Some of you have heard of our struggle, some of you have not. I'd like to offer you a brief introduction, to what is happening here, and why it matters.
Some of you, as well, will have heard of that the 2006 Presidential Election in Mexico may have been "stolen." I can tell you that it was-- I lived through the events, with the campaign, first-hand.
But the fact of the matter is, no Federal "election" in Mexico has been "clean" since before 1929-- with the possible exception of 2000. They were all rigged.
English speakers often refer to Mexico as having been under "single party rule." What they're talking about is an oppressive regime, the PRI, which took control of Mexico following the assassination of President Obregon.
The PRI has remained in power by-- the gun, and the boot on the neck. How it "wins" elections ranges from the gift and the bribe, to all the means of coercion, including violence and shooting the opposition on the way to the polls.
Some say this is over, that the election of 2000 changed everything, that Mexico today has democracy. Yet I have a first-hand report from earlier tonight, than Pena Nieto, the PRI's "candidate" (or puppet) for the Presidency this year, ordered his henchmen to beat up students protesting his regime.
Do people care about Mexico? Why does it matter?
And-- can one call one (possibly) clean election in close to a century-- "democracy?" Is that possible?
We'll look at that last question in the coming weeks, as the "election" approaches.
For now, I hope to share with you a little more history, outline what AMLO is doing, and introduce you to Mexico's movements for democracy and national regeneration.
Behind the PRI-- the "Party" is sort of the political arm, of those who truly hold power in Mexico. Of the oligarchy which has ruled Mexico since 1929, ten or twenty Families who have grasped tightly onto power at any cost.
Over Mother's Day dinner, my friends lowered their voices when they spoke of the Families. They had better-- such matters are life and death. One doesn't challenge the Regime.
These matters are written back in the history of Mexico. Before the Party, Porfirio Diaz became Mexico's great dictator. Think of him as Emperor Palpatine, except for the title he used. He took over the Presidency, called himself the "President"-- and each election, promised that he would step down and hold free and fair elections-- next time.
For thirty-five years. That beats Mubarek.
It's hard to see through such veils of deception, the smoke-screen of promises and lies. "Just wait," they say. Again and again, Mexicans have been told that their elections will be free and democratic, that democracy will be restored, and again and again, they've been lied to.
Are they being lied to in 2012? Time may tell-- or we may never know.
In 1988, Mexico almost had a free election. When the sitting PRI "President," de la Madrid, heard from his ministers that the candidate of the democratic opposition had somehow "gotten more votes" at the polls-- Madrid put troops in the streets, then announced that "the computers counting the votes, have crashed."
Ten days later, amid the fog the Party had spread, Madrid released fake results that said the Party's candidate, Salinas de Gortari, had won. With guns pointed at them in the streets, few dared question this version of "reality."
One may learn much in Mexico, of fraudulent elections, about the tools and consequences of oppression, and what they bring.
De Gortari, the "President" who had been appointed by fraud, attempted moderate democratic and economic reforms in his first two years. His Party masters then pulled his chain, forcing him in the other direction.
What then followed was the worst economic disaster in modern Mexican history, coupled with an unprecedented transfer of wealth to the rich. Mexico's economic crisis today, is the direct result of this fraud, and this political-economic mistake.
Citizens of the United States, of democracies strong or floundering, listen up! Every democracy in the world, tilts in the direction above.
This is what matters in the tale, today. In a decade of working in and around AMLO's movement, I became more and more struck by how Mexico's problems are similar to the United States and elsewhere-- and by what we may learn.
In 2006, as we were hit by the shock of an election being stolen around us, I could hardly predict the state of the United States in 2012. But it may be that we are all headed for the same cliffs, and can learn by looking at the driver in front of us.
In the wake of 2006, AMLO and his followers formed an opposition government, a renewed democracy movement, and then "morena,' a movement for national regeneration.
Perhaps it is time for someone in the United States, to do the same.
In following YouTube videos, AMLO presents the core points of a plan for renewal:
Some of these points seem directly relevant to the United States. Others reflect political and economic conditions, parallel but quite different.
Just as well, they present a very different way of looking at and approaching the problems of nationhood-- a different and alternative vision of who we are and what we can become.
In part, this effort reflects an attempt to envision and create a "new economics," a new political economy. This reflects the long work of AMLO's economic team, and many, many other individuals.
In the coming weeks, along the path to the election, I will address the questions above in more depth, and present you with more detailed exploration of each part of the plan for renewal.
Those who wish to skip ahead a little, may look at AMLO's channel in English: http://bit.ly/AMLO-English.