Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Consequence of Mexico - Part I

Today we can speak of Latin America as the most explosively Revolutionary region in the world. In the last decade and even more so in the last few years, its people have demonstrated tremendous revolutionary organization, energy, and maturity. This great potential has generated exemplary international leadership and has united youth, and indigenous social movements throughout the world. In the final showdown between Capitalism/Imperialism and Revolutionary Internationalism, some refer to this final struggle as the Fourth World War, positioning through geographical victories, politically or militarily, will have a vital impact on the outcome. Therefore, in order to be methodical with our assets and to properly evaluate our objectives, we must spend considerable attention on Mexico which will be an immensely critical piece of the international puzzle. It is quite probable that Latin America will be the first continent to completely liberate itself from the yoke of imperialism, and a successful socialist revolution in Mexico would help accelerate that process.

At the same time, it is a daring outlook to risk miscalculating the Imperialists in their own hemisphere. With the reactionary, neoliberal PAN (National Action Party) in power in Mexico, U.S. Imperialism is well placed to exert geographic, economic, and political control over Latin America. The friendly and subservient government of Felipe Calderon in the second biggest country in Latin America, the one that seperates the north from the south, is the U.S.' most crucial gamepiece and lifeline to the continent.

Still, we cannot overlook or underestimate how profoundly a Mexican Revolution would resonate in the conscience of the working class, and Black and Latin American populations of the United-States. Fidel Castro refers to these groups as the "Third World of the United-States", to which is added social marginality on top of racial discrimination. The tide of resistance radiating from the Rio Grande, from destitute border cities such as Matamoros, Ciudad Juarez, and Tijuana, some of Mexico's worst victims of crime and poverty, could quickly set ablaze the south of the United-States, where Blacks and namely Latinos are concentrated.

The subjectively ripe and mature south of revolutionary Mexico would also have a huge impact on Central America. The objective conditions in Guatemala are extremely acute and have been very thick for decades. The country is swollen with a multitude of ugly coagulated problems, and along with El Salvador and Mexico is the country in Central America which most closely resembles Colombia. Decades of neo-colonialism and brutal right-wing dictators have created these conditions of severe poverty and rampant organized crime. The people of Guatemala are looking for a way out; they will find it through a struggle which will be a very bloody and difficult one full of sacrifices, and help will come via the popular resistance of Southern Mexico. In El Salvador political freedoms are also very hard to come by, as the ruling class ARENA party has established laws against "terrorism" to implement the criminalization of protest. But the left is very militant and very well organized in El Salvador under the FMLN (Frente Farabundo Marti de Liberacion Nacional), and the weakening of U.S. grip and support with the national oligarchy could free up the necessary breathing space for the popular struggle to move ahead. With Guatemala and El Salvador rising along with Mexico, the reactionary forces in the rest of Central America would not be able to contest the human groundswell surging through the isthmus.

Mexico's Revolution, and the Internal Challenges

Mexico boasts some strong unions, namely the SNTE (National Teacher's Union), and has generated two social movements to be taken seriously in the past decade or so; the Zapatistas in Chiapas, and the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO). APPO took fire in 2006 when an initial teacher's strike turned into a full-blown attempt at ousting the PRI's (Institutional Revolutionary Party) Ulises Ruiz, the governor who continues to push a 70 year old oppressive dictatorship in the state of Oaxaca. Although the initial spark is over and APPO was contained with brutal and violent repression, it is still a young movement which remains active and full of potential, and they should not be discounted or underestimated. They will be keynote contributors to Mexico's Revolutionary future, if not leaders.

For their part the Zapatistas and their armed body the EZLN (Ejercito Zapatista de Liberacion Nacional) have been quiet as of late, the army itself has not conducted any military operations apparently since 1994. In 2001 a convoy of EZLN leaders entered Mexico City to demand the approval of an Indigenous law. They were greeted by hundreds of thousands of supporters, but despite access to the frenzied mass, Marcos was unable to create much. During 2006 and the beginning of 2007 Subcomandante Marcos, the leader of the Zapatistas, toured Mexico as part of an alternate non-electoral campaign, "La Otra", to rival the presidential elections, seeking solidarity with activist intellectuals, social movements, and the media in order to pressure for the writing of a new constitution. This effort also failed to bear tangible results for the moment, although Marcos and his entourage did manage to visit at least seventeen states. It is reported that on at least one occasion, Marcos has had the opportunity to give speeches in front of huge crowds but has not seized the moment. Some of the Zapatista leaders have gone into hiding for the time being, in response to increased threats from paramilitaries.

