And yet it moves

By: Raúl Romero*

The study of social movements is important in that it indicates, among other things, some of the “great national problems” that concern and mobilize different social sectors. There are mobilizations and movements of the left and right; Identifying the differences between them does not imply greater complication than reviewing their background, the type of demands, the actors that compose them, the structure, the financing, the repertoire of protest and other elements that, put together, help to understand them. There are mobilizations that do not manage to become movements, that is, they fail to give themselves structure, objectives or strategic route. There are also movements that are the articulation of various movements, the movements of movements. And there is also what are called parties-movements, which, among other things, aspire to put the party structure at the service of social movements.

In the Mexico of today, there are different social movements that make us look at old problems that have become more acute and others that have been emerging. They are movements that honestly defend values and ideas identified as leftist, and that raise different causes. At another point it’s worth reviewing initiatives of openly right-wing groups, such as the National Front for the Family, or other initiatives that take up social flags, but that in reality seek to preserve and restore privileges of displaced elites.

In the analysis of these movements, we must set two moments that are important to understand their context. The first is on July 1, 2018, with the triumph of Andrés Manuel López Obrador as president. The second is the social and health emergency due to the pandemic and the effects it unleashed.

The triumph and arrival of AMLO to the Presidency of Mexico is a key moment, because it was the massive expression of rejection of previous governments taken to the polls. It was also a kind of synthesis of many demands from different sectors. In fact, social leaders joined that government and its party and distanced themselves from the social struggle. In a certain way, the discomfort and constant and rising social mobilization were channeled by the Obradorismo, a political expression that placed its agenda and objectives in other movements. But this did not mean the incorporation of all the movements into the ruling bloc, nor that those who joined that strategic moment of 2018 bet entirely on the promised project.

2018 is also key because it led different organizations and collectives to pause in their mobilization process, to distance themselves or confront actors of the movement or within other movements, mainly by putting party and state interests before the causes and dynamics of popular organizations. There were even those who reoriented their goals: in the dispute over budgets, resources, positions in the party or in government structures, there are those who began to support policies and projects that they previously opposed. With the early federal and state elections, these dynamics deepen under the argument of the continuity of the project. A detailed analysis of the above, as well as the variations that may occur, are important to know what led us to the current moment. In any case, what needs to be highlighted is the demobilization process that came with the arrival of the new government in 2018.

The social and health emergency due to the covid-19 pandemic, as well as the policies of confinement and distancing, are another moment in which social dynamics were broken and modified that had an impact on organizational processes. In Mexico, the process of independent political rearticulation from below was truncated. For example, many villages and communities had few possibilities to respond articulately to the construction of the megaprojects that continued during this stage. New forms of solidarity and actors emerged in the most difficult days of confinement, collectives that organized to distribute food and pantries among the most impoverished sectors, boost local and family economies, and even solidarity networks to locate hospitals and oxygen distribution centers.

Surviving the pandemic, surviving as independent organizations and also surviving the criminal violence that we experience in the country have been some of the challenges that independent social organizations have endured in the last four years. But it seems that this is about to reach its end. While different collectivities have not stopped organizing and struggling, they have begun to reunite, to re-articulate. They are movements of disappeared, of Native peoples, of young people and students, of professors, of women, union organizations and of a very wide reach. They are movements that respond to problems of their own sector, but that have had a meeting point in recent days: the struggle against militarization and for justice.

* Sociologist (@RaulRomero_mx)

Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada, Monday, October 17, 2022, https://www.jornada.com.mx/2022/10/17/opinion/016a2pol and Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

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