When people take politics into their own hands, bourgeois governments get scared. They begin to call dignified, independent citizens terrorists or troublemakers. It is in these moments that the dictatorial face of systems normally referred to as ‘democracies’ begins to show.
The Mexican government’s response to the advance of autodefensas (self-defence or community police forces) has shown regular, apolitical citizens what many politically engaged Mexicans already knew – that their political leaders do not serve the people. The autodefensas, committed to defending communities from the violence and extortion brought by drug cartels like the Caballeros Templarios (Knights Templar Cartel), have succeeded where the government has failed. They have pushed back the criminal gangs and protected innocent citizens from drug-related violence.
However, between January 13th and January 14th, at the request of government officials, the army has been deployed to disarm the autodefensas. People have reportedly died, and children are thought to be among those killed. However, the autodefensas, who have stated on numerous occasions their willingness to work with the government to fight against organised crime, refuse to give in lightly.
The injured autodefensa spokesperson José Mireles supposedly released a message supporting the government request for the autodefensas to disarm. However, this message is thought to have been faked, with Mireles later stating, as on many occasions before, that the autodefensas should not put down their arms until drug cartels no longer plague Mexican communities.
We will have to wait and see what the repercussions of the government’s actions tonight will be, but this event is likely to leave a massive stain on President Peña Nieto’s presidency – which has already been incredibly controversial in spite of only being one year old. It may also help to open up the eyes of more Mexican citizens to the fact that the government does not want people to take their lives and the future of their nation into their own hands. The sooner Mexicans, and citizens throughout the world, realise this fact, the sooner they will increase their resistance to the current political system and move closer to ending the rule of exploitative global oligarchies.
Twenty years ago, the Zapatistas rose up against the Mexican government, seeking to stop the advance of neoliberal policies. Today, autodefensas have arisen to fight off the drug cartels that have fed off the desperation of the country’s communities and the greed, exploitation and corruption at the heart of the capitalist economic and political system. The government today probably fears losing municipalities just like it did with Zapatista territories in Chiapas. And those in charge of the country don’t like the idea of people standing up for themselves and demonstrating their independence from the political establishment.
That is why the military has been sent in to disarm the autodefensas. That is why the police have attacked CNTE teachers protesting in Mexico City. Resistance cannot be tolerated, and must be stamped out in order to ensure the compliance of the population. However, these tactics will likely be counterproductive. Instead of instilling fear into its citizens, the government’s actions will simply give them even more reasons to fight.
The tides are changing. Bourgeois governments can try all they like, but they cannot suppress the dignity of their people forever. They may win battles but, ultimately, they won’t win the war. People are gaining knowledge and courage, and resistance is growing. And that momentum will only increase.