Although these movements have been impressive at times, they have not yet been constant, and they have been concentrated in relatively small areas in such an immense country like Mexico, where organization is more difficult over such vast territory and so many differrent states. But the main reason for the slow revolutionary progress nationally in Mexico is the question of effective Revolutionary leadership, or lack thereof. In an economically, culturally, and politically heterogeneous country like Mexico, no one has yet to carry through the full scope of the unifying role, but the APPO has put forward a model which could serve the rest of Latin America, if not the world. Mexico is the Queen-piece in the chess game to checkmate Neo-Colonialism in Latin America, and so it needs to be one of the leading protagonists internationally in the Social Justice/Anti-Imperialist movement in the next decade and beyond.

We call for International Solidarity with the APPO, the Zapatistas, and all Revolutionary Forces in Mexico!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

El Medico Del Siglo 21

On Monday February 4th 2008, Nabeel Yar Khan left Canada as the first student ever to go study medicine in Cuba at ELAM (Latin American School of Medicine). Each year Cuba trains thousands of doctors, hundreds among those students from the poorest, most remote, most neglected areas of countries all over the world. Cuba's internationalist mission in healthcare is a program which offers scholarships to poor students to study medicine on the island, with the intention for them to return to practice in their home communities in need, or wherever they may be needed througout the world. In the most dire situations all across the globe, Cuba also sends medical teams, always first on the scene, to secure those who are abandoned by the international community.

Worldwide Cuba has over 30,000 doctors providing free medical care to more than 60 countries, they have been praised, loved, and appreciated by thousands accross the world for their unconditional, selfless sacrifices. To illustrate a few examples, they have been greatly complimented by Pakistanis for their efforts and refered to as having the "souls of angels". They work often in the most difficult conditions, with language barriers, and are dispatched to relieve the most horrific natural disasters. While they were working in Haiti, the country's president Rene Preval said, in expressing appreciation for their contributions, that the "Cuban doctors are second only to God." Fidel Castro sees their contributions as a crucial message of human solidarity, and says that the international teams set examples for "this humanity which will someday be truly humane."

Cuba's medical efforts in Canada were initially intended to reach out to the aboriginal community, to offer opportunities to students from these often overlooked communities, and for them to have the ability to give back to their communities upon returning. However, one particular comrade insisted on being an exception to the rule. Last year, Nabeel now a Canadian who's parents originated from India, participated in an exchange program which gave him the opportunity to travel to Cuba. While he was there he did volunteer work in a community clinic, an experience which opened his eyes two the exceptional realities of the Cuban healthcare system. He later wrote: "What I learned was that Cuba utilizes a system of preventive medicine, which Canada does not utilize. I believe Cuba could be a model for the Canadian health care system...I believe that this system is not only a model for Canada but the World entirely." After his experience, Nabeel was determined to become an internationalist doctor, and began taking the necessary steps to go study at ELAM.

Nabeel who is also involved in Cuba solidarity work in Canada, draws inspiration from Ernesto Che Guevara. In a letter sent to Fidel Castro, Nabeel wrote that "Ernesto’s characteristics have placed an imprint on me...I want to portray Ernesto by also fighting, not with arms, but with medicine, to help people around the world who are in desperate need." After his six year committment in Cuba, this young revolutionary has said that his "primary goal is to become a doctor, not to migrate back to Canada and practice, because it is a country that has substantial aid, but to take the education, skills, and capabilities to help the less developed and war-torn countries in this world." Nabeel is a pioneer who has made the valiant and selfless decision to offer the medical expertise he will learn for the well-being and prosperity of all the world's children; he is an inspiration and example to future Canadian students who aspire to study medicine. So in the spirit of Che Guevara, an exemplary human being who was also a doctor, we do justice to this cause by recalling some of his insight. In August of 1960 while giving a speech to Cuban medical students and health workers, in refering to the road taken by revolutionary doctors, Che said that "nobody can point out that stretch; that stretch is the personal road of each individual; it is what he will do everyday, what he will gain from his individual experience, and what he will give of himself in practising his profession, dedicated to the people's well-being."

Julien Lalonde for
Toronto Forum on Cuba.