The Zapatistas Were Right!: The Silence of the Lambs

On February 6, 2015 the digital Mexican newspaper Sinembargo ran a story titled “Clinton pide perdón a México por la guerra contra el narco que se desató en su mandato” – roughly “Clinton asks Mexico for forgiveness for the War on Drugs that began on his watch!” Clinton was speaking in Mexico City at the “Juventud y Productividad” conference.

At first I was dubious about the source so I checked it out and, although it is not The New York Times, its news seems reliable. It is also much more sensational which does not necessarily discount its validity.  We all have masters –The Times–its advertisers and its political and financial connections — Sin embargo, if we are to believe it, the people.

Clinton told the audience. “”You have everything you need. I wish you did not have drugs, but it is not your responsibility. We controlled the transportation of drugs via the air and the water and then everything came rushing in and I apologize for it.”

One thing for sure is you can’t blame it all on the Republicans; many Democrats were complicit, as was the “Silence of the Lambs”.  My problem is that I wake up at night thinking about history much the same as the chess addict that is constantly reviewing his next moves.

Clinton was fun – he could give a good speech, he was intelligent, and was the source of titillating affairs.  You felt comfortable taking a selfie with him. He ran the country from 1993 to 2001, a period of prosperity so we did not have to worry a job or the interest compounding in our bank accounts.

On January 1, 1994, Subcomandante Marcos and the Zapatistas occupied six towns in Chiapas in armed struggle protesting NAFTA and neoliberalism. According to GLOVES OFF, the Zapatistas warned against “the social, environmental and economic destruction of free trade and neoliberal globalization…” The more militant grassroots people in the movement supported the Zapatistas.

However, even the more enlightened lambs remained silent limiting their involvement to buying T-shirts or going to an occasional fundraiser.

An infamous Chase memo, written on January 13, 1995 by an analyst for Chase Manhattan Bank, barely one year after rebellion began, according to Gloves Off “revealed a direct link between multinational banks in the North and state repression in the South”:

While Chiapas, in our opinion, does not pose a fundamental threat to Mexican political stability, it is perceived to be so by many in the investment community. The government will need to eliminate the Zapatistas to demonstrate their effective control of the national territory and of security policy. (Analyst Riordan Roett)

If you think about it, a lot happened during Clinton’s eight years, which makes “the Silence of the Lambs” even more tragic.  As mentioned, the War on Drugs and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) were consummated during his eight years. In less than twenty years Mexico has been taken over by the drug cartels, the ejidos have legally been made vulnerable, Mexico has twelve more billionaires, and the Mexican government is complicit with the cartels in incinerating the 43 Normalistas. On top of all that the Mexican Constitution of 1917 has been thrown in a garbage dump.

In contrast to Clinton’s act of contrition, Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto writes off questions about the murders and the complicity of the state by telling the parents of the 43 and the nation that it is time to move on while simultaneously time visiting the White House for his marching orders.

‎One of Clinton’s final acts as president was the deregulation of the market. In 1999 he signed the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999 that gutted the ‎Glass–Steagall Act of 1932 that was passed during the Great Depression to prevent commercial banks from trading securities with their clients’ deposits. Deregulation was a boom to Chase Manhattan Bank and Wall Street as well as a major cause for the 2008 financial collapse.

In the span of fifteen years the neoliberal takeover has seen the privatization of higher education, the Congress, and the Supreme Court, All this and President Barack Obama is meeting with Peña Nieto in the White House.

The importance of mythology is that it capsulizes life’s lessons. The tale of King Midas, for example, reminds me of Cal State Northridge. It is about Midas’ power to transmute whatever he touched into gold. Given this power by a satyr, Midas saw it as a solution to his kingdom’s economic woes.

Obsessed by his newly acquired gift, Midas was enthralled by the outcome. Showing off a bit, he wanted to show his power to his young daughter, he grabbed her by the hand and Midas unexpectedly turned her into gold.

There is a moral to this story, but unfortunately few can recognize it.

In the case of NAFTA, the Zapatistas were right and the lambs were wrong. History will judge their silence.  The mea culpas of the Bill Clinton as well as the remorse of the Robert McNamara after the Vietnam War will ring hollow.

History matters and so does our silence.

Postscript: In all my years fighting the fast tracking of NAFTA and then NAFTA, I never thought I would live to see the horror of it all. I feel like a war correspondent walking through a bombed out city.

— by Rodolfo F. Acuña

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