The Impending Change

 Luis Rubio

Mexico is living through the enormous paradox of a society and economy in full effervescence in the face of a political world that inhabits unbridgeable palaces of the old PRIist system, including its partners and godchildren. On the one hand, the economy has been experiencing an accelerated transformation for decades: both winners as well as losers in the processes of adjustment to the reforms that, since the eighties, have altered the old ways of producing, exist in a world that is different from the one reflected in the media or in the political discourse. At the same time, the day-to-day reality has obliged the population, above all the most modest of this in rural zones, to solve their own problems, the majority of the latter the product of the absence of government. On the other hand, the political world resides in a nostalgic bubble, believing that their decisions, from the nether regions of Mount Olympus, suit the reality of today. This is somewhat akin to the proverbial discussion on seating arrangements at the next supper on the Titanic.

The change that the Mexican society is undergoing has two origins. On the one hand, the economic change is palpable, but it is one of very distinct characteristics along the length and breadth of the country. Vast regions have adapted to the change, have made the unstoppable technological change their own and are accruing the benefits of high levels of productivity, investment and development. If one were to draw a line just above of Mexico City, almost everything to the North grows at more than 5%, with some localities substantially above that number. This has produced a new society, evermore optimistic and successful, one that welcomes the future. On the other hand, there are communities, above all to the South of that line, which have remained stuck, in good measure due to the political and social structures that continue to grant privilege to political, union, and local economic interests. These powers maintain a status quo that exerts no effect other than that of preserving poverty, and in any event, increasing it. No one in their right mind can speak today of a sole country when they think of policies of development.

On the other hand, the Mexican society has acquired an   unheard of militancy in the last decades. All types of civil organizations have arisen, presenting formal complaints, manifestos proliferate and discontent mushrooms. That has nothing to do with the recent earthquakes, although they are symptomatic of what occurs there, in the depths of the society. But the true change does not lie in the so-called “civil society”, however much a new political reality is gestating therein that multiplies in impact via the social networks, but instead in the “base” of the socioeconomic pyramid, where there are signs of an insuppressible change that, sooner or later, will transform Mexico.

On that plane, there are extraordinary examples of communities that have assumed the leadership, above all in matters of violence and criminality, and they have assumed the safeguarding of their localities and have converted them into territory not permitting the entry of bands of criminals. Numerous experiences of actions, dialogues and conflicts among base organizations, particularly those of victims of human rights’ violations and disappearances -excessively frequent events in recent decades-, yield important examples of capacity and a willingness to act to solve and construct solutions and not acts of revenge. Innumerable victims of the violence have ended up organizing themselves for protection from the judicial authorities, whom they perceive as reluctant to see them and respond to them, which has led to the constitution of organizations that mobilize the population and that de facto create awareness of the ineffectiveness of the judiciary and of the abuse the citizenry undergoes. What is impacting about these processes of organization is that, in the majority of cases, these are caused by the absence of government, which translates into insecurity, which in turn escalates when citizens approach the government entities supposedly dedicated to protect and help them to solve their problems.

Faced with this, our politicians have returned to their origins. The PRI adopted a mode of succession indistinguishable from that of the sixties, while Morena, well, did the same thing but with less drama. In contrast with that era, however, the president will choose the presidential candidate, not the president, the difference not a minor one.

Much more importantly, the contradiction between what is happening in the society and what is occurring in the political world is not only flagrant, but unsustainable. Mexico is progressing at an accelerated pace but one that is invisible to those who do not wish to see it, and the mismatch between what may be observed in the debates on the presidential succession and what is taking place in the depths of the society is extraordinary.

Not obvious is what the outcome will be from the confrontation brewing in the breeding grounds, but I have no doubt at all that everything will depend on the manner in which the civil and urban organizations communicate among each other and integrate into those with popular roots. That is, on encountering the incapacity of the politicians to emerge from their tiny and protected world, the future will be decided upon by the willingness and capacity of the society to join forces and learn to coexist, independently of its social or economic provenance.