MÉXICO 2018: A record of grievances The government of Manuel López Obrador should listen to the people’s voices

Mexico, what’s next? By Víctor Almazan

A record of grievances By Adolfo Gilly
La arquitectura de un triunfo electoral por Telésforo Nava

By Adolfo Gilly

The victory of Andrés Manuel López Obrador and the National Movement for Regeneration (the party known as Morena) during the July 1 elections was truly sweeping. It wasn’t just his opponents and enemies who wouldn’t dare to think of seeing something of this dimension, it was also his friends. Fifty-three percent of the vote for a new party against three candidates of traditional lineage and their poor showing demonstrates the size of the victory.

But beyond politics and its twists and turns, it was the people on that night who demonstrated the human dimension and feeling of the vote. Thousands upon thousands of young girls and boys filled the Zócalo, that immense main plaza in Mexico City that many other times we’ve filled in protest, in rebellion and in mourning, this time with joy and overflowing energy on the faces, in the bodies and in the gestures.

You could also see it on the public transportation, in the streets and in the neighborhoods. I was surprised once again to see the spontaneous and seamless use of cell phones and digital technology (sometimes imagined as technology for domination of humans in the workplace and for plundering their minds, as in the use of drones for surveillance and denunciation of rallies like we’ve seen recently) to organize and communicate about the protest, the joy, and the alerts of a great crowd in peaceful and passionate protest.

These are the borders we are crossing, sometimes with giant steps, in just one day. July 1 was one of such days. Like it’s already happening, technology designed to control labor and minds becomes an instrument of freedom. As I watched the burning show, I couldn’t help but remember that little and courageous girl who corrected a certain politician over his use of language.

Just like all technologies — human creation — they are humans’ hands and brains, their cultures and their souls, the ones who ultimately decide their utilities and uses. We are, like at other times in our long history, before one of those borders.

These people are anxious, thirsty for answers. They did not vote for an exact and defined program, even if this exists on paper. They voted for a man who made a promise.

Some said he was a threat — the Business Council, for instance, even though they should have never inserted themselves as such in the election, since their role is another. Now, without shame, its members hug him and congratulate him for his victory. With the same joy, but a bit evilish on my part, I saw the business bear hug via Internet, and I believe I saw tension in the recipient, who can’t have forgotten the calumnies, the insults and the moneys used against him. I know these are peace times, but peace should not exclude discretion and decency.

This country is not under the old system of controls by landowners and industrial capitalists, even if they are an element of its economy. In charge is a new monster, one that in Mexico began growing and eating around the ‘70s of the 20th Century — Capitalism. Belgian economist Ernest Mandel made, in those days, an early analysis of this hungry domination being born in Mexican lands. He wasn’t the only one but he was one of the clearest.

Today, the Mexican element of that monster without country that dominates all old territories and nations — United States, Europe, Russia, China, Vietnam, the Middle East, our entire America — operates also from fiscal havens and exercises its decision power over those who do not abide by its decisions.

That monster — the hydra, as the Zapatistas call it — is now moving from the outside and from the inside to preserve its domination over Mexico’s  financial, industrial, and agricultural empire, one that was consolidated over the long reign of the PRI, PAN, and even PRD parties.

This sequence of plundering and repression began at least with the enormous fraud of the 1988 elections, the great theft to the Mexican people that has not even been explained by the organizers, authors and beneficiaries. That sequence continued through the deadly Pact for Mexico in 2012 among the PRD, PAN and PRD, which included oil privatization, labor and education reform, individual killings and massacres such as Nochixtlan, Miroslava Breach, Javier Valdez — the kidnappings and disappearances of Mexican men and women so far in the 21st century.

The number of killings, executions and aggressions during this election season, the violent and dirty campaign, the small and big frauds that were not enough to contain the popular avalanche are not small matters to be forgotten after the victory if we want to re-establish democracy and peace. The massive turnout by the Mexican people demands it. Cleaning the stables, not revenge, is what the new president-elect has promised. One of the episodes of this unending tragedy was Ayotzinapa 2. The report by the International Experts Interdisciplinary group is precise and cannot be refuted, but it has been ignored. Mothers and fathers, students and the people are still waiting for an answer. Here’s the link to the second report.

All the branches of government — executive, legislative, judicial — in the nation and in the states have the obligation to deliver the promises made by a president elected by an overwhelming majority, Andrés Manuel López Obrador. It’s completely understandable that during this transition the president elect remains cautions and discreet. But the reality will jump in December to the front of the stage and he knows well what’s the inheritance we have.


The first decisions made by Andrés Manuel López Obrador advertises his intention to make big changes. Among others, he wants to move out of the presidential palace, Los Pinos, to live in a private residence; he wants to dissolve the Presidential State Department (in charge with protecting the president), which would not eliminate other security measures; sell the presidential plane, double the pension given to older adults and grant a similar program to disabled people, eliminate the education reform, cancel existing plans for the construction of the new international airport and look for a different site.

None of those touch on the deep, dark side of Mexico’s contemporary tragedy. But they all propose a road and a direction, although coming up with details won’t be easy. He will have opposition and counter-opposition inside and outside his government since Morena is an alliance of diverse interests, proposals and visions.

The president-elect made an important announcement: Before being sworn in, he will travel throughout the country. I have a humble proposal, born out of the experience of our first campaign with Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas in 1988 through the Mexican Republic. Announce in every place, small and big, that all men and women, girls and boys, write letters to Andrés Manuel López Obrador telling him of their hopes, their needs, and their grievances. That they write in their own style, with their own grammar, as a way to tell him they trust he’ll listen and pay heed.

Back then we received thousands and thousands of letters, many of which were published by Ediciones Era. Today there would be a lot more, many more, that’s how big hope is this year as well as the desire to talk, to write and be heard. Just as in the time of revolutions, this is called the Record of Grievances. May the people write it and may the governments read, listen, and respond to those desires.

Have something to say about this story? Send us a letter.


Adolfo Gilly

About Adolfo Gilly

Adolfo Gilly ha sido profesor de historia y ciencias políticas en la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México desde 1979. Ha dado catedras en muchas universidades como Yale, la Universidad de California Berkeley, y la Universidad de Stanford, entre muchas otras. Es autor de varios libros, entre ellos La Revolución Interrumpida, un pilar en los estudios sobre la historia de México. De 1997 al 1999 laboró como consejero del entonces jefe de gobierno de la Ciudad de México, Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas Solórzano. | Adolfo Gilly has taught history and political science at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) since 1979. He has been a visiting scholar at numerous universities including Yale University, UC Berkeley, and Stanford University. He’s written many books, including The Interrupted Revolution, a seminal work about Mexico’s history. Gilly was Chief Advisor to the Office of Mexico City's Mayor, Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas Solórzano, from 1997 to 1999.