Bolivarian and Alter-Globalist Youth Groups in Mexico’s PRD
By Raúl Tortolero
Mexico City, 18 January 2006 | Today, a considerable number of young members of the PRD [Party of the Democratic Revolution] have characteristics that are very distinct from those of the ex-members of the PRI [Institutional Revolutionary Party - in power for decades until recently], founders of that party. The new generations lean toward an “alter-globalist” ideology. Going much beyond the traditional closed "nationalism," they have a global vision of social struggle, equality, economics and culture, and they do not rule out radicalism in their battles.
Many of these youngsters, perhaps the majority, share with their peers throughout the world a democratic social ideology. The youth of the PRD are officially affiliated with the International Union of Socialist Youth (IUSY), that is to say, the young people’s branch of the International Socialist, to which the PRD belongs along with parties of the moderate Left throughout the world. Verónica Román —of the Nuevo Sol [New Sun] current— the "Amalios" [former communists and followers of Amalia García] —is even vice president of the IUSY. Also, Sol Azteca [Aztec Sun] members younger than 35, are integrated into the young people's version of the São Paulo Forum. Likewise, now there are affiliates or sympathizers of the PRD whose profile and strategies find their inspiration in Fidel Castro and Hugo Chávez —two Latin American leaders of the hardcore left whose fame is now making a comeback thanks to the reestablishment of governments of that tendency in the Hispanic world. And their main ideological rallying point is Simón Bolívar’s banner of Latin American unity, albeit in an updated version.
The young Sol Azteca federal legislator Beatriz Mojica expresses it in these words: "We, the new PRD members, have several characteristics that define us. We are no longer just ex-members of the PRI. We are a generation that has a vision of government which is being prepared in order to govern and not to be an opposition.” She continues: “We have an international vision. It is understood that we are in the age of globalization, the age of email, digital TV, cellular telephones, in the age of telecommunications. We understand that process and be that as it may we consider the Left capable of offering ideas to the people, because not everything is contained within one's own country; there are ideological and programmatic issues that embrace all of us.”
Mojica, who has studied in France, was a PRD representative before the IUSY in Spain, Greece and Panama between 2002 and 2004. She says that in the latter country there was a discussion of the development of sustainable economies, with a conclusion that the parties of the left that are to govern ought to guarantee sustainable economic growth in conjunction with ecologic welfare. The representative from the state of Guerrero admits that in the rank and file of the PRD youth there are links to groups from "Solidarity with Cuba," “Bolivarian Circles,” Zapatistas, Guevaristas and Castristas.
A young 26-year-old PRD member, the federal legislator for the PRD from the state of Quintana Roo, Emiliano Vladimir Ramos Hernández, exemplifies to perfection the new profile of the PRD militant. He is a symbol of this innovative approach to ideology and action. The ties among PRD sectors —starting with the PRD youth— and the president of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, the most explicit exponent of Bolivarianism in the world and belligerently anti-United States —find a key link in Ramos. The representative from the state of Quintana Roo stands out as a young leader and was a student leader at the Colegio de Bachilleres Plantel Cancún I, from 1997 to 1998. And, of more relevance, he is "state founder and coordinator of ’youth of the left,’ a youth association consisting of PRD militants and sympathizers, starting in 2001, and Undersecretary for Youth Affairs, of the CEN [National Executive Committee] of that party, from January of 2003 until the present date." The Secretary for Youth Affairs is Cyntia Masa, who is overshadowed by Ramos' high profile.
Another alter-globalist personality enrolled in the PRD Youth Affairs is Christian Sánchez Jáuregui. This young man, acting in the capacity of "PRD representative,” attended the “Youth Gathering in Solidarity with Cuba,” in Guadalajara in 2002, in the presence of revolutionary commandants from the island and youth committees from PPS, FEU, PT, FEG and the Revolutionary Youth Front, among other organizations. We tried to interview him mid-December, at the National Executive Committee of the PRD, but —confirming our thesis— he had gone to Hong Kong to protest at the alter-globalist demonstrations against the WTO.
Evidently, Sánchez Jáuregui is a key link among youth groups of the Mexican Left. In a Notimex news item of 3 November 2005 the following is set forth: “The young people of the PRD made up the Youth of the Left association, meant to be taken into account by PRD pre-candidate to the Presidency of the Republic, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, in an internal debate. (…) At the event, Christian Sánchez Jáuregui, accompanied by young Sol Azteca leaders from various states of the Republic, stated that the intention of that project is to include young people in the debate over proposals for the new government.”
The article gives an account of the importance and extent of the Emiliano Ramos and Sánchez Jáuregui organization, but furthermore, their link to students throughout the entire country: “Sánchez reported that currently the Youth of the Left Association A.C. is present in 23 states of the Republic and for the time being consists of more than 200 student leaders who participate in various organizations in all the political parties throughout the country.”
Finally we find Christian Sánchez. He assures that the Youth of the Left have more than three thousand active members in 22 states and that they are all members of the PRD or sympathizers. And he defines his party's new generations as not being "former members of the PRI, and that means they are not corrupt, nor do they practice nepotism, with an internationalist vision, based on a globalized world.” He adds that its personality is "more one of being enterprising individuals, innovators, utopians, idealists, but also nationalists and responsible people and we aim to be professionals in politics."
