Grandizo Munis

Mexico After the Elections

Danger of Reactionary Coup Grows,
Aided By Corrupt Stalinist-Toledano Methods

(28 September 1940)

From Socialist Action, Vol. 4 No. 39, 28 September 1940, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

This time, much more than on any previous occasion, the Mexican presidential elections have been extremely important. Powerful interests are in play on both sides, having mobilized themselves for the struggle with an activity which has not been known for many years. The strictly national importance of the conflict is augmented by the existence of the European war.

It is necessary to give a short sketch of the conditions under which the country is now living and the interests opposing a revolt against the control exercised on all the presidents of the Republic by Plutarco Elias Calles, the real ruler. Cardenas himself was only raised to the presidency because he was thought to be a man who could be easily manipulated by Calles’s order.

In rejecting Calles, Cardenas had to find some support in the poorest classes of the city and country. By defending the right to strike, which Calles desired to stamp out, he won the goodwill of the workers; by promising to divide up the large estates he won the good-will of the peasants. By these two simple means he succeeded in carrying through the political move and changes which permitted him to defeat Calles.

The latter’s principal support, the National Revolutionary Party was dissolved and the Party of the Mexican Revolution (Partido de la Revoluciòn Mexicana) was created in its place. In opposition to the trade-union movement of the Mexican Regional Workers’ Confederation (CROM) completely controlled by Calles, Cardenas initiated the creation of the Confederation of Mexican Workers (GTM) and the National Peasants’ Confederation (CNC). The establishment of the ejidos, by dividing up numerous large estates among the peasants, the establishment of a minimum wage of two pesos a day, and the expropriation of the national railways and of the oil companies, are the basic measures which gave Cardenas’s government its early popularity and its democratic character.

The Limits of What Cardenas Achieved

But however important these may appear, they have only served to confirm our estimate of the character of modern social movements in countries of colonial or semi-colonial economy. From the first day, the bourgeoisie and petty bourgeoisie have been rejecting Cardenas’s modest reforms. The reforms have irritated the bourgeoisie without having succeeded in satisfying the workers and peasants. The PRM, which consists of the top bureaucratic and military hierarchies, the CTM and the CNC, constitute fundamentally the same party that served as a base for Calles. Any right swing on the part of the victorious presidential candidate will find the same basis and adaptability in the PRM as did the left swing of Cardenas.

The CTM and the CNC, in the hands of an extraordinarily corrupt bureaucracy, play and traffic with the workers’ interests in exactly the same way as a piece of goods is trafficked. The general line of the leaders is submission to the government, the line being accompanied with pure and simple selling out to the employers. In many unions the leaders of the CTM are in the pay of the bourgeoisie, from whom they receive a regular wage.

The situation of the small new proprietors in the countryside has not improved with the dividing up of the lands. If before they were exploited by the landholders they are now exploited by the bank which lends them money, by their leaders, and by the companies to which they find themselves compelled to sell their products at a low price.

The bankrupt situation of the railways and oil wells has recently been given public notice. This is due in part to the boycott and to the maneuvers of the American imperialists, but to a great extent the responsibility falls on the bureaucrats of the CTM. Being the real administrators of both undertakings they grant themselves extremely high salaries and bonuses, while the economic position of the workers has either not improved or has obviously deteriorated. The rise in prices, which has been going on for years now. aggravates the situation of all the poor classes. Accordingly the hatred of the workers and peasants is concentrating itself against the bureaucrats of the CTM, of the CNC, and the government.

The Reactionaries Rally Around Almazan

For its part the feeble Mexican bourgeoisie, always opposed to Cardenas’s reforms, has exploited the situation in order to rise in a tumult of totalitarian fever. This is the origin of General Juan Andrew Almazan’s candidacy, conceived in Monterrey, the most important grouping in the Mexican bourgeoisie. Upon arriving in Mexico City as candidate his first declaration was made in condemnation of the class struggle, proclaiming himself the candidate of “order” and of the “integrity of the family.”

