The administration of Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo has responded to the deepening crisis in the same way it has in the past--appealing to U.S. imperialism for help. The Mexican government announced Oct. 5 it would begin repaying its debt to the U.S. ahead of schedule.
Zedillo himself was to deliver $700 million of the $12.5 billion debt on an official visit Oct. 9.
His three-day trip will consist of meetings with President Bill Clinton and with international financiers and business executives. By including a debt repayment, Zedillo hopes to convince big business that the crisis in Mexico is over and the economy is now stabilized.
But the crisis is far from over. Plant closings are a common occurrence now. Lower wages are the norm, for those who can find work. Billions of dollars continue to leave Mexico.
In late September, the Mexican Commerce Ministry authorized a 10-percent price hike for tortillas, the main staple for millions of Mexicans. This was the third such hike in 10 months.
Since the crisis worsened and the U.S. and the International Monetary Fund laid out the terms of new aid to Mexico, the Zedillo government's policy has been repression and more repression.
It conducted a military offensive against the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN), incarcerating dozens. Police are used more often to break up worker demonstrations. The military, along with paramilitary groups financed by big landowners, has been given a free reign to terrorize and kill peasants.
In the state of Guerrero, 71 people have been killed in the last three months. The most recent incident occurred when five men dressed in dark green uniforms seized four peasants while they were at home watching television, took them to the edge of town, and shot them.
But since the heroic uprising of the Zapatistas on Jan. 1, 1994, the peasants, and in particular the Indigenous people, have taken matters into their own hands. Land seizures and skirmishes with the army continue to break out throughout the country
Recently, a struggle over a U.S.-Mexican plan to build a golf course and resort in historic Tepztecos was begun by virtually the entire population of that village. The "golf war," as it has become known, pitted the peasants against Grupo KS, a Mexican corporation, and GTE, the communications giant based in Florida.
Although the battle isn't completely over, the peasants have made it clear that they are not willing to give up their land to the environmental havoc and archeological destruction inherent in the plan for a few low-paying jobs.
Meanwhile the EZLN and the government have announced that on Oct. 17, they will begin "moving on the problems that gave rise to the conflict."
But the EZLN warns that the "strategy of low-intensity warfare ... remains the choice of the Mexican government and is the preference of the Pentagon as well." Although the Zapatistas remain guarded, it is a testament to their continued support among the masses that the government must remain in negotiations.
The Mexican workers and peasants continue to face great odds in fighting the forces of imperialism. But they know that with the help of international support and continued protests, victory will ultimately be theirs.
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