Mexico

Alameda Park is Mexico City's languid space for lovers and open-air ballroom dancers: the gents in two-tone shoes, the ladies in finery and heels.

The cobbled paths undulate from the great earthquake of 1985. You imagine the fairground sinking into the cobwebs of cracks, its Edwardian organ playing forlornly. Two small churches nearby totter precariously: the surreal is Mexico's facade.

The United Nations global climate summit in Cancun, Mexico, looks set to repeat the failures of Copenhagen. The chances of Cancun producing a binding agreement that would avert climate disaster are next to zero.

Many world leaders have not even bothered to attend the summit, which runs from November 29 to December 10.

Leaders of rich nations and the media talked much about the “low expectations” of an agreement in the lead-up to the conference.

If at first you don’t succeed, redefine success. This phrase has become the unofficial motto of this year’s United Nations climate conference in Cancun, Mexico.

A week out from Cancun, which runs over November 29 to December 10, there is little hope of meaningful progress. Yet key players have sought to throw a shroud of official optimism over the looming failure.

Few Western politicians want a repeat of last year’s Copenhagen climate conference. They consider it a public relations disaster.

In Mexico, a war involving rival drug gangs, law enforcement agencies and the national army has officially claimed 23,000 lives since 2006.

This figure does not include the many thousands of innocent people who have been “disappeared” by police and army units.

The violence can be directly attributed to the corrosive impact of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

NAFTA was signed on January 1, 1994 between the United States, Canada and Mexico with the aim of removing trade and investment barriers between these nations.

In late August, Mexican authorities found the bodies of 72 migrants from Central and South America. They had been kidnapped on their way to the United States, brutally shot and left to die in a remote, abandoned ranch near a small town in northeastern Mexico.

Eighteen-year-old Luis Freddy Lala Pomavilla was one of two survivors of the massacre who managed to escape and lead authorities to the crime scene. He claimed he and his fellow US-bound migrants were kidnapped by the Zetas drug cartel and told they would either have to pay a ransom or work as drug couriers and hit men.

Six US banks control 60% of GDP

“They are Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo. They have assets equivalent to 60 percent of our gross national product.

“And to put this in perspective, in the mid-1990s, these six banks or their predecessors, since there have been a lot of mergers, had less than 20 percent. Their assets were less than 20 percent of the gross national product.”

“The Adelitas have arrived/To defend our oil/Whoever wants to give it to the foreigners/ Will get the shit kicked out of him!” yodelled the brigades of women pouring onto the esplanade of the Mexican senate. The demonstration was to protest a petroleum privatisation measure President Felipe Calderon insists is not a petroleum privatisation measure — and which he sent onto the Senate for fast-track ratification at the tag end of the session this April.

Although slated to run on July 20-28, the Zapatista “Intergalactica” gathering really began on July 19 in Tuxtla Gutierrez, with an event in the main square in support of the People in Defence of the Land. Several busloads of Zapatistas from Mexico City arrived to join those already there in demanding indigenous land rights.

Launching the second phase of La Otra Campana (The Other Campaign) on March 25, Subcomandante Marcos, the best-known spokesperson for the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN), denounced “the current stage of capitalism” as a “new war of conquest”. He argued that “another world is possible, but only on top of the corpse of capitalism, the dominant system”.

For more than six months, the people of Oaxaca in southern Mexico have been mobilising to oust the hated state governor Ulises Ruiz Ortiz. The repression of the uprising has been severe, with ongoing savage attacks — including killings — on movement activists by the military-style Federal Preventative Police.

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