Reform and Revolution

Reform and Revolution


I have attached an article by Mr. Abraham Nuncio written in La Jornada, where he gives a brilliant summary of what happened in Mexico after the War of Independence:


 Never in the history of Mexico has there been a transformation of major significance without armed intervention and without a different constitution, except in the case of the reforms and measures of the government of Lázaro Cárdenas. As a result of the historic win of Andrés Manuel López Obrador and of MORENA, with the equally overwhelming participation of the citizens, it is worth asking if Mexico has entered a new era of profound transformations through peaceful means and within a predetermined institutional framework.


In the case of the independence fighters there was no doubt. They were facing a regime that had to be fought through armed struggle until it was removed from the country. The first book on the Mexican war of independence was written by Servando Teresa de Mier: Historia de la revolución de Nueva España [History of the New Spain Revolution]. The Regiomontan friar, like other insurgents, was assumed to be a revolutionary. With time it would be seen that the independence revolution was nothing more than the removal of the Spanish monarchy, and that inequality, concentration of wealth, poverty, exploitation and oppression of workers -especially indigenous workers- continued in the decades after independence. The accusation made by the reformers in that scenario was no different from the one expressed by Humboldt at the beginning of the 19th century.


In the course of independence, Morelos, who followed the teachings of Hidalgo, convened a congress which formulated the first Mexican constitution: the Constitutional Decree for the Freedom of Mexican America of 1814. Its duration was brief and it disappeared with the defeat of the insurgents by the viceregal government. But their relentless libertarian spirit became ingrained in the Mexicans and is even Bolivarian in nature, according to Gustavo Ernesto Emmerich in the chapters on nationality and representation (Las elecciones en México[Elections in Mexico] edited by Pablo González Casanova). It was with the 1824 Constitution that Mexico began its independent life based on its own republican institutions and liberal inspiration. It lasted only 12 years. The conservatives took power and the country was subject to their rules.


These were two tragic decades for the country. In addition to the plunder, indebtedness and military solutions, it had to undergo two wars against foreign enemies: one against the United States, through which, after their aggression, it lost half of the country, and another against the French empire, as well as the Caste War of Yucatán.Following these wars was the internecine war that liberals fought against the conservatives.


The military and legal victory of the reformers led by Juárezproduced a new regime with the Constitution of 1857.


Although that constitution incorporated the values ​​of equality and freedom, inequality, the concentration of wealth and poverty continued, but this time with liberal rhetoric, economic liberalism and republican clothing under the weight of a prolonged dictatorship.


The fight against the Porfiriato took several forms: the one taken by Madero, with his powerful booklet La sucesión presidencial en 1910[The Presidential Succession of 1910], that reduces democracy to the electoral fight; the most radical form taken by the Mexican Liberal Party, led by Flores Magón with its newspaper Regeneración [Regeneration], and Zapata’s claim (for land restoration) that would later be strengthened by Villa with peasant demands and brilliant military strategies. After the coup d’etat and Huerta’s usurpation of the presidency, another form emerged with the Carranza uprising – that of the rich landowners and ranchers, which would be the one that triumphed in the armed movement. But the Constituent Congress of 1916 resonated with the demands of the peasants, workers and a literate middle class, and they managed to include them – the so-called social rights – in the Constitution of 1917.


The sectors opposed to these rights (the Catholic Church, the big businessmen, the landowners) managed to delay their passage into law. The Federal Labor Law was not passed until 1931 and the Agrarian Code until 1933. They are, however, the prolegomena of Cardenismo. But the latter would place peasants and workers under the power of the Mexican state. And it is based on his work, which is often overlooked, that industry would be given a boost. Any force that does not stick to the regime is discouraged, proscribed and even repressed. The President of the Republic rules above all through simulated military orders.


After the interregnum of the 70s comes neoliberalism with its stream of dispossession, impoverishment and destitution. Mexico, after the inertial party that emerged from the reconfiguration of the armed struggle, would find itself in ruins.


This is the country that MORENA and López Obrador have inherited. Two centuries of frustrated hopes confront us. A new governing power has been instated. Can workers expect a new era of improvement? Yes, but on condition that they fight for it and do not wait for the next election cycle.