Thus, radical ideas rejecting imperialism, confrontation with WTO policies and bodies such as the IMF and the World Bank, as well as the affinity with Cuba and Venezuela, and Chávez’s Bolivarianism, are shared in Mexico through the Youth of the Left, led by Ramos and Sánchez. Emiliano Ramos, with many young people from his party and from the left in general, furthermore sympathizes with the Fidel Castro regime. He gets his ideological affinity from his family and has held it since his childhood: he went to Cuba, at age 12, to the World Youth Meeting.
He has also demonstrated a certain proclivity toward Hugo Chávez. The legislative representative rose to fame when, once differences between Fox and Chávez aroused last November, the representative from Quintana Roo chose to raise his hand in support of the person [Chávez] who called the Mexican president "a lapdog of the imperialists." Leonel Cota, national leader of the Sol Azteca, went so far as to dissociate the PRD from that support given to the Bolivarian military man [Chávez], which goes to prove the distance there is between the yellow and black party [the PRD] and the new youth groups. Yet Ramos did not have his registration in the party rolls cancelled. But the “Bolivarianism” of legislator Ramos at the time was not limited to marching with Chávez on that November 20th. On the following day he was guest of honor at the military man's [Chávez’s] televised program called “Hello President,” where Chávez challenged Fox with his celebrated “don't mess with me, because you'll end up pricked [with cactus needles]."
THE CHAVISTA PRD MOVEMENT
The convictions of the PRD youth find a “Bolivarian” profile whenever they agree, as is the case with Emiliano Ramos, one of their partisan leaders, to be in favor of ALBA [trade agreement between Cuba and Venezuela meant as a countervailing measure against the Bush-sponsored ALCA-FTAA (Free Trade of the Americas)], because this agreement, says the legislator, "Respects the asymmetries of the different economies and basic grains and their cultivation are protected; there is a quest toward sovereignty over the food supply and competitive micro-enterprises.”
But, most of all, they agree in their rejection of ALCA-FTAA. "It goes against the agricultural sector, against sovereignty over the food supply; it promotes the denationalization of the economy, and the worst of competitive conditions," he comments in an interview. And two: because they are in favor of “integration and solidarity” with the Latin American peoples, under terms proposed by the Venezuelan president.
These currents within the PRD admire the governments of Cuba and Venezuela, whom they take as an example to be followed in different categories. They dream and promote for Mexico a Cuban or Venezuelan type of socialism. On the most recent of his visits to Venezuela, legislator Ramos was of the opinion, according to Notimex, that: "Venezuela, together with Cuba, is an example of the fact that another world is possible. They are an example of how the Left can govern.”
“ALTERNATIVE PROJECTS OF NATIONHOOD, THE INTERNATIONAL EXPERIENCE”
Emiliano Ramos admits having met with former ambassador Vladimir Villegas on different occasions at the Venezuelan embassy or at his private residence. In fact, Emiliano organized the last public event in Mexico attended by Villegas, together with the Cuban ambassador, Jorge Bolaños. Held on Thursday, 3 November 2005, the event was called "Progressive Education in Latin America.” And printed in the informational dossier in large letters there was a revealing subtitle: “Alternative Projects of Nationhood, the International Experience," which paraphrases the book written by López Obrador, "An Alternative Project of Nationhood," whose postulates serve as a basis for his presidential campaign. This suggests that some of the candidate's topics might be based on the experiences of the Venezuelan and Cuban governments. This relation is accentuated because in the official invitation to the educational forum the following icons were printed: the logo of the PRD parliamentary group, the logo of the "Youth of the Left," founded and presided over by Ramos, the Venezuelan flag, the Cuban flag, and the logo of the [Mexican] Chamber of Deputies.
At the forum, legislator Ramos approached the subject of education in Latin America, making comparisons among the pedagogic projects in Cuba, Venezuela and Mexico. Likewise, he detailed the shortcomings of our [Mexican] system with respect to its foreign counterparts. For example, many more women receive education in those countries compared to ours. For Emiliano Vladimir the conclusion was that the educational platforms in those countries are in better shape than those of Mexico. "In Venezuela they are eliminating illiteracy, they create educational brigades, from which I believe something can be learned," he stressed in an interview. Emiliano symbolizes the case of the new youth of the PRD, who wish to take up programs —such as educational programs for mass literacy, or for affordable dwellings— from Cuba or Venezuela, in order to apply them in Mexico, launched from the PRD electoral platform by López Obrador. For them, departing from relevant institutional positions with the PRD, the solutions to poverty and lack of development are not something that can be solved only in national terms. It has to do with a global and international struggle, in which the unity of Latin peoples plays a decisive role opposite economic oppression by the United States. That is why Ramos stresses his own participation in events that concern the economies of many nations in his official Congressional curricular card: Federal legislator for Quintana Roo since 27 April 2005, previously he had been the alternate for legislator Rogelio Franco —who left to become PRD state president in Veracruz—, under the heading "working experience,” he stresses that he was "a participant in the alternative forums at the Meetings of the World Economic Forum held in Cancún, Quintana Roo, 2001 and 2003,” and “a participant in the second Meeting for the Fight Against ALCA [FTAA], held in Havana, Cuba, December 2002.”
