Don't miss talking with MSB columnist José Luis Granados Ceja

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October 11, 2023/ This week’s issue/ Meizhu Lui, for the editorial team

A Bunch of Crock about México 

México doesn’t get mentioned in school, except that the American hero Davy Crockett gave his life for liberty fighting Mexican banditos at the battle of the Alamo. And that at the end of the Mexican War in 1848, the US annexed nearly half of México; god thought it was a good idea.


But US progressives know the truth: that Crockett fought for a cause that included the right to own slaves, and the Mexican War was an unprovoked invasion to expand territory and exploit its resources for the benefit of US capitalism.


So knowing how official narratives lie, why do so many US progressives believe what they read about what’s happening in México today? Why do some “progressives” echo the right-wing talking point that “AMLO is a demagogue damaging to México's future” rather than listen to what ordinary Mexicans are saying? Why do well-intentioned activists think Mexicans need their instruction on the correct way to analyze problems and organize opposition?


The great Mexican revolutionary leader and US labor organizer Ricardo Flores Magon said in 1914, “Workers of America! Is there nothing we Mexicans can teach you? Do you suppose that we, over whose wealth of mine and field and forest the earth’s money-lords have warred, do not comprehend the capitalist system, or that, until we have read Karl Marx, we can be robbed of surplus value without being aware of it?”


Solidarity begins with the opportunity to walk in the shoes of people with different histories, cultures and contexts — it begins with listening. So we’re super pleased to bring José Luis Granados Ceja to the US with the real news about México today as seen through the eyes of the Mexican people. It is through listening and dialogue that we will develop the shared analysis that can guide our path toward liberation.



We’re excited to announce MSP member José Luis Granados Ceja’s

in-person US speaking tour!

This accomplished investigative journalist from México City will talk to us about developments in México since AMLO’s election in 2018, and what they mean for México and US progressives. So, bring your questions. For full information about the East Coast events in October, click hereWest Coast events in November will be announced later. Walk, ride, fly — don’t miss this opportunity!


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Face-to-Face: Building Cultural Bridges

The México City-based freelance writer and photographer José Luis Granados Ceja focuses on contemporary political issues and social movements in México and Latin America. Besides publishing and engaging with people via his social media  site, José feels there’s nothing better than talking with people face to face; he’ll be on a US speaking tour on behalf of the México Solidarity Project in October and November. Among other regular publications, his Anti-Imperialista column appears monthly in this México Solidarity Bulletin. Follow him on @GranadosCeja. 

You’re a real “American”! That is, you’ve lived in México, the US and Canada. Why have you chosen México as your permanent home?


I left México when I was two, but it became my dream to go back. The hostility I encountered in the US strengthened my resolve to affirm my Mexican heritage. Thanks to a high school teacher, I learned that the global division of labor, forced on us by western capitalists, is why US citizens look down on all of us from the global South. That started my journey from believing in reform to revolutionary politics.


After working in Ecuador, I finally returned to México in 2018. Having lived in all three countries, I see my role as a cultural bridge, explaining what’s going on in México through Mexican eyes. I’m really excited to represent the México Solidarity Project on a speaking tour of the US in October and November.


The media often describe AMLO as just another in a long line of Mexican “caudillo” presidents — authoritarian strongmen, ruling on behalf of those he favors. True?

No. The press is squeezing AMLO into a racist stereotype with a tropical flavor. AMLO’s democratic and egalitarian goals are to eliminate extreme poverty. He is creating social programs to reverse the neoliberal policies enriching the few at the expense of the poor. FDR had similar goals in the New Deal. Was he an “authoritarian strongman”? Is it bad to resolutely act on behalf of the common people? 


The US media are lazy. They’d rather describe AMLO in terms they’ve long used to denigrate Latin American leaders than to report on what AMLO is actually accomplishing. 

Allan Sanders, Sugar Frosted Goodness

Some US leftists see AMLO as preferring Trump to Biden, given that he went along with some of Trump’s egregious migration policies such as requiring asylum seekers to “stay in México.” How do you explain this?


México’s relationship to the US is difficult to manage, to say the least. If AMLO made no concessions to Trump, he risked blowing up the Mexican economy. He didn’t support Trump’s migration policies — they made it hard for México to manage the border and take care of the migrants — but he succeeded in holding Trump back. Today Republicans are threatening to invade México, and the Democrats equivocate about it; the risks are real.

AMLO and Cuban president Díez-Canal, Feb. 11, 2023:  AMLO/Twitter

AMLO continually pushes the envelope, though. He refused to attend US-organized summits with their controlled agendas designed to meet US interests. He openly supports Cuba and rails against the US blockade, and he calls for Latin American states to create their own economic bloc. AMLO has walked a constant tightrope, challenging US policy while maintaining a working relationship. So far, he’s kept his balance.

