Some Context: This is a piece I wrote on the presidential inauguration of PRI candidate Enrique Peña Nieto in December 1, 2012. This reflection was a product of the political youth attitudes of that year, which were particularly agitated and mobilized as a result of the #YoSoy132 student movement (in which I participated in and researched from May to December of that year). The mood was tense and students were disenchanted and exhausted; #YoSoy132 was unable to prevent the conception of a premeditated political plan to bring the historically corrupt PRI to power. Due to the more recent examples of protests, particularly in Mexico City, against the new telecommunications law, I was able to dig this up and thus reflect on the patterns of repression of social protest in Mexico since EPN’s inauguration in 2012:
As I write it is December 1st, the first official day of Enrique Peña Nieto’s political reign over Mexico. Today, I saw the signs of times to come cloud over Mexico City. Instead of the usual orderly but maintained chaos of downtown Mexico City, I observed people walk the glass-shattered streets contemplative, anxious, sin rumbo.
Today I took the metro from my apartment in the south of the city up to the Centro Histórico. I was hoping to catch up to the protesters who were marching in rechazo, repudiation, of the legitimacy of Enrique Peña Nieto, who was inaugurated at midnight on December 1st. As they marched toward east to El Zócalo from el Angel de Independencia, they were met with hundreds and hundreds of grenadiers, heavily protected police force armed with shields and equipped with tear gas. The grenadiers had been mobilized to prevent the march, in which families, students and children had participated in, from reaching el Zócalo, which sits situated right under the vigilance of the government palace. I didn’t see the confrontation unfold but when I arrived to El Centro and got off at the Bellas Artes metro stop, I saw glass-shattered avenues, overturned barricades and graffitied walls. Huge groups of spectators looked onto the groups of grenadiers, positioned defensively with their shields forming a barricade against potential agitators.
As I stood with the crowd, I was overcome with the shared sense of anxiety, discomfort, and outrage. Standing there I observed how the protestors, now scattered among the crowd and around the perimeter of Bellas Artes, continued to confront the police with an armament of rocks, sticks, and shouts. I observed how a group of around thirty people scattered for rocks and proceeded to throw in unison and succeed in pushing back the police force a couple of yards. The protestors shouted to the police forces, “Who are you protecting?” “You’re protecting asesinos!” “You should be protecting us!”
I thought to myself, whom are they protecting? Enrique Peña Nieto is the young face of the PRI, a party that, if as children of the Mexican diaspora we inquire to anyone of our parents or grandparents, will admit has a notorious, violent, and repressive political track record. It was under PRI’s 71 yearlong governance that the Mexican government repressed and ordered the assassination of hundreds of student protestors in the Plaza de Tlatelolco in 1968, in one of largest massacres in Latin America of the last century. It was under PRI governance that students were again repressed in El Halconzao in 1971. It was under PRI governance that Mexican society became desensitized to political corruption and repression of social protest.
In 2006, in San Salvador Atenco in the state of Mexico, protestors and community members were severely repressed by federal and state police. What began as resistance from flower vendors against displacement from their areas of work, escalated into a confrontation between the police and the community. This battle, waged by the police with clubs and malevolence, ended with more than two hundred deaths and arbitrary arrests and the rape of more than two-dozen women. Under the governance of Enrique Peña Nieto, violence against women, repression of social protest and political corruption skyrocketed in the state of Mexico.
This is the government that was democratically elected the first of July of this year? The #YoSoy132 movement organized in May of this year was a direct response to the political and societal implications of the return of the PRI, especially with Enrique Peña Nieto as candidate. #YoSoy132 tried with vigor and creativity to dissuade the Mexican public from supporting the PRI, but through an elaborate election fraud scheme of vote buying, political corruption and media manipulation, Enrique Peña Nieto also known as el copetón, was elected into office.
Now, what awaits Mexico? It’s a vicious cycle. A cycle of outrage, disenchantment, violence, and resistance. A cycle that has repeated again and again in Mexico, sexenio after sexenio. In a recent Skype conversation with my father, he explained to me that it was now my turn to learn and live in carne propia the mechanics of political and social manipulation of the PRI, lived experiences he and so many other Mexicans from past generations know very well.