By: Carlos Aznárez and María Torrellas / Source: Resumen Latinoamericano / The Dawn News / October 8, 2016
This is the second of a two-part article. Read Part I here.
In the context of the International Seminar On the Crisis of Capitalism, held in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Resumen Latinoamericano interviewed Bishop Raúl Vera, a Mexican restless fighter who defends the rights of migrants and supports family-members in the search for their missing loved ones in these decades of state terrorism.
What’s your view on what happened with the Ayotzinapa students and the massacre of teachers in Oaxaca, which were to cases of State violence that became worldwide famous. Do you think there can truly be justice for this two inhumane cases?
I’m not going to share a personal opinion, but the verdict of a whole trial that the Permanent Court of the Peoples made against the Mexican state in this period that ranges from 1994 to the date of the Free Trade Treaty with the U.S. The political strategy of the Mexican government brings along terror and horror against the population, which is to say, we’re living under state terrorism. In the particular case of Ayotzinapa, which was a multiple disparition of young people perpetrated by the Mexican state, at the Municipal level, we only found out thanks to the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI) created organized the Inter American Commission on Human Rights to investigate what had happened with the Ayotzinapa students, with the authorization of the government. Their research was methodic —unlike the one carried out by the Attorney General’s Office of the Republic— and they concluded that not only had the Ayotzinapa Municipal Police acted the night of the disappearance of these students, but that they had had the collaboration of the Army, the Federal Police, and the local Police of two Municipalities: Iguala and Huitzuco.
The problem was a bus. The youth of this Ayotzinapa school always held an annual demonstration to commemorate the October 2 anniversary [the 1968 Massacre of Tlatelolco, when the Mexican Army murdered civilians, mostly students], so that day they sequestered several vehicles from the bus terminal of the city of Iguala. But the thing is, as the GIEI reported, that in one of this buses had a secret cargo of ingredients to cook heroin, which was supposed to be transported to Chicago, presumably by the corrupt police. So as soon as this bus left the terminal, along with the others, all these armed groups of the state began to move and began raining shots at these buses. One was almost completely destroyed. It’s irrefutable that the Iguala police took these kids.
The bus with the drug cargo was custodied by the police, nobody attacked it and they made the students get off, and they drove it away. Investigators, who knew about this, asked to see the bus and the driver, but the police tried to deceive them by providing them a different bus and a different driver.
Therefore, they couldn’t finish the investigation.
In the case of Oaxaca, with the teachers and civilians murdered, that is pure terrorism.
As a corollary of these acts of terror, another crime is to open the gates to transnational companies that plunder the resources and riches of the country.
The Permanent Court of the People says that this process of plundering and devastation of our country due to the Free Trade Treaty signed with the U.S. and Canada has been received with open arms by the Mexican establishment, they have modified laws and made structural reforms to give absolute freedom to these capitalists. They are kicking peasants out of territories to make eolic fields to make electric energy, and with the creation of dams for hydroelectric plants, they are leaving them without water. For example, here in the North they are extracting water from a river that is used to water plantations, and produce food. This is the state of Veracruz, which historically has produced the great majority of the food for the country. But now they want to divert the course of this river to make it go through two states: Tamaulipas and Nuevo León, to use it for fracking, to extract shale gas, which is abundant in the area known as Cuenca de Burgos. With big pipes they want to take the water there and leave the people without. And the same is true for the production of electrical power, which can now be privatized.
Then there’s the environmental devastation: one third of the Mexican territory is concessioned for mineral extraction. It’s being done all across the Republic, with open-pit mining, and they’re contaminating water and forests. They know how people are suffering.
What can you tell us about the teachers’ struggle?
We used to fund 40% of the public expenditure with what the country earned through oil exploitation, and now that amount of money vanished because private companies can take over oil exploitation and the profits go to the bank accounts of a family or a group of businessmen. Most of the foreign companies that come to take our oil don’t pay taxes here, so where’s the money for education going to come from? What the government proposes is to privatize education, they want to end with public education and they want to get rid of teachers with evaluation tests because they aren’t going to keep them all when they eliminate public education. The privatization of energy has this terrible consequence.
You mentioned an integral policy to control the population through terror. Please elaborate on this situation.
The political tactic of the government at this time is terror and horror, and everything that contributes to the instability of the country. It’s about organized crime. Mr. Calderón (the former President) made the deal with the Merida project to “end” with drug traffick. But Calderón never went after corrupt politicians nor money laundering, he only deployed soldiers everywhere under the pretext that he had to confront drug trafficking through the army, militarizing the country and tightening control over the population.
The terror and horror is created by the army, the federal police, the local police forces, the navy and drug trafficking. All of them are involved in this project to create horror, and that’s why Mexico’s crimes go unpunished. According to official data, there are 27,000 missing people in Mexico. Our Diocese has started to work against forced disappearances, because there are no official searches, and nobody has been found. They don’t look for this people because they want them to stay disappeared, to contribute to horror and terror.
The official number of missing people doesn’t match with the number quoted by some activists, which is even more monstrous, and is in the hundreds of thousands…
In private, the leader of the Human Rights Center told me, in private, that she estimated that, judging by the amount of clandestine graves that are being found all over the country, the number may be as high as 300 thousand. And, to make things worse, many families don’t even denounce the disappearance of one of its members because they are afraid that it might be dangerous for them. The demonization of the missing people is a weapon that the government has used so that nobody looks for them.
Tell us about the Constituent Assembly you promote, how can it help end this situation of terror and horror, and the plundering of the country?
In this search for a solution, our goal is to generate, through the process of creating a new Constitution, that the people’s consciousness about the situation in the country grows. We have lots of material in the Permanent Court of the Peoples to prove what’s going on. We have to create a process of education and dissemination of information for the people. There are many people that participated in the Court and they had a lot of wisdom about why things are the way they are.
Besides, there’s all the international agreements that Mexico signed, including the famous Agreement No. 169, which protects the work of indigenous peoples and was useful for the San Andrés Agreements in Chiapas. But the important thing, for me, is that the people are able to create their own legislation and contribute to the refoundation of the country, so that the people don’t have to endure this again.
Recently, in Brazil, I read an article by a renowned Portuguese sociologist called Boaventura Sousa Santos, where he wrote that the mistake of left-wing governments was that when they came to power they didn’t train the people politically, they didn’t create a new way of thought, but also that they didn’t pay enough attention to the Constitution. Boaventura de Sousa Santos said that to guarantee the stability of a movement so that it can resist the onslaught of the right, there must be two things: a reform of the Constitution and the dissemination of a new way of thinking about the right way to govern and guarantee the common good. And that’s what we want to do.