In 2020, US progressives supported Bernie Sanders. But many US leftists ignore AMLO’s progressive politics — or even openly attack him. Is it that he’s not a socialist? What do you say to them?

AMLO calls himself a “humanist,” not a “socialist.” The task of his 6-year term is putting in place a transitional program to rescue the country from a corrupt elite. He attacks neo-liberal privatization schemes and has put key sectors of the economy into public hands. A socialist would make those changes too.


AMLO’s party, Morena, is now the party of the working class, because they have experienced concrete economic and legal benefits.  A México Solidarity Project goal is to help the left better understand what AMLO has accomplished, and for whom — and why we should actively support his push for internal transformation and external sovereignty. México’s successes can help the US left pursue a similar path.

support for Morena in brown, for the PRI/PAN coalition in green: El Financier

The uprising of the Zapatistas against neoliberalism inspired so many of us. Can we support both the Zapatistas and Morena?


The Zapatista and Morena movements don’t have to be antagonistic, and yes, we can support both. We admire the Zapatistas for their creation of autonomous spaces and their invention of collective, leaderless ways of organizing society. But for most of the country local autonomy is neither desired nor possible, and voting for Morena has been the way to make change.

The Zapatistas criticize Morena, and that’s ok. Any democratic institution needs to hear and respond to challenges from the social movements. For example, feminists have demanded a stronger response to femicides — that is a just criticism, and AMLO and Morena must address it.

But not all failures are Morena’s failures; in many local and state governments the old guard is still in power. For example, a woman was murdered in México City and her body found in Morelos. It became clear that the Morelos Attorney General was engaging in a cover-up. Morena-led México City took over and arrested the prosecutor, but he was released by his friends in the judiciary. This is like Trump pardoning his crooked friends.


What’s happening with Mexican workers? Are they, like US union activists, succeeding in organizing militant, democratic unions?


The labor reforms passed after AMLO took office completely changed the way worker issues are addressed. In the past, union leaders were tied to the ruling party, the PRI, and the so-called unions worked in concert with employers to keep the workforce docile. Workers couldn’t democratically choose their own unions and elect their own representatives.


Now, for the first time all contracts have to be ratified by the workers. If they don’t ratify a contract negotiated by the old union, workers can elect a new union to represent them. Previously, many workers didn’t even know they had a union, let alone a contract.


The USMCA’s new labor provisions protecting workers’ right to organize were also critical. Under USMCA rules, workers can file a complaint directly to the US Labor Department and the US Trade Representative, who then work with the Mexican Labor Department. This has resulted in several successful independent union organizing efforts, especially in the auto sector.


You’re about to start a speaking tour of the US. Why is it important for people in the US to get a clear view of what’s happening in México?


Morena’s electoral successes hold lessons for progressive electoral change in the US. As US progressives wonder if they can ever break out of the two-party system, México shows that it is possible.


The best way to concretely oppose US imperialism is to defend México’s sovereignty. US activists can pressure the US government to back off on its legal challenge to México’s ban on GMO corn imports. They can uphold México’s right to control its energy sector. They can support Mexican workers fighting for their rights at US-owned companies.


We must rescue the tradition of worker internationalism, through people-to-people connections. Those endure. I hope to accomplish this in a small way on this tour. I want to hear the questions, the concerns, the hopes of people in the US. Together, we can organize for transformational changes in our nations, and in our hemisphere.


Activist Vicky Hamlin, a retired tradeswoman, shop steward, and painter, shines the light — in her art and this column — on the lives of working people and the world they live in.


Off Balance with José  Dávila

José  Dávila still lives and works in Guadalajara, Mexico, where he was born in 1974. He trained as an architect at the Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudio Superiores de Occidente, and his work draws on his training as an architect and his knowledge of art history. He is a sculptor, painter and printmaker who shows globally and has won many awards. He considers himself a self-taught artist with an intuitive training.

I love how the work of José  Dávila makes me feel off balance. His work is wildly appropriate to this day and age, as I often feel adrift, looking for an anchor in this unstable, insecure and unpredictable world.

The moment of suspension 

In his sculpture, Dávila harnesses the forces of nature and the physics of energy, combining both in push/ pull, chaos/entropy, weight/lightness contradictions. Conflicting forces and materials make these opposing dynamics come alive. While his work is not at all figurative (no reference to the human body), he uses materials that are common and known.

Big rocks, I-beams, jumbles of chairs are all familiar and do tell a story.  His mix of very spare lines with big, clunky elements is elegant. His choices are clearly well thought out but seem casual, kind of funny, rough and tumble.

In “Joint Effort” you can see these contradictions at play. The bright red cheerful lines are almost being severed by the edge of a sheet of glass. The boulders hold the whole structure together, but it seems like it could all come tumbling down at any minute. The glass stands erect, tall, but you can’t help imagining it shatter as all the pushes and pulls become too much.

