News From the Mexico Solidarity Network (USA)

Mexico Solidarity Network (usa)

Red de Solidaridad con Mexico

MEXICO SOLIDARITY NETWORK
WEEKLY NEWS AND ANALYSIS
SEPTEMBER 15-21, 2008

1. ZAPATISTAS ANNOUNCE FESTIVAL OF DIGNIFIED RAGE (deleted as appears elsewhere in this blog)
2. INDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES CHALLENGE TOLL ROAD CONSTRUCTION
3. PRD HOLDS NATIONAL CONGRESS
4. UNEMPLOYMENT REACHES 4.15% IN AUGUST
5. SUSPECTED CARTELS MOUNT BRAZEN ATTACK IN MORELIA
6. MSN PROGRAM HIGHLIGHTS (Contact MSN@MexicoSolidarity.org)

1. ZAPATISTAS ANNOUNCE FESTIVAL OF DIGNIFIED RAGE(Translated by El Kilombo Intergaláctico) (see separate post on this blog)

2. INDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES CHALLENGE TOLL ROAD CONSTRUCTION
Dozens of indigenous communities located between San Cristobal de las Casas and Palenque are challenging construction of a toll highway that would connect the two tourist centers.  The proposed 100 mile highway, which would impact hundreds of indigenous communities, is supported by hotel owners and tourist agencies in both cities.  Mexico charges the highest toll rates in the world, and it could easily cost more than a day’s minimum wage to travel from San Cristobal to Palenque on the proposed highway.  By law, non-toll roads must travel parallel to toll roads so that drivers have an option, but typically the non-toll roads quickly deteriorate after the toll road is in operation.  Indigenous communities are opposed to giving up land for the benefit of tourist operations.

3. PRD HOLDS NATIONAL CONGRESS
Unable to conduct a fraud-free election for party leaders, the PRD held its eleventh national conference this weekend in Mexico City with temporary appointed officials at the helm.  Party President Guadalupe Acosta, who took office as a replacement after national party elections in March were declared invalid, was met with calls to step resign from the Izquierda Unida faction, aligned with former presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.  The so-called “Chuchos,” the faction led by conservative party hack Jesus Ortega, dominated the Congress with 63% of the delegates, while Izquierda Unida controlled about 30%.  The Chuchos, also known as Nueva Izquierda, and their allies control most of the formal party apparatus.  The party congress hopes to establish unity in anticipation of a round of federal and state elections in 2009.

4. UNEMPLOYMENT REACHES 4.15% IN AUGUST
Unemployment soured to 4.15% in August, a dramatic increase over the 3.92% rate registered the previous month.  Workers are considered employed if they work at least one hour per month.  Mexico does not have unemployment insurance.  Women registered an unemployment rate of 4.59%, while 4.01% of men were without work.  In the formal sector, which accounts for only about half of all workers, 40.9% are employed in services, 19.6% in the commercial sector and 15.8% in industry.

In related news, the maquiladora sector in Chihuahua State, one of the most important growth centers over most of the past two decades, lost 26,000 jobs so far this year, with 80% in the relatively high paid automotive industry.  Many businesses, including the giant Lear Corporation plant in Ciudad Juarez with 10,000 employees, have been paying workers 50% of their salaries in response to decreasing demand from parent companies in the US.  The powerful Association of Maquiladoras in Ciudad Juarez is demanding government “incentives,” including reduced taxes and subsidies.  Sandra Montijo, President of the Association, threatened that many maquiladoras would move to other parts of Mexico or other countries that were offering more attractive financial enticements.

5. SUSPECTED CARTELS MOUNT BRAZEN ATTACK IN MORELIA
Suspected drug cartel members threw fragmentation grenades into a crowd of civilians gathered for Independence Day celebrations in Morelia, capitol of Michoacan, which is the home state of President Felipe Calderon.  As of this writing, nine people are dead and many are still hospitalized with life-threatening injuries.  More than 100 revelers were injured in the attack, apparently the work of drug cartels challenging Calderon’s war on drugs, though to date no one has publicly claimed responsibility.  Since taking office in December 2006, Calderon has dispatched more than 25,000 soldiers to at least nine states in a virtual militarization of the country.  Michoacan was the first state to receive a military detachment dedicated to the drug war.  Calderon’s strategy, focused on interrupting drug transport routes rather than targeting cartel finances, has come under increasing criticism as violence spreads without any sign that the government is winning the battle.

In related news, Italy and the US reported 175 members of the powerful Gulf Cartel were arrested on Wednesday, part of an ongoing investigation that has netted 507 arrests over the past fifteen months.

