Militarization in Mexico, part of fascistization and fascism

Members of the newly formed gendarmerie march in unison during a 2014 inaugural ceremony at the Federal Police headquarters in Mexico City. (Associated Press)

By the Communist Party of Mexico (Marxist-Leninist). Translated from Spanish.

In recent years, Mexico has experienced a process of militarization unprecedented in its recent history. The federal government has increasingly turned to the armed forces to combat organized crime and maintain public security throughout the country.

Militarization in Mexico has its roots in the consolidation of the bourgeois democratic state, with the need to impose and safeguard the interests of the national and international oligarchy. In our country, the monopolization of state power by the capitalists has allowed an authoritarian and centralized political system in which the federal government exercises almost absolute control over the armed forces and other security agencies. In this context, political violence and repression are a constant in national life.

In the 1920s, Mexican President Plutarco Elías Calles created the Secret Police, which became the Federal Investigation Agency in 1939. Over the following decades, Mexican governments continued to strengthen the role of the police and armed forces in fighting crime and violence, and in the 1960s, the federal police and military began collaborating on joint operations.

Militarization has been presented as necessary to combat crime and the predatory violence created by the system itself and its decomposition. In fact, it is enough to recall the Dirty War in Mexico to put the class character of the use of force under capitalism into context.

The Dirty War began in the 1960s and continued during the ‘70s and ‘80s, although it intensified in the 1980s as a result of the economic crisis that Mexico was going through at that time. During that time, the Mexican government used a number of tactics to repress the working masses and democratic and revolutionary organizations, including enforced disappearance, assassinations, illegal detention and the use of torture to extract false confessions. It is estimated that, during the Dirty War, some 30,000 people disappeared in Mexico.

In 1988, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which had ruled Mexico since the 1920s, won the presidential election amid allegations of electoral fraud. This provoked great outrage in Mexican society and led to an increase in protests and civil resistance. Despite the fact that the Dirty War in Mexico officially ended in the 1990s, human rights violations and impunity are still present.

Militarization in Mexico has also been influenced by pressure from the international oligarchy, such as the US-led “War on Drugs,” beginning in the 1970s. In 2006, then Mexican President Felipe Calderón launched a military offensive against the drug cartels, which continued under Enrique Peña Nieto (EPN) and now Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO). This was the pretext for the first two to govern in the face of growing popular discontent and led to the rejection by the working masses of the imposition of their position through electoral fraud and today with the latter to cleanse the decomposition of the bourgeois institutions and guarantee the continuity of State Monopoly Capitalism.

In essence, AMLO’s government has maintained the strategy of the financial oligarchy developed by Felipe Calderón and EPN with some nuances. AMLO initially presented himself with his policy of “Hugs, not bullets.” This was supposed to prevent crime and violence through social and economic programs that were meant to improve people’s living conditions, rather than simply increasing the use of force and repression. On the contrary, the National Guard has been created, a security force made up mostly of the military and federal police, which is responsible for public security throughout the country. It fulfilled its class role by contributing to the development of the process of fascistization, which consists of the use of open or covert violence by the army, to prevent or eliminate by action of rejection the mobilization of the people to the policies of the financial oligarchy. This leaves the paramilitary or criminal organizations, which are also the executive arm of the ruling class, active and with force.

The militarization of Mexico through the creation of the National Guard shows their fear of popular self-defense, popular militias or community police, any popular formation that arises out of the control of the State. These organizations seek to preserve life and defend the natural resources from the ongoing and long-term megaprojects. The latter, of course, seek to eliminate the process of democratization and revolutionary change in the country, as a violation of the fundamental human rights of the population. This is the solution imposed by the oligarchy and imperialism to preserve and secure their interests, under the economic and political conditions of the general crisis of capitalism and of recurrent cyclical crises. These are increasingly acute amid the growing struggle of the proletarians. As history has shown, social democracy serves capitalism and fascism, and the regime of the so-called Fourth Transformation is no exception.