Joint Effort, 2017

The Lips Are Bright Crimson 2016, Acrylic and vinyl paint on loomstate linen

His paintings tell a different story. They feel more controlled, more exact. That push/pull tension is there, but less so. They are more colorful and quite beautiful in a very modern, hard-edged style. But I do miss that rough, uncontrolled element. His paint is handled without the gloppiness that oil paint can do (he uses vinyl paint). No brushstrokes, no paint mixed on the canvas. Very controlled and purposeful. 

The fact of constantly returning to the same point or situation 2022,   Silkscreen print and vinyl paint on loomstate linen

Acapulco Chair Stack, 2022,

Galerie OMR

They make sense when you see the paintings and sculptures together, you can see his mind at work. His sculpture is also controlled but less so those massive boulders just take over. The jumble of chairs, the construction elements, the colorful boxes, our very lives all material in Dávila’s search for balance. 

Dávila is an artist of our times. He speaks to me. In this insecure age, I wish that meant the promise of a happy ending but no, things fall down. Stay tuned…

Vicky Hamlin, a red-diaper baby” and painter from an early age, has lived a life that’s combined art, her feminist and socialist politics, and work as a welder. Hamlin’s activism has helped force open the doors of the building trades to women. Through Oakland’s Tradeswomen, Inc. and as a union steward, she spent years challenging macho culture and mentoring younger tradeswomen. Her well-known paintings and photos of tradeswomen combine art and politics and encourage young women to claim equal status with men. Hamlin is currently serving as the cultural editor for the México Solidarity Project.


Recent news reports and commentaries from progressive and mainstream media
on life and struggles on both sides of the US-México border, compiled by Jay Watts.

Ramon Antonio Vargas, US representative files resolution decrying rightwing calls for invasion of México Guardian. Castro’s resolution is not a bill and therefore would not have the force of law if the House passes it. Castro said it was important not to “normalize the idea of invading Mexico”.


Mario Patrón, Ayotzinapa: nueve años sin verdad ni justicia La Jornada. La dignidad de los padres de los 43 estudiantes desaparecidos, así como la de tantas familias en todo México que buscan a sus más de 110 mil desaparecidos, se sostienen como la más promisoria semilla de esperanza para una sociedad adolorida que no renuncia a su legítima demanda de verdad, justicia, reparación y no repetición.


New Wall on US Border is a Step Backward: Mexican President, Telesur. "This authorization for the construction of the wall is a step backward, because it does not solve the immigration problem. The causes must be addressed," Lopez Obrador said.


Enrique Gómez, "Un presidente espurio, ahora pide que EU vigile las elecciones", responde Sheinbaum a Calderón El Universal. El expresidente reside actualmente en la antigua España colonizadora de México, mientras su exsecretario de Seguridad Pública espera sentencia en una prisión estadounidense por su trabajo con el cartel de Sinaloa.


Mexicans Remember Victims of the Tlatelolco Massacre, Telesur. Over 300 students were murdered by the Mexican army during a peaceful protest that occurred 10 days before the 1968 Olympic Games.


¿Rumbo a Movimiento Ciudadano? Ebrard espera respuesta por impugnación a Morena Resumen Latinoamericano. El exsecretario de Asuntos Exteriores continúa su triste camino.


Communist Party of Vietnam attends international conference on political parties and new society in Mexico Vietnam Plus. The 27th edition of the conference drew more than 600 delegates from more than 100 political parties and left-wing movements of 34 countries in Latin America and other regions of the world, and was addressed by MORENA leaders Citlalli Hernández and Mario Delgado.


Emir Olivares Alonso, Apertura parcial del Tren Maya en diciembre: AMLO La Jornada. por primera vez el mandatario dejó abierta la posibilidad de que la inauguración podría darse por etapas: una a mediados de diciembre y otra el primer bimestre de 2024.


Gil Barndollar, Have Republicans Learned Nothing From the War on Terror? The Atlantic.

They decry “endless” conflicts. So why are they talking about waging war in México ?


Pedro Mellado Rodríguez, Se profundiza rechazo contra PAN-PRI-PRD Sin Embargo. El repudio es creciente. El tránsito fatal de la oposición rumbo al 2024 será de inexorable agonía.




The Mexico Solidarity Project brings together activists from various socialist and left organizations and individuals committed to worker and global justice. We see the 2018 election of Andrés Manuel López Obrador as president of México as a watershed moment. AMLO and his progressive Morena party aim to end generations of corruption, impoverishment, and subservience to US interests. Our Project supports not just Morena, but all Mexicans struggling for basic rights, and opposes US efforts to undermine organizing and México’s national sovereignty.


Editorial committee: Meizhu Lui, Bruce Hobson, Victoria Hamlin, Agatha Hinman, Peter Shapiro, Courtney Childs.  To give feedback or get involved yourself, please email us!

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