6. MSN PROGRAM HIGHLIGHTS (Contact MSN@MexicoSolidarity.org)

STUDY ABROAD PROGRAM:
Fall 2008, September 7 – December 13: Study in Chiapas, Tlaxcala, Mexico City and Ciudad Juarez, focusing on the theory and practice of Mexican social movements, including indigenous movements, campesino organizations, and urban movements.

Spring 2009, January 25 – May 2: Study in Chiapas, Tlaxcala, Mexico City and Ciudad Juarez, focusing on the theory and practice of Mexican social movements, including indigenous movements, campesino organizations, and urban movements.

Fall 2009, September 6 – December 12: Study in Chiapas, Tlaxcala, Mexico City and Ciudad Juarez, focusing on the theory and practice of Mexican social movements, including indigenous movements, campesino organizations, and urban movements.

CHICAGO AUTONOMOUS CENTER (3460 W. LAWRENCE AVE.)

ESL and Spanish Literacy classes: Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday evenings, 6:30-8:30pm.  Classes utilize popular education strategies to increase conversational English capacity and basic reading and writing skills in Spanish.

Cultural events and political workshops:

For a full schedule of cultural events and political workshops, contact the Mexico Solidarity Network at 773-583-7728 or visit http://www.mexicosolidarity.org/communityforum

SPEAKING TOURS:
Contact MSN@MexicoSolidarity.org to schedule an event in your city.

October 19-31, 2008 (Northwest): Plan Mexico.  Carlos Euceda will discuss Plan Mexico (aka the Merida Initiative), a bilateral security initiative that will provide $1.5 billion in US military financing for Mexico’s army and intelligence forces.

October 12-24, 2008 (New England): Border dynamics.  Veronica Leyva, a native of Ciudad Juarez, will speak about maquiladoras, immigration and struggles for land along the border, with particular emphasis on the Lomas de Poleo struggle.  Veronia is the MSN staff person in Ciudad Juarez.  She worked for seven years in maquiladoras and six years as a labor/community organizer before joining the MSN staff in 2004.

November 9-21, 2008 (Midwest): Immigration dynamics and Braceros.  A representative of the National Assembly of ex-Braceros from Tlaxcala will discuss current struggles by Braceros and the lessons of the Bracero program for the debate on immigration reform.  Braceros were Mexican guest workers who came to the US under a post-World War II treaty.

November 9-21, 2008 (California): Immigration dynamics and Braceros.  A representative of the National Assembly of ex-Braceros from Tlaxcala will discuss current struggles by Braceros and the lessons of the Bracero program for the debate on immigration reform.  Braceros were Mexican guest workers who came to the US under a post-World War II treaty.  Macrina Cardenas, President of the MSN board of directors, will accompany the tour.

February 8-21, 2009 (Southeast): Border dynamics.  Veronica Leyva, a native of Ciudad Juarez, will speak about maquiladoras, immigration and struggles for land along the border, with particular emphasis on the Lomas de Poleo struggle.  Veronia is the MSN staff person in Ciudad Juarez.  She worked for seven years in maquiladoras and six years as a labor/community organizer before joining the MSN staff in 2004.

February 15-28, 2009 (Mid Atlantic): Immigration dynamics and Braceros.  A representative of the National Assembly of ex-Braceros from Tlaxcala will discuss current struggles by Braceros and the lessons of the Bracero program for the debate on immigration reform.  Braceros were Mexican guest workers who came to the US under a post-World War II treaty.

March 15-28, 2009 (New York state): Free trade, fair trade and the dynamics of alternative economies.

March 22 – April 4, 2009 (Midwest): Immigration dynamics, featuring migrant workers from the Midwest.

March 29 – April 11, 2009 (New England): Urban housing struggles and the war against popular organizations in Mexico.

April 5-18, 2009 (West Coast): The Other Campaign and campesino organizing, featuring an organizer from the Concejo Nacional Urbano Campesino.

ALTERNATIVE ECONOMY INTERNSHIPS:
Develop markets for artisanry produced by women’s cooperatives in Chiapas and make public presentations on the struggle for justice and dignity in Zapatista communities.

Interns are currently active in:  New York City; El Paso, TX; Salt Lake City, UT; Rochester, NY; Albuquerque, NM; Washington, DC; Chico, CA; Stonington, ME; Minneapolis, MN; Berkeley, CA; Grand Rapids, MI; Salem, OR; Santa Cruz, CA; Chatham, NJ; Rutland, MA; Chicago, IL; Corpus Christi, TX; and Houston, TX

Please accept our apologies if you have received this email in error. To be removed from the Mexico Solidarity Network mailing list, please send a blank message to allies-unsubscribe@mexicosolidarity.org

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