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Mexico: Rank and file sets the tone at the First National Congress of Morena

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  • Cort Greene
    http://www.marxist.com/mexico-rank-and-file-sets-the-tone-at-the-first-congress-of-morena.htm Mexico: Rank and file sets the tone at the First National
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 30, 2012
      Mexico: Rank and file sets the tone at the First National Congress of
      Written by Ubaldo Oropeza, member of the Morena National Council Friday, 30
      November 2012
      [image: Print]<http://www.marxist.com/mexico-rank-and-file-sets-the-tone-at-the-first-congress-of-morena/print.htm>[image:

      The first national congress of Morena, the Movement for National
      Regeneration, was held on November 19th. This is the new left-wing
      political formation promoted by Andr�s Manuel L�pez Obrador (AMLO),
      formerly the leader of the left wing of the PRD [the Democratic
      Revolutionary Party]. Here we provide a report by the Marxists of the
      Socialista* who took part in the congress.

      [image: morena-congress2012-2]<http://www.marxist.com/images/stories/mexico/morena-congress2012-2.jpg>More
      than 1700 elected delegates were present from the 300 district congresses
      that had been set up all over the country. Given that the results of these
      local congresses had been quite diverse, and that in some cases there had
      been some interventions by groups allied to certain currents within the
      PRD, and that there had even been infiltration by �Panistas� or �Priistas�,
      this congress itself was also important to see the balance of forces that
      existed between a rank and file that is left wing and democratic and the
      influence of organised bureaucratic groups from the right.**

      [image: morena-congress2012]<http://www.marxist.com/images/stories/mexico/morena-congress2012.jpg>[Note:
      �Panistas� refers to members of the PAN, the right-wing National Action
      Party, and �Priistas� to members of the PRI, Institutional Revolutionary
      Party that has governed Mexico for most of the time since the Mexican
      Revolution that began in 1910. It is anything but revolutionary and is
      affiliated to the Second International].
      AMLO�s Opening Speech

      [image: morena-congress2012-3]<http://www.marxist.com/images/stories/mexico/morena-congress2012-3.jpg>The
      first point of the agenda was the contribution of AMLO. His speech was firm
      and clear in relation to what Morena needs to do in relation to eradicating
      the vices that affect other parties, vices such as �clientelismo�,
      patronage, a way to get votes by promising government jobs and �acarreo�,
      the practice of transporting people to a political meeting or a polling
      station, in other words bussing in supporters. He also said that all the
      activists and the leadership of this organisation had to behave in an
      honourable and honest manner.

      He said that nowadays, despite the fact that political parties have a bad
      name, more than 80% of the activists who had taken part in district
      congresses had been in favour of establishing ourselves as a party. AMLO
      emphasized the fact that the activists were in favour of there being a
      party because they believed that it was going to be a different type of
      party. But there is something that is even more important: the rank and
      file understands that what is needed is a tool in the organised struggle on
      a national scale and that there will be within the party the chance for
      their needs to be heard.

      There are many comrades who are sceptical that Morena could be such a
      party. They often cite the examples of the development of bureaucracies,
      corruption and �jobs for the boys� that reigned within the PRD and other
      left parties. With these arguments to hand they say that it is a mistake to
      have another party. However, what they always fail to understand is that a
      party is not an electoral machine. The party is the historical memory of a
      certain class; it is a tool in the struggle of the exploited. And it was
      precisely this that was discussed in quite a heated manner in the
      committees where they discussed the principles, programme and statutes of
      the party.

      What was also stressed was that the National Council and the national
      leadership should be elected in a free and democratic manner, that we
      should not allow any type of pressure on members on how to vote and that
      there should be evidence of internal democracy.

      One of the incidents that drew a lot of attention was the presence of the
      US ambassador at the opening of the congress and when this was announced a
      murmuring arose that clearly showed that many did not agree with the
      ambassador being there. When they announced that there was a member of the
      Cuban embassy there, it was impossible to stop the shouts of support for
      the Cuban people and the rejection of US imperialism. Throughout the hall
      there could be heard the slogan: Cuba Yes, Yankees No; Cuba Yes, Yankees No!

      AMLO�s reason for having representatives from both the US and Cuba, with
      everything that they both stand for, was to try and show that he was
      neutral, but despite this the congress clearly showed it was in favour of
      the Cuban people and totally against US imperialism.
      Discussions in the Workshops

      Straight after AMLO�s speech various workshops (Mesas de Trabajo) began to
      discuss the programme, principles and statutes. It has to be said, however,
      that the time allowed for these discussions, scarcely two hours, was
      clearly not enough given that there were more than 1700 comrades present
      and many of them who wanted to take part were not able to do so. In
      relation to the discussions on the statutes of the party they had to extend
      the session to more than three hours, such was the intensity of the debate.

