Source: www.walterlippmann.com and originally from Freedom Socialist, Vol. 27, No. 5 October-November 2006
Translated: Freedom Socialist
Transcription/Markup/Editing: Initial markup and editing: Freedom Socialist. MIA markup by David Walters
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“Guilty of defending democracy” reads one sign at an August 10 protest of election fraud during the July 2 elections in Mexico.
A passionate Cuban revolutionary in her own right, Celia Hart is also the daughter of two leaders in the overthrow of Batista. A physicist, writer, and feminist, she has dedicated herself recently to expanding appreciation for the ideas of Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky in Cuba and internationally.
The article below, written in the second week of July and posted in Spanish by several online sources, is published here by permission of the author in an English translation for the FS by Bob Price. Hart analyzes the deeper meaning for the Mexican people of the disputed July 2 presidential election, which featured massive fraud by the rightwing National Action Party (PAN) against the candidate of the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Hart’s call for a ‘Real Campaign’ (‘Verdadera Campaņa’) is a response to the non-electoral ‘Other Campaign’ of the Zapatistas (EZLN).
In 1952, Fulgencio Batista and a group of sergeants carried out a military coup against the constitutional Cuban president at the time, Carlos Prio Socarrÿs. Determined to restore democracy, all the progressive and radical elements of Havana, starting with the university students, went to the Presidential Palace to receive arms.
Prio was a president loyal to the U.S. government; the democracy he represented was in reality a false democracy. The only ‘brave’ thing that he could think of doing was to take refuge in the North American embassy. Batista was installed in power.
A year later, however, the pro-democratic multitude reunited in a wholesale effort to topple the Batista tyranny—in nothing more or less than a true revolution. Among them were the young people who assaulted the Moncada Barracks. Not much later, in 1959, the Cuban Left, one of the most organized in Latin America, took power in an armed insurrection that was supported by massive popular mobilization and led by a political organization called the July 26th Movement.
In other words, an ethical and constitutional demand for bourgeois democracy held within itself the seeds of revolutionary change only a few years later.
Why tell this long-ago story in relationship to the electoral coup in beautiful Mexico? Only because the parallels seem to me to be providential.
A time of profound potential. At this writing, the leaders of Mexico’s Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) are not taking the same course that Prio Socarrÿs took, and hopefully they will not have to take refuge in technicalities. ‘God’ is giving them the opportunity to appear dignified to the workers and dispossessed of their country, who would spill their blood at this moment to defend the vote—whether or not they voted for the PRD. Why? Because this one election symbolizes all the grievances of the Mexican people against the right wing. This fraud has the potential to bring together the entire Left.
Because López Obrador and the PRD leaders are not spearheading the popular mobilization to defend the vote, the most conscious forces of the country need to do something similar to what the Cuban young people did in 1952. Together, in a joint campaign, they would represent among themselves Mexico’s full revolutionary spectrum. And it was out of that fight by Cuban youth against a military coup that the ‘decency’ of Cuba arose—something which, just as in Mexico, could not be found in electoral decisions.
The spectacle offered by the process of the July election in Mexico is embarrassing: ‘two votes for you, two votes for me,’ as in a children’s game. The PRD should authoritatively renounce such an election. By not doing so, it becomes the sad party that has been made out to be the fool twice in a row—it might as well be wearing a dunce cap. And some of the best Mexican workers pin their hopes on the PRD!
If, in the end, the PRD leadership does follow the path of the deposed Cuban president Prio Socarrÿs, then the Mexican people should also take the corresponding action. It is the only dignified alternative that remains. In taking to the streets, people would acknowledge one another anew, and there would emerge the authentic political organization so needed in the country. The EZLN’s Other Campaign should consider itself summoned. In fact, this corruption, the bad taste of this election, was foreseen by the EZLN!
To say that the EZLN ‘took votes away from’ López Obrador [by criticizing the electoral process as a sham] is truly infantile, since the votes were divided exactly in two. All the EZLN did was to tell people not to believe in this farce—not to have faith in elections because they have ceased to offer the country any alternatives.
As to the announced difference between PAN and the PRD of 200,000 votes out of tens of millions—good Lord! Statistically, what is the margin of error in that count? As everyone knows, any measurement has an uncertainty that should never be greater than the difference in the final result. How much error is present in the difference?
I believe that this is the moment for the Other Campaign to become the Real Campaign, a vehicle for the Mexican people to participate in winning back their dignity—with or without the EZLN, and with or without the PRD leadership—just as Cuban young people did in 1952.
No alliances with the exploiters! At a July 6 press conference, López Obrador said: ‘We cannot accept the results; there are many irregularities, and I’m talking about that day and the election in general. There are so many irregularities and inconsistencies that, within the four days established by law, we will present a formal appeal contesting the results before the IFE [Federal Electoral Institute].’
But the reason why the election result is unacceptable goes back much further in time. The participatory democracy of the people is decisive; having a political voice isn’t only about voting. Mexico did itself proud when its people filled Zócalo Square to protest the violation of López Obrador’s rights.
Electoral democracy in Mexico is taking its last breaths. There is no possibility now of implementing it by traditional methods. And it won’t be necessary to wait long to see this proved. A July 6 editorial in La Jornada says as much:
‘Today’s tallies … will be seen as invalid by a large part of the electorate. This will inevitably result in one of two scenarios: either acceptance of a general recount of the votes, which is not likely to be carried out on a vote-by-vote basis; or a contesting of the vote before the [federal] Electoral Court, with the possibility that the court would decide to annul the vote and call for a provisional government. This could be the undesirable result of the irresponsibility and myopia of the political class in general, and of the ruling group in particular.’
Cubans in 1952 succeeded in rearming themselves from the manure pile of a military dictatorship: Mexicans can do the same from this blow in the electoral arena. In both cases, the right wing suppressed an already thin democracy. In Cuba, the Left grew strong defending democracy, and by making democracy real brought about the triumph of one of the world’s most radical revolutions—a bit to the south of Mexico, which is still to be redeemed. Before the curse of 1988 [when the Mexican presidential election was stolen from Cuauhtémoc Cÿrdenas], there was 1952 and that which followed afterward, the Cuban revolution of 1959.
But Cuba was not the only place where revolution triumphed in Latin America during the 20th century. Mexico was the other. And within the Mexican people are revolutionary genes that can make the earth shake.
And that is why I am shaking with happiness—at the possibility that this people will break free from the stupid, pro-Yankee grip of PAN National Action Party and develop in a truly revolutionary way in the coming years.
For those who try to divide the planet in two according to geography, Mexico provides the answer. No! No, the fundamental contradiction is not between poor and rich countries. In Mexico, the oligarchy voted for the White House’s candidate without any regard for Mexico’s national interests. The real contradiction is between exploited and exploiters.
I still hear people say that we can make alliances with would-be national bourgeoisies. Ah, but as Che put it inimitably: ‘The national bourgeoisies have lost all capacity to oppose imperialism—if they ever had it—and all they do is guard its flank.’
For this reason, Mexican comrades, the struggle at its foundation does not reduce to ‘vote by vote’—because those who are counting the votes are the same forces who are snatching the presidency away from the PRD for the second time.
The struggle is city by city, street by street, and jungle by jungle.