As many as 10,000 people assembled on the Zocalo, the main square of Mexico City last Wednesday to celebrate another anniversary of the Chicago Haymarket Rebellion that ushered in the labor movement at the turn of the century. This year’s May Day in Mexico came after a sweeping reform in its Federal Labor Law enacted this past December. Unions participating mostly protested the reforms, which they call a threat to the future of their jobs and wages.
Obama last visited Mexico during the G-20 summit in Los Cabos last June. He and his entourage will touch down again today for talks with Mexico’s new president, Enrique Peña Nieto. Since his election, Peña Nieto’s team has worked to shift media focus away from violence related to the drug war and towards the economy, something that will likely be reinforced during this visit.
Catalyzed by a teachers’ strike against federal education reform, a new popular movement is gaining momentum in Mexico. And in expanding its agenda to encompass long-standing grievances ranging from environmental destruction to insecurity and indigenous rights, the movement is posing a serious challenge to not only the policies of new President Enrique Pena Nieto, but the broader economic and political direction of a country ravaged by three decades of neo-liberalism as well.
Immigration reform has returned to center stage, sparked by President Obama’s announcement of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals last August, heightened by interest in Latino voters following the November election, and brought to a near-climax with anticipation over a pending immigration bill from a group of Senators known as the “Gang of 8”. Chicago actions coincided with Congress’ two-week Easter Recess and other organizing taking place across the country, where people took their case to representatives back in their districts for the break.
A nascent student group calling itself Yo Soy 132 (or I Am 132) held its second national march June 10, in protest of Mexican presidential candidate, Enrique Peña Nieto. Estimates had the crowd numbers in Mexico City alone at over 90,000.