      Some things have been said in different sections of the media about the
      amendments to the statutes that were approved. It is worth mentioning that
      that this was the most important and interesting point in the congress as
      here there could be seen in a clear manner the balance of forces in the
      congress and I think that this remained clear for all to see despite the
      manoeuvres of those in charge of the committees when chairing the

      The biggest battle in these discussions was in reference to the future
      candidates that Morena will put forward in elections. The idea was that
      there should be clear and open methods of preventing the infiltration of
      opportunists and bureaucrats who wanted to come to Morena for a career and
      then hop from job to job earning millions of pesos each year.

      In the Second Committee on Statutes the comrades around the *Izqierda
      Socialista* [Socialist Left, the journal of the IMT in Mexico] together
      with other comrades from states such as Guerrero, Xalapa Veracruz, Quintana
      Roo, DF (Federal District of Mexico City), and so on, put up a hard battle
      to try and get those who had some position that they had been elected to by
      popular vote to give 50% of their salaries to the party. In the same manner
      there was also a hard fight to try and ensure that in order to be a
      candidate for any position any comrade had to have been an active member of
      the party for at least two years.

      In Committee Number One there were also arguments put forward by Comrade
      Taibo II for the need for Morena to be self-financed by the members and
      that this could be achieved by having a membership subscription of one peso
      a day. This money would be useful to finance those comrades who were
      getting help to carry out their work and if our party were to receive money
      from the State, this money could be used to finance the political education
      of the members of the party.

      It was also emphasized that Morena should be organised on a sectoral basis
      and not only on a district basis. This is absolutely fundamental given that
      we are trying to join in with social movements and in order that our
      leading comrades can intervene in a direct manner we have to develop our
      organisational work in the areas where people live (barrios), the schools,
      the factories and so on.

      Another great success that we achieved in the Statutes was that after the
      next national congress, the National Executive Committee is to be elected
      by the whole congress and not by the National Council. All of these
      initiatives, and many others that we are not mentioning here, arose from a
      spirit of wanting to make Morena a real tool in the struggle and not an
      electoral apparatus nor a club for sentimental good intentions.

      In each of the three committees on the statutes the discussion was
      passionate and the amendments were put forward in a comradely manner and
      were defended with clarity and without any type of threats. In relation to
      the committee on principles and programme the speakers� list was very long
      and therefore it was not possible to deal with each one of the proposals in
      a clear manner.

      One of the things that many comrades commented on was that in all of the
      discussions the need was emphasized for Morena to be a party that was
      clearly left-wing and not simply progressive. In addition, many comrades
      from the *Izquierda Socialista* insisted on the need for us to be much
      clearer in relation to defining our ideology and that we should be clearly
      anti-capitalist and socialist.

      Our proposal on this issue was not the only one that was put forward and
      that is quite significant. We have to say that we were the only socialist
      organisation that came out openly in favour of a socialist revolution. What
      was interesting is that in many other contributions, mainly from the
      different states, this same point was also emphasised. The moderators from
      this committee decided in the plenary session, and this was agreed by the
      congress, that they would promote a wide discussion within Morena about how
      it defines itself ideologically and if it should declare itself to be
      anti-capitalist and socialist. We will follow up this point in a detailed

      In addition to this it was also stressed that there was the need to defend
      the secular state; to renationalise the basic sectors of the economy in
      order to achieve real political and economic independence; to state that we
      are in favour of carrying out the San Andres Larrainzar agreement [signed
      between the Mexican government and the EZLN Zapatistas on a number of
      issues including the rights of indigenous peoples]; to show that we are
      totally against Israeli imperialist aggression against the Palestinian
      people; to show that we are on the side of the different left and
      progressive governments that there are in Latin America; cancel the foreign
      debt, etc.

      There is not time here to be more specific about the proposals that could
      have all been discussed much more deeply. Nevertheless, the battle that was
      kept from view and contained in all of the congresses at district and state
      level, a battle between the rank and file and right-wing currents, was
      clearly evident at this congress for all to see and the results were
      emphatic. The rank and file was there for all to see because we are a
      fundamental element for change in our country.
      The Election of Members of the National Council

      At the same time that the discussions were taking place ballot boxes were
      put out so that voting could take place for any one of the 2500 delegates
      to the congress. At first this method seemed very democratic but in the end
      it left a lot to be desired because people knew the most public faces of
      Morena but they did not know the rank and file leaders in each of the
      states. Furthermore, there was also a problem of inequality because some
      states only had a few delegates because of lack of money for transport so
      about 700 delegates could not take part in the congress.