The militarization of public security in Mexico has serious consequences for the population. Militarization leads to an increase in institutional and non-institutional violence (of the paramilitaries with whom there are no agreements under which they operate); in fact it creates a state of exception and of undeclared siege. It justifies itself through public security and the political “fight against crime” that follows the designs of US imperialism in its fight against drugs. This even gives them the power to intervene in our country under conditions that they determine. The presence of the armed forces in the streets creates fear and distrust among the population, and has led to human rights violations. On the other hand, its naturalization is worrying; together with corporatization, it can create conditions for the open rise of fascism pushed by the rightward shift of MORENA [AMLO’s party] or with the return of extreme right-wing positions as an alternative.

On the other hand, during the EPN government in Mexico, an Internal Security Law was proposed, which sought to regulate the participation of the Armed Forces in the public security of the country, providing a legal framework for their intervention in emergency situations. The same criticisms are now being made against the National Guard. The Internal Security Law was approved by the Congress of the Union in December 2017. However, the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation declared some articles of the law to be unconstitutional in November 2018, arguing that they violated human rights and the separation of powers. In February 2021, AMLO presented a bill to reform the National Security Law and create a new Internal Security Law that sought, in the same way as the law by EPN, to regulate the participation of the Armed Forces in public security and the fight against organized crime in the country. The only difference is that it was now intended to provide clarity and transparency as to how the military forces can be used in internal security situations, and to establish limits and controls to ensure respect for human rights.

In itself, militarization is part of the trend of the process of fascistization in the country, as can be seen by the increase in the military budget. In recent years, the Mexican government has allocated an increasing amount of resources to national security and the militarization of society (its participation in the construction of the Maya Train, the Dos Bocas Refinery, the administration of ports and airports, the customs administration, etc.). This year alone it has increased a little more than 20%, well above other basic sectors such as education or health care.

But not only that, there is also the rise of right-wing and ultra-right positions, and the constant violation of human rights. The disappearance of social leaders is also an alarming factor that has been taking place in Mexico in recent years. It is enough to recall the disappearance of the 43 students from Ayotzinapa, the massacre of Tlatlaya, as well as the assassination of journalists: Mexico is one of the most dangerous countries for journalists. Since 2000, more than 130 journalists have been killed in the country for political reasons by paramilitarism or also by so-called organized crime.

Finally, the continuation of neoliberal programs shows the tendency to fascistization. The focus on the free market and the privatization of public services in response to the crisis has created conditions leading to increased exploitation of the working class. This has necessitated the emergence of a more reactionary policy of the financial oligarchy to create fear and intimidate the organization of the masses.

Fascistic expressions have been found in Peru against Pedro Castillo; in Bolivia against Evo Morales; in Brazil against Lula and Dilma; in Paraguay against Fernando Lugo; and in Honduras against Manuel Zelaya, who were overthrown by “soft coups”; through openly violent actions by the use of the army, paramilitaries (organized crime) or Islamic State terrorists (Al Qaeda, etc.). These are the arms that carry out the policies of imperialism, as they do in Haiti, Burkina Faso, Tigray, etc.

We must not lose sight of the fact that fascism is the most open form of the power of finance capital itself; it is the organization of terrorist actions against the working class, with the sole objective of maintaining its survival. In the words of G. Dimitrov (1935):

“The accession to power of fascism is not an ordinary succession of one bourgeois government by another, but a substitution of one state form of class domination of the bourgeoisie – bourgeois democracy – by another form – open terrorist dictatorship…. Before the establishment of a fascist dictatorship, bourgeois governments usually pass through a number of preliminary stages and adopt a number of reactionary measures which directly facilitate the accession of fascism to power. Whoever does not fight the reactionary measures of the bourgeoisie and the growth of fascism is not in a position to prevent the victory of fascism, but, on the contrary, facilitates that victory.”

We communists have the duty to unmask the process of fascistization before the masses and call upon them to fight against the reactionary measures that seek to formalize and normalize it in the name of peace, thus revealing its class content.

Categories: International, Mexico

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