As Mexico Nears Chaos, Neoliberalism a Culprit
Coleman, Bill, Coleman, Patty, National Catholic Reporter
CUERNAVACA, Mexico -- The Mexican bishops, in a recent statement, declared that peace in this country "hangs by a thread," while other political analysts here speak of "the race against anarchy."
Since the January revolt in the southern state of Chiapas, political and economic stability here has become increasingly tentative. And beneath it all, say experts in church and state matters, is Mexico's head-on encounter with "neoliberalism."
What Mexicans call neoliberalism is a return to the kind of unregulated capitalism common in the United States in the early part of this century. In the United States, neoliberalism was championed most recently during the administrations of Roland Reagan and George Bush. The theory holds that government's role is to promote business growth by reducing regulations and curtailing social programs.
Here, however, the encounter with unregulated capitalism has brought upheaval and revolt.
There have been 300 antigovernment demonstrations during the past three months in Mexico City alone, according to a report released March 8 by the Ministry of the Interior.
As early as last August, neoliberalism was criticized as the root of the country's problems by Bishop Samuel Ruiz Garcia of San Cristobal de las Casas in Chiapas, who wrote an open letter to Pope John Paul II on the conditions of the indigenous poor. "Confronted by the cruelty of neoliberalism," Ruiz said, "we must raise our voice as the prophets did and say that the poverty which this theory generates is evil and contrary to the will of God."
Since then, neoliberalism has become the rallying cry of Mexican opposition politics. Politicians, academics, bishops, priests and people in the street all use it to explain what has happened to their country and why there is so much unrest. …