      There was also no way for potential candidates to the National Council (NC)
      to make themselves known to the congress. Everything was done in a
      disorderly manner so that if you wanted to have the chance of fighting to
      be a member of the NC, you had to form alliances with other comrades to
      promote one or two candidates.

      And although AMLO often stressed that he was not in favour of lists to be
      voted for, in the end there wasn�t any other way to promote comrades who
      were fighters and left socialists. For our part we managed to get one
      comrade onto the National Council with the help of different states and of
      the Federal District and this could be a way of bringing together a force
      to maintain the idea of fighting for a socialist revolution in our country.

      It is worth pointing out that one of the aspects of this vote that
      attracted a lot of attention is that one of the social fighters who is
      clearly anti-bureaucracy and to the left of everyone there, Comrade Taibo
      II, was the person who obtained the second highest vote in the whole
      congress, only being beaten by AMLO himself.
      The First National Council

      On the following day, November 20th, 300 members of the National Council
      met to vote for the National Executive Committee and to decide on a plan of
      action for the coming period. Suffice to say that the membership of the
      Council is quite diverse in that there are left intellectuals; social
      leaders at national, regional and state level from the struggle against the
      electoral fraud that happened in 2006; some � but to be honest very few �
      leaders of workers and peasants; youth leaders from the student struggles;
      defenders of human rights; representatives of the movement for diverse
      sexual orientation; socialists; and some bureaucratic remnants from the PRD.

      Once again AMLO stressed in his opening speech that no one wanted to impose
      any political line on any of those present and in effect that was true
      given that the proposals that were made in the heat of the debate were
      analysed and freely voted on. The secretaries are as follows:

      President: Mart� Batres
      General Secretary: Berta Luj�n
      Organisation Secretary: Tom�s Pliego.
      Finance: Marco Medina
      Communication and Propaganda: Jes�s Ram�rez
      Political Education: Froylan Yescas
      Human Rights: Rosario Piedra Ibarra
      Research and Projects: Pablo Moctezuma
      Cooperatives and Solidarity Economy: Alfredo Ram�rez Bedoya
      Youth: Patricia Ortiz
      Women: Martha Miquel Palafox
      Indigenous question: Ana Lilia Rivera
      Labour: Jes�s Martin del Campo
      Production: Irma S�enz
      Welfare: Clara Brugada
      Art and Culture: Paco Ignacio Taibo II
      Environment: Terelupe Reyes
      Anti- corruption: Bernardo Bat�s
      International Relations: Juan Carlos Loera
      Morality and Values: Ortiz Pinqueti
      Sexual Diversity: Jaime L�pez

      If we look at the composition of this list it is completely unequal and
      what it reflects in the end are the different tendencies that exist amongst
      the rank and file of Morena. It is an accurate reflection of the
      heterogeneous nature of the party and the lack of any clear policy or
      ideology. Nevertheless, it is a good beginning. There is no doubt that
      there is an immense distance between this democratically elected committee
      and the national leadership of any of the left parties that exist today.
      The main task that now faces the most conscious rank and file members is to
      fight for a leadership that is more politically defined.
      The Plan of Action

      At the end of the session AMLO proposed an ambitious plan of action for
      Morena to be able to become, both in effect and in law, a political party.
      This does not mean just having meetings at state level but building the
      membership and the political level. The active rank and file of Morena is
      going to be qualitatively different. It is not simply going to finance the
      party. One of its tasks has to be to raise its political level, to take
      part in committee meetings and to work in an active manner to make the
      party grow in numbers.

      At the same time Morena will take the lead in fighting against the
      so-called �reforms� that the government is carrying out and which will
      directly affect the working people. It will call for mass mobilisations on
      December 1st and we will go out and fight against the rise in VAT [purchase
      tax] and against the privatisation of PEMEX. At the same time we will have
      to support the mobilisations of workers who are fighting against the labour
      reform law that is anti-worker, as well as supporting other struggles that
      are being taken up by our people.

      Political education schools are being prepared and through these we will be
      able to promote a critical view of our history as well as reinforce the
      political education of the rank and file activists.

      There is a lot to be done. We need people to do the jobs so that we can go
      forward. On our part we in *Izquierda Socialista* will work to build
      Morena, and within Morena we will defend the ideas of socialism and the
      need for the radical transformation of society.

      (21 November 2012)
      Home <http://www.marxist.com/> � The
      Mexico <http://www.marxist.com/mexico/>

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