Power as a mirror and an image

June 1995

First Mirror

Power as the mirror and the image

Chapter I.-Demonstrated is the absurd coherence of the mirror placed in front of the mirror, of the double deceit of the image of Power, and the great truth, which, it is said, we should believe: the Power is and is necessary, sufficient and eternal.

First Deceit:

In the Power the mirror reflects a double image: what is said and what is done. The mirror hides nothing. The resources are gone, it is not the same as before. Its surface is mildewed and stained. It can no longer "reverse" reality. On the contrary, it shows the contradiction. But in making this evident, it controls it and puts it at its service. Now it simply attempts to make that contradictory image seem "natural", as "evidence", as "unquestionable".

If the first half of the year 1994 was filled with surprises and unprecedented events, the same period of 1995 demonstrates that the course of neoliberalism has no course. The contra- diction of neoliberalism is that it has no direction. The contradiction is its improvisation which constitutes the spinal chord of the new national politics which are converted into the program of the government.


Where its says "The well-being of your family" it shows scarcity, unemployment, the fall of all economic indicators.

Where it says "peace through a political negotiation" it shows all the military paraphernalia of tanks, airplanes, helicopters, thousands of troops. Where it says "definitive political reform" it shows the justification for the imposition of governors, "democracies" which are maintained by an army which each time acquires more characteristics of an army of occupation..in its own land.

Where it says "the defense of the national sovereignty": it shows the sales tickets with the special prices on the wealth of the country.

Where it says "speak always with the truth" it shows the manipulations of the mass media, especially the electronic media where the lie is so crude that it surprises and provokes laughter instead of indignation.

Where it says "He knows how to do it" it modifies the punctuation and recites: "Does he know how to do it?"

The mirror of the Power speaks: "It is I or fascism", and it increases repression, persecution, the terrorism of the State. "I or anarchy", and the political system and the economy, hand in hand lurch to and fro without direction or order. "I or chaos", and the officials say and retract themselves in deed and in word. "I or uncertainty", and the only certainty is that the future will be incognito when it lands.

Second Deceit:

The image offered by the mirror of Power is a double image. On one side the image is inward, one which the Power gives to itself.

Arrogance testifies, in front of itself, its splendor. The image returns these words:

"We are the same, the eternal ones. There are less of us, but we are richer. The uncertainty of the future was supplied by importing sufficient doses of the past. Yesterday can be made today, all that is necessary is a modest investment in dollars and an appropriate public relations campaign."

For the Power, the present is a mirror which faces backward and is rearranged. It prefers not to look forward, the precipice causes vertigo.

But the Power is, also, an outward image, an image offered by the power for external consumption, international consumption. And what image does it offer the people of Mexico?

After all is said and done, it is the government of Mexico, no?

Well, there is nothing to worry about, that image will reach the country..through the foreign mass media!

Reports about the economic situation, about government plans, about domestic politics, about the pending assassinations, all will reach the people of Mexico through the foreign news agencies. The ordinary Mexican who wishes to know about the state of the economy, should not notice his salary, his purchasing power, the stability in his employment or in his finances, or in his quality of life.

Instead of that he should depend upon the declaration of officials..of other countries or international organizations!

The Power, or better said, neoliberalism made Power in Mexico has ended its struggle to legitimize itself before its constituents.

Now the mirror has a new trick.

It no longer needs to "reverse" the image of illegitimacy and "convert" it to legitimacy.

Now it must "impose" another image which erases or puts in second place the original one, an image called Legality. No longer able to win legitimacy, incapable of struggling to achieve it, the Power dresses itself with "legality". The legal mantle can do everything... including the violation of the law. That is how the mirror of Power works, with a legal although illegitimate image.

The common everyday citizen, in Mexico, should not wait for the government which (supposedly) he elected, to represent him and secure his well-being.

He should rather, be satisfied with a government-which-represents-the-law-which-represents-the- government-which-represents-the-law, ad infinitum in that bouncing of images from one mirror to another.

This is the Power: the tautological mirror. In its image, in the reflection it obtains of itself, the Power says:

"I exist because I am necessary,
I am necessary because I exist,
I exist and am necessary."

As the image it receives of itself is enough to satisfy itself, the Power believes it is enough, and once again the mirror in front of the mirror, eternal.

Parenthesis: The details in the image of the mirror.

(The alternation of power: change of reflective angles, but the same mirror).

Between populism and neoliberalism, between dinosaurs and technocrats, between the PRI and the PAN, the image of the power plays at finding its best angle, its most attractive one, its most efficient one.

The system is no stronger or weaker than yesterday. It continues in its contradiction and prepares itself to continue its mutation in order to remain the same and produce the same effect, secure for the power the reproduction of its image.

