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LibreOrganize 0.6.0 - Documentation

Engaging Mexican Citizens Living Abroad

from the May 11, 2022 Bulletin

Diego Alfredo Torres Rosete, born in México City in 1972, has been an independent journalist, a defender of immigrant rights in the US, and a worker for international solidarity. A long-time militant in the Morena party and a supporter of Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador since 2016, Torres now serves in Morena’s secretariat for Mexicans Abroad and International Policy. No other party body has as much potential to tap the energy of the over 10 million Mexican nationals who currently live outside México.


How did you become a supporter of AMLO and Morena?

Diego Torres: In 1999 I emigrated to the United States without documents. But in 2010 I was arrested and deported. Back in México, the economy had gotten even worse. Unable to find work, I once again crossed the border. And again I was detained by ICE, in 2015. But I had been writing a blog since 2012 criticizing the Peña-Nieto government. Thanks to that blog, I could verify the danger for me if I returned to México. I applied for political asylum. I was denied, after a four-year process.


In the meantime, I had learned about the newly formed Morena party, and I supported the party from the United States. Then, in 2019, a judge granted me “voluntary departure” status. I’m not allowed to return to the US until 2024. But with AMLO’s 2018 election, I could look forward to supporting Morena in México.


You’re now working for Morena’s Mexicans Abroad and International Policy branch. What does this department do?

In 2020, the National Executive Committee of Morena selected Martha García Alvarado as secretary of Mexicans Abroad and International Policy. This arm of Morena recruits and organizes Mexicans outside the country, especially in the United States where most of them live, but also in Canada, South America, and Europe. We recruit these Mexican citizens to join Morena.


Mexican citizens living abroad can vote in Mexican elections. Do many participate?

In the recent “Revocation of Presidential Mandate” referendum on whether or not to recall AMLO before the end of his term, only 8,287 Mexicans abroad voted, 6,324 voted in favor of AMLO. Unfortunately, few people knew the procedures for registering and then obtaining a ballot. In México, people register in the state where they live. Those who live in the US can do this online, but many — especially farmworkers — don't have computers or know how to use online technology. Many may also only speak Original Languages, ??and we still do not have materials available in their languages.


Even inside México, only 20 percent of the Mexican electorate voted in the April 10 referendum asking whether President López Obrador should continue in office. Why?


The official body that runs elections in México — the INE, Instituto Nacional Electoral — does not like AMLO and didn’t promote the vote. INE didn’t even set up enough polling stations. And the media, still largely controlled by old PRI and bourgeois forces, did not encourage voting. Morena’s opposition essentially did all it could to subvert the vote — and the resulting low turnout then gave the opposition the opportunity to call the balloting a waste of time and money.


But, even so, the referendum turned out to be extremely significant. The vote proved that AMLO fulfills his promises to the people. He had promised a constitutional amendment that would allow the Mexican people the right to recall presidents before the end of their term. This ballot put that idea into practice and represented the first such exercise of the people’s power. I think not only presidents, but all governors should be subject to recall!


What challenges does Morena face today?


Our people need political education to give them the critical thinking skills to make the decisions that will lead Mexico out of the neoliberal economic order. Take the Tren Maya, for example, the railway the Morena government is now building across the Yucatán peninsula. The people need to learn how to negotiate development around this train.


What do I mean? A train could give people a way to bring their products to market — and bring in things they need. Or, on the other hand, a train could make it easy for foreign investors to get rich by robbing the area of its natural and human resources. Rather than just saying “yes” or “no” to any project, people need to know how to demand structures that ensure that they will be the main beneficiaries. 

A second challenge: doing a better job of listening to the people at Morena's base. We should have popular assemblies every three months, but this has not been a priority.

Morena, a huge party, has a relatively weak leadership. We chose our leaders in a process that, while legal, lacks certain legitimacy after not adhering to our party statutes. I would call factionalism another danger for our party. We have factions getting created, even though our statutes prohibit this.


But the main challenge, I would say, is for Morena to recover our connection to the social movements that created the party in the first place. We have a long way to go to reestablish this connection.


Let me say one more thing about Morena: We have been able to admit our errors, the first step to correcting them. Life is so beautiful, I like to say, that despite pains and sorrows, it always gives us hope for a new day to fill with happiness. I have hope.