Almost all if not all the petty bourgeoisie lined up behind Almazan immediately. Certain backward elements among the workers and peasants were also pushed towards him by the corruption of the trade-union leaders. In general three-quarters of the importance which the Almazanist movement has acquired is due to the repulsion inspired in the masses by the activities of the CTM bureaucracy, directly linked up with the Stalinist bureaucracy. As has been proven many times in Europe the reaction receives its chief strength from the reformist bureaucracy.

To the destruction of the working class represented by Almazan, the official party, P.R.M., opposed its own candidate, General Avila Camacho.

Camacho’s Program Does Not Exist

Avila Camacho’s program? – some impudent Trotskyite will ask. It doesn’t exist. In order to calm the most conscious workers Lombardo Toledano’s bureaucrats take pleasure in repeating that Avila Camacho is going to continue Cardenas’s work.

But, regardless of what Lombardo Toledano’s camarilla says, the attitude Avila Camacho will take towards the working-class gains is more than suspect. In a speech made at Puebla he finally said that it was necessary to “direct politics into Christian paths.” In other perorations he allowed it to be seen that his policies would be directed against the proletariat and the peasants. After proclaiming his victory in the Chamber of Deputies the press that once sympathized with Almazan is now submitting itself to Camacho, inducing him to start a radical change of men and methods. In this way the Stalinists and Lombardists, by removing from the electoral campaign the demands of the poor classes, have made possible with Avila Camacho’s victory the annihilation of those gains already made.

Almazan Danger Still Imminent

But the danger which the trade union bureaucrats and the lackeys of Moscow have brought close to us is much greater. The menace of Almazan has not subsided with the proclamation of Camacho’s victory. The candidate of “order” and the “family” has made an appeal for a reactionary insurrection. Immediately afterwards Calles made an appearance in Texas at a secret conference with his Almazanist cronies. The selection of Texas is not accidental; it has all the conditions of favorable surroundings and financial support which the reaction needs in order to execute its plans.

Almazan has persistently sought the support of Yankee imperialism. The latter, which does not feel itself threatened in the slightest by Avila Camacho cannot be inclined to provoke a civil war in Mexico, particularly now, when the Monroe Doctrine has just as much value as the American navy, according to old Theodore Roosevelt’s expression. But the Texas politicians have a different point of view and seem disposed to support Almazan to the finish. He will receive money and war material from Texas, in case an Almazanist uprising breaks out. The workers’ organizations of this state should begin to act against Almazan and the American politicians aiding him.

We need scarcely say what the victory of an Almazanist insurrection would mean for the working class and the peasants. There would be a return of the epoch of mass deportations to the Maria islands and of unpunished shootings; all democratic liberties would be suppressed, the land would be torn away from the peasants and wages would fall even below what they are already.

Against this threat the living conditions now enjoyed by workers and peasants are not, however, sufficiently attractive to throw them with enthusiasm into the struggle against Almazan. The latter is hoping that the impoverished masses, deceived and betrayed by the Lombardist bureaucracy, will view any reactionary uprising with passivity.

Corrupt Bureaucrats Help Almazan

The reaction always counts for its victory upon the dissatisfaction provoked by reformist policy, to which in Mexico there must be added an unbounded corruption. It counts upon the dissatisfaction in the bourgeoisie and petty bourgeoisie, always afraid that the masses may pass from reformism to genuine revolutionary action; and on the dissatisfaction in the proletariat and peasantry, whose economic condition is not improving noticeably and is in many cases getting worse. Blaming the corruption of the reformist bureaucracy on the revolution, the bourgeoisie seeks to neutralize the working class in order to impose its yoke upon it. A bourgeois pays a Lombardist leader for him to liquidate a strike or fire a revolutionary worker, and then goes on to make some reflections of the “revolutionary” morale of the working-class leader! In this way the bureaucracy performs the double service for the bourgeoisie of freeing it of the workers’ revolutionary action and giving it arguments against the workers’ movement. The success of this bourgeois propaganda is most considerable in the backward sections where the workers cannot distinguish between the corrupt trade union bureaucracy and a revolutionary class policy. In case Almazan succeeds in making an insurrection he will not fall to encounter an auxiliary, passive at least, in the repugnance which the activities of the trade union and Stalinist bureaucracy have provoked among the workers.

Last updated on 17 August 2020