the North American Free Trade Agreement that 
produced more exploitation for Mexicans but more unemployment of 
agricultural workers.

Of particular note is the ill treatment that Mexican authorities provide 
migrants coming from Central America in transit to the United States. 
Hundreds of Guatemalans, Salvadorans, and Hondurans attempting to go 
through Mexico are robbed, detained, and sometimes killed in the process 
by corrupt police or gangs. Mexico signed the International Convention 
on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of 
their Families, yet as of now it has not implemented it in full or in 

We, therefore denounce these abuses and demand justice, and fair and 
humane treatment from Mexico and the U.S. for migrant workers and their 

# # #
Contact: Suren Moodliar (English)]

Massachusetts Global Action
Phone: 617-482-6300
Email: suren[@]fairjobs.org

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