Furthermore, he recognizes himself as being a “Member of the DIVERSA National Political Group,” once sponsored by Senator Enrique Jackson: according to what is described by LA JORNADA on 1 November 2002 in its “Dinero” [Money] column, by Enrique Galván Ochoa, the IFE took action against DIVERSA “for having received a ‘cooperation’ of 250 thousand pesos which was deposited in its account (that of its leader in 2002, Patricia Mercado) by means of a check issued by the Chamber of Senators, under instructions of PRI Senator Enrique Jackson.”
PRD, PROMOTERS OF THE “AXIS OF THE LEFT”
"Progressive Education in Latin America” was not the first event organized by Youth of the Left where the links among the PRD, Venezuela and Cuba were made explicit and where there was an emphasis made upon the integration of an “axis” among the different Latin American Lefts.
On 26 February 2004 at the Journalists’ Club (Filomeno Mata 8, Historical Center) a “Conference on Latin American Unity” was held in which there was participation by Martí Batres Guadarrama, Undersecretary for the Government of the DF (Federal District), Lino Martínez Salazar, Venezuelan ambassador (later withdrawn from the country for having supported the López Obrador campaign) and Eladio Iglesias, First Secretary of the Cuban Embassy.
The invitation, signed by "Youth of the Left” and Hugo Enrique Ramírez, and published in national newspapers expounded the will to motivate the shaping of an international Axis of the Left, the same one we have heard President Hugo Chávez promote a few weeks ago: “The fight against the United States' policy of expansion into the continent, one whose major expression is ALCA [FTAA], has succeeded in bringing together a Latin American axis of unity in order to defend national sovereignties. For that reason we extend an invitation to the Conference on Latin American Unity and the Consolidation of Governments of the Left.”
The Bolivarian PRD movement in the public schools manifests itself unabashedly in very diverse ways. And not only is it Bolivarian, but also sympathetic, most of all, to narco-guerrillas such as the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC). Training and activism by “collectives” of Bolivarian inspiration in many campuses of the UNAM [Autonomous National University of Mexico], at the preparatory or bachelor’s level as well as that for professional degrees and postgraduate programs are nothing out of the ordinary. One merely needs to take stroll through the School of Philosophy of the UNAM, at Ciudad Universitaria, in order to observe the cubicle taken over by some youngsters from the “Simón Bolívar” collective, right in front of the entrance to the Samuel Ramos Library of that school and to the left of the video and game library named after Víctor Jara [singer and folk hero of the Chilean Left]. The front door to the cubicle is covered by a mural with a torso of the South American hero [Bolívar] and another mural, further up on the front wall, displays a Venezuelan flag beheld by Bolivar’s gaze.
The youths who gather there define themselves as being “of the Left,” some of whom identify themselves as belonging to the PRD, the vast majority. All of them, even those having the most critical positions, assure that they are going to vote for Andrés Manuel López Obrador. One of them —who requests that his name not be made public— judges: "no way will I vote for that gangster Madrazo [PRI] or for that pro-Yankee Calderón [PAN].” But they are not merely young people whose "revolutionary” ideology has ceased having anything to do with “democratic” and peaceful changes: they are placing their bets on “radical" changes and on “education for the revolution." They reject United States values in all instances, and accept as their own the Bolivarian values of Hugo Chávez. Thus, their ideology has much more in common with the South American than with Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas or Heberto Castillo, for example. Simón Bolívar, exalted by Chávez, has substituted among the youth of the PRD the old ideals of the institutional Left, in exchange for a position which is more belligerent, charged with petrodollars, internationalist, integrationist, anti-Yankee, and headed by Fidel Castro and Hugo Chávez. At least that is what is shown by conversations with these young people.
The stickers they themselves have affixed to the windows and walls of their space at the School of Philosophy likewise define a support for the FARC, always with a Bolivarian point of view. A sticker announces: Bolivarian Movement for the New Colombia. In the photo appears Tirofijo [”Sureshot,” nickname given to FARC's top chief] along with Alfonso Cano, "leader of the Bolivarian Movement.” In a photo on a poster appear Ricardo Téllez and Simón Trinidad, Bolivarian fighters. Below it reads: “Ricardo: constituent of the international committee of the FARC." Signature: FARC-EP and the Venezuelan flag, with two machine guns set down across each other and a book. Another sticker says: “Freedom for Simón Trinidad, peace negotiator for the FARC, held prisoner by Uribe's fascist regime. A small sticker reads: "Marching with the Liberator, 29 April 2000 – 29 April 2004, Bolivarian Movement for the New Colombia.” On the mural on the door is written: "There is no better way to achieve freedom than to fight for it."
For its part at the Acatlán FES [Faculty of Higher Studies] there is a news wall with small Venezuelan flags and a "Bolivarian" agenda. The same thing occurs, with varying degrees of intensity, at other working class secondary and preparatory school campuses.
Translation by W.K.
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