Chupacabras and Jose-Pablo Buerba

I go sometimes, to see family and enjoy. It is really a hedonistic trip with too much beer, too much tequila (Siete Leguas, because Villa’s horse deserves a tequila). Especially for Nochebuena, when we all get together to celebrate and talk about chupacabras, the bullshit news stories used to distract us.

I go and walk around, I take part and smile. I raise my fist and a middle finger. Typically, the middle finger is reserved for that ugly white building where the US Embassy is. How dare they put it next to El Angel de Independencia! But then again, it is the yanqui empire. Would they do it any different?

I digress.

I write this in response to Jose-Pablo Buerba, interviewed by Mateo Pimentel on this site, CounterPunch. I have never read such beautifully crafted propaganda for the PRI in English. Not just the PRI, but propaganda to prop up the structural reforms that are also at the heart of the protests in Mexico. It is pure chupacabras!

The first premise that Esther Gordillo spurred on any street-level political activism from behind bars is laughable. Her union, Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educación (SNTE), were not the principal agitators in the historic city center of Mexico City. Actually, she has been integral to the “reforms” being protested since the last PAN administration, which she supported. Her union is a “sindicato amarillista”, a sell-out organization with more links to power than having anything to do with rank and file unionism. She was more likely jailed for supporting the PAN, a kind of revenge for ditching the authoritarian PRI who ruled Mexico for 70 years.

The folks who occupied the city center before they were forcibly removed were educators from the Coordinadora Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educación (CNTE), an alternative union founded in 1979 by SNTE dissident members. They protested because the problem education has in Mexico has never been some idiotic need for “standards”, but for proper funding. Please, visit a school in rural Mexico, and don’t be surprised if doesn’t have four walls. The students at the rural normal in Ayotzinapa were destined to teach at those schools; to teach with a radical, emancipatory love for their communities. How dare Buerba equate them with that sell-out Gordillo.

From the trash Gordillo point with no relation to reality, Buerba moves on to a further unrealistic idea of populism misdirected at the PRI. This point is based on Iguala’s mayor (Mateo wrote governor, but Iguala is a city and “alcalde” translates as mayor) Abarca being from the PRD, the center-left party in Mexico. Protesters in Mexico know this, which is why they chant, “Ni PRI ni PAN ni PRD” [neither PRI nor PAN nor PRD]. Buerba probably never was at a single protest, so his idea of what the people are protesting probably comes from La Reforma, like every other elitist defeño.

Just like he doesn’t know that people readily link the 43 students to the structural reforms and the selling out of their country to foreign capital to benefit national elites. People in the country that gave birth to the Zapatistas know! The protestors who were out against the structural reforms in months past come from the same radical sectors of society that are currently protesting the murder of 43 students. A protest message that is typically stated to include 30,000 more, which is a reference to the total estimated disappeared in the country.

Buerba wouldn’t want to admit that the protesters are much more holistic in their analysis. Instead, Buerba justifies the fiscal reform, which will hurt small market vendors and benefit large scale corporations. Most vendors only survive because they exist in the informal economy not paying taxes. However, Buerba considers this reform positive because, and I quote, “Small businesses in Mexico have to pay more taxes now, “but what they don’t realize,” says Buerba, “is the upside of the macroeconomics at work: paying higher taxes might eventually make the whole country better.”” The people who already barely survive must make the country better. Buerba sounds like a Sachs type, blaming the poor for the rich’s theft.

Or when he justifies the privatization of PEMEX, as meant to make it “a more productive firm; without the energy reforms, PEMEX will not have the resources necessary to exploit all the resources that Mexico has.” If you look at the history, PEMEX was purposefully starved to make way for privatization, its productivity problems a direct product of the drive to privatize. Furthermore, privatization is about breaking the powerful petroleros union, and as always, a give-away to capital. Losing a third to 70% of the Mexican federal budget as going to make the country as a whole better-off seems like the kind of idiocy only someone drunk off of neoclassical economic models would think.

Privatization has been a goal at least since the 80s neoliberal turn with Miguel de la Madrid, and has always been about transnational capital and never about helping the Mexican people. Buerba is either naïve or a great propagandist. When Mateo writes, “to allow it the space to become as competitive as possible for the supposed benefit of the people”, I wonder if it was done with a straight face.

Lastly, if this is an international and national propaganda campaign to oust Enrique Peña Nieto (EPN), it is being done with a yawn by those in the driver seat. As I have written prior, just do a comparison of the Venezuela protests and their coverage internationally to the Mexican protests and their coverage to understand that Mexico is not only being undercovered, but that the violence in Mexico is still being treated as “natural”. As Dawn Paley lays out in Drug War Capitalism, militarization in the service of neoliberal transnational capital makes this violence anything but natural.

Or, as I wrote even before that, just watch the fawning of Mexico’s corporate media over EPN. If they were planning on eventually ousting him, they certainly put a lot of resources in first building him up, in making him invincible to pass the reforms. The idea that the Mexican elite are against them, even that they are against the anti-monopoly law is laughable. They don’t care, because the same “Grupos” (as many of the investment firms are called; such as, Carlos Slim’s Grupo Carso) will just purchase stocks in the new companies.

This interview was pure chupacabras. It disparaged legitimate protest with no understanding of what they were calling for. It supported EPN, who should be behind bars for Atenco. It supported structural reforms that are about privatization and further neoliberalism. It then acted as if it was combating propaganda, when it is the propaganda.


Andrew Smolski is a writer.

Andrew Smolski is a writer and sociologist.