New left-wing party forms in Mexico

MEXICO CITY – A new left-wing party led by former presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador will soon appear on the ballot in Mexico. The Movement for National Regeneration (MORENA) is transforming itself into a political party and has already met federal requirements to obtain its electoral registration.

Formed last year by Lopez Obrador and other former members of the center-left Democratic Revolution Party (PRD), MORENA later in the year decided to become a political party that would contest the 2015 elections. The organization has so far exceeded requirements demanded by electoral authorities, holding 25 state assemblies with 3,000 people when only 20 are required, and signing up 500,000 members, when only 250,000 are needed. Seven more state assemblies will be held shortly.

MORENA wants to build a broad front of workers, farmers and small and medium-sized business people who will fight to reverse the neoliberal reforms implemented by right-wing National Action Party (PAN) and Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) governments since the 1980s. The organization, a broad coalition that includes communists, advocates, among other things, getting rid of NAFTA and the energy reform bill passed in December 2012 that will require Mexico to share oil profits with foreign oil companies and reduce government revenues. MORENA argues that neoliberal measures have destroyed agriculture and national industry and impoverished the nation. The organization wants to rebuild the economy and increase social spending to combat poverty.

PAN and PRI governments have returned Mexico to the days of 19th century dictator Porfirio Diaz when the lands were in few hands and water, railroads, mines, oil, and the electrical industry were privatized, resulting in a revolution in 1910, Lopez Obrador charged at a recent rally in Sonara. “We have to hurry to remove the PRIAN (PRI and PAN) from government,” he said. “it is necessary to defeat the PRIAN, as happened with Porfirio Diaz, but now it is necessary to do it without violence or confrontation.”

Lopez Obrador, who was the PRD candidate for president and received 17 million votes in the July 2012 elections, has built a huge base of support among the poor. As governor of the Federal District – the large metropolitan state that includes Mexico City – from 2000 to 2006, he introduced a broad range of social programs to help the poor as well as measures to fight corruption and crime.

Already, PRD senators and former Federal District Gov. Marcelo Ebrard have made overtures to MORENA for an electoral alliance. The appearance of MORENA on the ballot in the 2015 elections risks fragmenting the left vote. Three current registered parties claim to be parties of the left or center left: the PRD, Labor Party (PT) and, curiously, the ruling PRI.

Lopez Obrador and others left the PRD in 2012 to form MORENA because of the PRD s shift to the right. After losing the July 2012 elections to the PRI, which won through a massive vote-buying scheme and ballot-box rigging, the PRD leadership entered into a national alliance with the PRI and PAN called “the Pact for Mexico.” The PRI, under current President Enrique Pena Nieto, set up the Pact for Mexico to gain support from the PRD and PAN for its legislative initiatives. The PRD left the pact last November as a result of the energy legislation championed by the PRI and PAN to open the oil sector to foreign companies. Lopez Obrador alleged that the PRD leadership, by joining the Pact for Mexico, opened the door for the PRI and PAN to undertake right-wing structural changes such as the recent energy reforms. He also accused the PRD of helping to approve the energy reform bill.

The PRD and the Labor Party have formed electoral coalitions with the PAN in different state elections.

In the Federal District, where the PRD still governs, the party has also shifted to the right. Gov. Miguel Angel Mancera, who replaced Marcelo Ebrard last year, sent in police to brutally break up trade union demonstrations several times last year. On Jan. 5 this year, Mancera sent police to remove a group of protesting teachers who had set up a camp around the Monument for the Revolution in downtown Mexico City. The governor is currently championing legislation to restrict demonstrations in the district.

Mancera has also doubled Metro fees from 3 to 5 pesos to raise new funds to carry out needed maintenance work. MORENA charges that the increase will hurt the poorest segments of the population, and is organizing against the increase.

Photo: Andres Lopez Obrador at a MORENA rally in defense of Mexico’s nationalized oil and opposing the energy “reform” bill, Sept. 23, 2013, in Mexico City. Wikimedia Commons