Individualized support: counterinsurgency or social containment?

By: Peter Rosset*

The Mexican countryside is full of struggles and alternative projects. It has a long history of agrarian struggle, territorial defense, appropriation of productive processes and commercialization through peasant cooperatives and other forms of ejidal companies and social enterprise.

There is a rich community and organizational fabric, and many collective constructions of alternatives to the dominant capitalist model. It is regrettable that for AMLO and the 4T all this is reduced to the embezzlement of peasant organizations and their corrupt leaders. It is painting everyone with the same brush.

We can divide the peasant organizations into two broad categories: on the one hand, there are the Zapatistas and a significant part of the CNI and the indigenous movement, whose strategy goes back to the construction of autonomies. The Zapatistas, for more than two decades have rejected all government programs, because they think that resources corrupt and vitiate organizations, leaders and communities, and make people move only when there are money, dispensations, projects, candidacies, and positions at stake. The result is the demobilization and permanence of poverty. They say that a “new way of doing politics” is necessary, without the intermediation of money and other resources. That’s why they do not accept programs that qualify as “alms.”

On the other hand there is a wide range of organizations in dispute over public resources that demand “a budget for the agricultural sector”. They consider that because they are citizens and taxpayers they have the right to their fair share of State resources. They seek to strengthen the organizational, territorial, productive and marketing processes with investments and credits from the public sector. The relative historical success of the peasant-indigenous coffee sector is proof of this.

Within this category there are the good, the bad and the ugly.

However, the President effectively disqualifies all as corrupt. The policy of the 4T is based on this disqualification that AMLO does. The head of the Executive has promised “no más moche” (no more bribes) for the peasant organizations; that not a penny will go through the organizations; everything will be direct to families. In other words, only individual aid deposited in Banco Azteca plastic cards ( Considering them incapable of building their own processes, this takes away the agency of organizations and peoples.

Now they will be poor in need of alms. It is a policy promoted by the World Bank for at least two decades, with two purposes: to reduce intermediary expenses and possible sources of corruption, and achieve greater social containment in the face of structural changes in favor of capital: land grabbing, mining, plantations, hydro and thermoelectric dams, etcetera.

Social containment, because the direct transfer of money demobilizes people. Who would go to a meeting of the organization if they have money in their pocket? This is a policy of organizational breakdown. (

A breakdown directed at the two types of organizations. Against Zapatismo and the autonomies because, according to them, money is the hook to “take away bases” from the autonomic movements. It’s an old counterinsurgency tactic. And it goes against cooperatives, social enterprises, alternative projects of other types of organizations. It will be the coup de grace for many organizational spaces in the communities and territories.

Calculated as a measure of social containment, because only with good organizational fabric would they be able to defend their territories from the “megaprojects of death,” such as the Trans-Isthmus Corridor, the Maya Train, the hydroelectric and thermoelectric plants, the mining concessions and other mechanisms of dispossession.

*Doctorate from the University of Michigan. Agro-ecology specialist


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

One Comment on “Individualized support: counterinsurgency or social containment?

  1. Pingback: Zapatista News & Analysis | Blog of Zapatista Support Group Wellington, Aotearoa/New Zealand

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