Economic policy after the elections

The following article was written by Napoleón Gómez Urrutia and published on January 8th, 2015 in La Jornada, Mexico City’s leading daily newspaper considered by many scholars as one of the last remaining independent newspapers in the Americas.

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Economic policy after the elections

Napoleón Gómez Urrutia

Thursday, 18th June 2015

In Mexico, over the last three months, political parties and some civil, social, union and business organisations have been actively participating and speculating in the midterm elections for the Chamber of Deputies, on both federal and state level, as well as nine governorships of the states of the Republic that it was constitutionally necessary to elect.

From the 7th June, these same groups have turned to giving interpretations, opinions and information through the media about who won or lost in this electoral process, which has enthralled Mexican political activity, or at least did so previously. However, while this stage lasted many people forgot about what was happening with the application of an open and flexible commercial strategy that has been seriously affecting growth and the consolidation of national industry, through imports of certain subsidised and unregulated steel products, coming principally from China, Russia, Korea and Japan. This terrible effect on Mexican industrial development had already been denounced and in some of the articles I write for La Jornada (Who is defending Mexico?, 2nd April 2015), as well as certain declarations and expositions published in various national newspapers on behalf of the National Union of Mine, Metal, Steel and Allied Workers of the Mexican Republic of which I have the honour of being President, in a mature and responsible approach to protecting sources of work.

However, they not only failed to offer solutions to the problem, but the country’s situation became worse due to three fundamental factors:

1.- The lack of a nationalist policy that is sensitive to the real needs of the economy and the population. The impression is that the government’s most conservative forces have united their projects, their incapacity or their indifference in order to apply a blueprint of promotion and commercial relations totally at odds with national interests. What is more, they have put their submission to market laws and international agreements and conventions ahead of labour policy and general wellbeing, or worse still, ahead of the health, lives and happiness of Mexicans. In sum, they must be saying, the country and the majority of the population who live in increasing poverty can put up with it.

2.- On the other hand we have the predatory, threatening, violent and denigrating attitude of some companies and businesspeople who have clearly demonstrated their opportunism and  unchecked ambition to take advantage of the situation and begin to fire workers and make overblown or unjustified personnel adjustments, with no concern that these actions may further complicate the panorama of inequality and the critical problems associated, on the one hand, with organised delinquency or, on the other, social protest.

As such, in the area of mining, metalwork and steelwork a series of dismissals and technical stoppages of work were announced, which began to be applied at the end of March in the case of Arcelor Mittal, concerning over 900 non-unionised workers with the threat of reaching 2000. Altos Hornos de México, owned by Alonso Ancira Elizondo, originally announced on the 26th of May a reduction of its workforce of 2000 workers, which it later increased to 4500 on the 3rd of June. At the same time, other companies, such as Grupo México, Grupo Peñoles, Grupo Industrial Monclova, Compañía Minera Autlán and many smaller ones, have joined this project to close down opportunities for dignified work for thousands of workers and their families and thus bury their hopes of achieving a decent or adequate standard of living for their future projects and that of their families. After all, who cares, apart from those affected, if profits come first with the privileged and dehumanised position in society. Or perhaps they are the demons of unchecked and uncontrolled corruption and greed that are weakening industry to the extent of reducing it almost to a state of general coma. Where is the commitment of these companies towards the country? Do politicians not realise that they could stop this terrible situation? Or do they not care?

3.- The third related element, which goes hand in hand with or is a major part of this serious crisis, is the cynical attitude and total submission of many union leaders or pseudo-leaders who have capitulated and followed the orders of bosses to support them in their degrading betrayal. There are many cases in which they even support companies in the dismissal of staff, and in exchange for a few or a lot of coins they have handed over their conscience and other things to betray their own colleagues, who they claim to represent.

What can happen in these conditions. On the one hand, the government has taken certain actions to apply tariffs to some steel products imported at subsidised prices, without covering the wide range of industrial companies that would get some relief from this decision. Some company bosses have complained that these are improvised measures in the face of pressure, lacking any vision or use. Of course these very managers simultaneously  cry and claim injury so as to increase the exploitation and control of the country’s natural resources, demanding compensation and new concessions to keep or expand the privileges they have accumulated.

On the other hand, companies have introduced greater control over workers through blackmail, threats of dismissal, terror and submission in favour of their interests, with the use of charros and corrupt individuals, as well as pawns and thugs to avoid disagreements and rebellions.

At the same time, the control some of the most corrupt businesspeople have over the media and dishonest journalists has increased dramatically, and they use them scrupulously on a daily basis to trick and lie to society about the real situation and their cloaked plans to commit abuses and greater exploitation of the country’s workforce and natural resources. Fortunately, in the media there are some exceptions that lend dignity to life and the behaviour of society.

 

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