Mexico 1968, today’s political legacy

The regime of despotic presidentialism responded with repression and massacre. Thus the movement was defeated, but its cause would be stronger and brighter. Little by little, some freedoms began to be respected or less trampled. Association, meeting, demonstration, expression, press, gradually acquired naturalization letter in large regions of the country. Ten years later, in 1978, there was a political reform that allowed new oppositions to be present in the Chamber of Deputies and access to radio and television was opened.

However, after 50 years, democratic freedoms cannot be fully exercised. There is a pending agenda. The Mexican school is authoritarian and does not form citizens in democracy; Universities, for the most part, still have vertical forms of management; almost all unions are undemocratic, which prevents their freedom; Collective protection contracts abound; there are hundreds of political prisoners, mostly local conflicts, which does not change their meaning; a strong truly pluralistic state radio and television system has not yet been created; part of the press is still imprisoned in the system of political gazette and chayote; the “cacicazgos” are not scarce; Electoral fraud, among them the purchase of votes with public resources, continues to be a Mexican phenomenon. Despite the length of that pending agenda, it is necessary to address it now in the framework of the struggle for a new participatory democracy. Democratic freedoms must be the general framework for the exercise of new rights: to propose, challenge, decide, revoke, endorse, reject.

The formalism of democracy, a consultation every period of years, is something of the nineteenth century. Although in Mexico it was necessary to fight for a free vote throughout the twentieth century, and although it has not been fully achieved, we must move towards a much more participatory system. The issue is even more relevant as of July 1, when a majority of voters fixed a change in political direction. Trying to achieve fully only formalist democracy would postpone the nucleus of democratic change whose realization is already a popular mandate. The old pending agenda must be resolved within the new agenda because it also contains elements that correspond to the last five decades.

Cries are heard, however, that argue, for example, the technical nature of all public works, to implore that it should never be a reason for popular consultation. The constructions require technology, without a doubt, but they are not that. Motive, necessity, justification and cost coverage must be defined. Therefore, all public works are, first of all, a political decision. Controversies about the execution of works, especially when those are large and expensive, can be consulted to the citizenship, just as if they were about transcendent laws. What is the use of freedom of criticism if the arguments that prevail in the decision are always, in the end, those of the ruler? For this freedom to work, there must be a political channel to challenge and decide: the popular consultation. In the year 2014, the Supreme Court of Justice infringed a blow under the nascent system of direct popular participation. Under the slogan of the Executive, that court, the highest in the country, violated the Constitution by denying the requested consultation on energy reform. This should not happen again.

The revocation of the mandate of the executive positions of the entire State must be a new means to resolve political conflicts that frequently occur. The right to choose must be accompanied by the right to revoke mandates. Thus, all formal, traditional law must be accompanied by another, its complement, which gives people functional power, that is, that builds new citizenship based on democracy. In the 21st century, that could be the political legacy of the 1968 student movement.

Unauthorized translation of the original article in Spanish, published on January 25 (2019), in the newspaper Proceso by Pablo Gómez. 

Source: 1968, legado político de hoy

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