May 22, 2012

Huge March against the PRI and the System in Mexico City

(Americas Program Original Translation)

Gloria Muñoz Ramírez  Tens of thousands of men and women of different generations, mostly youth, took to the streets on May 19 to make it clear, in their words, that “here we are and we are going to make you listen.” 

The march, organized through social networks, was to protest against the presidential candidate Enrique Peña Nieto, of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), but the broader objective for many was “against the entire system, not only against one party,” indicated Trinidad Ramírez of the People’s Front in Defense of the Land (FPDT), one of the veteran organizations. 

The large mobilization literally marched against the current. It began in the Zócalo, instead of the traditional ending there, continued to Avenue Reforma and poured out around the Angel of Independence. There were no flags and few party slogans; it was more of a protest against “the lies that everyone has told us, and against Peña Nieto who has Televisa at his service,” said Ernesto Figueroa, a student of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). 

In an interview with Desinformémonos, Trinidad Ramírez insisted that Peña Nieto must be held accountable for the repression of their organization in Atenco, where a youth was killed and scores of people were totured and raped in pólice custody. During the march, the large Peoples Front group were joined by students from the IberoAmerican University, who carried a banner showing Peña Nieto on that fateful day when he visited their university and faced boos and questioning. “The young people told us that ‘we are not alone,’ and brought us the white banner with black letters and red markings that said ‘We are all Atenco!’. The youth are not understood. It is a sector that is easily mistaken as passive and unconcerned.  But there is discontent and the youth are the ones expressing it,” said Ms. Ramírez. 

“We need politicians with a social conscience, not a business one,” “Without memory there is no future,” “We are not blind, we still have eyes,” were some of the banners that the group carried. The sentiment against the PRI candidate was apparent: “Don’t give your vote to Peña Nieto, better give him a book” (for his campaign faux pas of being unable to cite a single recent book he had read) or “Money makes him dance” and, in a more serious tone, “The TV is yours, but not the streets.” 

The representative of the People’s Front, the organization that was harshly repressed by Peña Nieto, when governor of the state of Mexico, insisted that the march “is not a movement for any political party. It is actually against the entire system, requiring that everyone listen and pay attention to the demands of the people and not dismiss them.” Above all, it was a march “that filled us with hope and now it is necessary to keep going with organizing.”  

“We do not have a single government that represents us,” added Trinidad, “nor any party, even though it is clear that Peña Nieto is the one that has unfinished matters from Atenco. What is clear is that we will not permit that he, or Josefina Vázquez Mota, or Andrés Manuel López Obrador do whatever they want. Of everyone we demand justice and respect for our land.” 

The demonstration was festive and peaceful, under the spring heat of a city monitored by police. The Ibero students and other prívate schools are the novelty now, but many students turned out from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) and the Technical Institute. Gabriela Oliveros, from the Faculty of Political and Social Sciences of the UNAM, said: “People believe that there is no social consciousness and that we are asleep, but we are at a time when the internet allows information to be spread globally and, thanks to that, it is creating unity and organization in society with events like this.” 

A couple rested on the steps of the Angel of Independence. Mariela and Adrián, both more than 60 years of age and tired out from the long walk, said they came to demonstrate their repudiation of the candidate Enrique Peña Nieto. They had heard about the event on the internet and decided to come, above all, they said because “this is a march where there are no colors or parties. It is about an organized group that decided to protest against a candidate that wants to impose harm on us.” For this reason, they dressed in white and walked all the way from the Zócalo to the Angel because “we do not want to see the PRI in the presidency again.” 

Sara went to the march with her daughter Angela who brought her three sons, ages 6, 10 and 11. They went because Angela had seen the event on the internet and decided to go with her mom and children. Angela is a graduate in International Business, but sells tacos “because there is no work.” Sara, her mother, has a small business renting chairs and tables, but “that almost doesn’t turn a profit.” They had brought the children, they said, “because it is important for the young ones to develop a historical and political conscience.” 

From her political experience of a decade of activism and organization, Trinidad Ramírez warns that “there is a risk, and it would be naive not to see it, that a party or organization could manipulate and take advantage of the movement.” But, she insists, “it all depends on us, on the people, to keep doing things, having forums in schools, in the neighborhoods, informing and organizing.” 

“I am not corrupt,” declared a sign carried by a student. “I am here because I believe in the truth, the goodness, and the beauty of Mexico--whole and united. We’ve had enough lies”, he said. Jonathan Irineo, a student of Political and Social Sciences added, “the most important thing is that the students question the candidates, right or left, and we demonstrate this up until the last days. Our companions at the  Ibero demonstrated their indignation at the presence of Peña Nieto in their university, and now we are demonstrating ours by organizing of this march.”

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