The right has always been a part of the mirror. It does not aspire to power via legitimacy, for the simple reason that they are already in power. But they have discovered that the images, due to so many reflections, are becoming scarce and deteriorating, are wearing away and begin to irritate the respectable. They stop being effective, become useless..and criminal. A new figure (which is not a new image, but, the movement of an existing detail to the front) is necessary; the alternation of power which is proposed is, in reality, the alternation of the images in the same mirror, the exchange of first and second planes in the details of the same image, the same mirror, of power...

The Salinistas of yesterday are the Panistas of today, and the dinosaurs of yesterday are the technocrats of today, crocodiles with postgraduate degrees earned abroad.

The year 2000 is not when the reflection is expected to change. Within the power is the whisper of voices that the actual image may not survive until the end of the century.

It is the image which is expiring. The mirror, that is, the Power, is eternal...


With nausea and terror, like someone who, upon awakening from a nightmare knows it will return, the Moon shakes its pale veil. Hollow-eyed and emaciated, it makes a gesture of disillusionment as it tells its tale of bouncing from one image to another, when, being a mirror herself, finally she managed to see herself in it...

Second Mirror

Chapter 2. -She chats about how there are many truths which are opposing forces, of how power contaminates with its cynical market-technology whomever opposes it, and of other deformed images in the modern mirror.

In the second mirror the opposition lives. In Mexico, to belong to the opposition is simple: it is enough not to belong to the PRI. But there is the opposition and then there is the opposition. The image, only two decades ago, of the legal political spectrum in Mexico was very simple: In the center was the PRI, to its right the PAN and to its left the PRI again, and sometimes the PPS. The PARM only played at being a party in some localities. To the extreme left was the rest of the opposition which remained unregistered and illegal. A decade later, various left organizations participated in the electoral struggle for power. The left place of the Mexican political geometry was fought over by various parties. At the center the PRI remained, fearless. In the center the PRI could move to the left or to the right, whatever was convenient for the mirror. But then the crisis arrives, and the crisis of the system is also that of the political parties. And there are no internal crises quite like those of the PRI, which, on the eve of the presidential elections of 1988, fractures. National Action [PAN] finds in the charismatic Maquio [Manuel Clouthier] the leader which it needs. The legal left is pulverized, and discovers that an internal alliance would not be bad. An ample front arises around a man whose surname is Cardenas, first name Cuahtemoc, and who possesses an austere face. The discontent, arising from the most diverse social sectors, bursts and is channeled into Neocardenism.

The social discontent becomes votes, and for the first time, the PRI is defeated in the electoral ballot boxes of the Presidency by an opposition force. But losing, and turning over power are two different things. Prodigious cybernetics produces fraud and the PRI wins by law and loses its legitimacy. The post- electoral protests are quieted as the new administration of the future candidate to Almoloya [Mexican prison], Carlos Salinas de Gortari, constructs around himself a giant mirror of lies. The electronic media helps him, as does the reactionary clergy, and great capital and the flag of the bars and muddled stars. "By a hair!" the power says, "It can't happen again! Let's get ready for 94!"

The front surrounding Cardenas Solorzano begins to receive the first blows and the satellites which are always there come loose. The ample opposition front rehearses to become a political party and is converted to the Party of the Democratic Revolution [PRD]. It is baptized by its own spilled blood; selective assassinations begin the fatal count which accompanies the Salinist campaign against Cuahtemoc Cardenas and the PRD.

Born in the midst of these attacks, the PRD at times appears to synthesize all the disadvantages of a front and all the disadvantages of a political party. The PRI past of some of its leaders become mirror once again in this effort to become an alternative to the system of the Party-state. Nevertheless, no one can deny that the PRD has achieved, at the cost of the lives of its own, to open an important space for political citizen participation. A good part of the small democratic space which now exists in Mexico is due to the PRD.

The best tribute to the character of the opposition force which is the PRD is constituted in the multiple attacks which it received from the power. The power fears it and attacks it always and by all means. Now the great thinking reactionary minds run over one another, to decree through their different analyses the death of this party which is the only registered party, that has value as an opposition party. In terms of Cardenas, not only the power pretends to declare him dead politically. His own party members try to get rid of him, but above all they try to do away with what he represents; intransigent opposition to authoritarianism.

Now the PRD is a prisoner in the most fashionable mirror: the struggle for the center. The legal left erases itself and tries to fight to conquer a space which everyone is grabbing. The PRI, the PAN, Manuel Camacho Solis, everyone wants the center. The center, they say, guarantees a transition with no pain, a stable alternation, a change..."without eruption". Within such an embattled space, the PRD does not have the best of chances. Nevertheless, the apparent purge between "dialogue-ists" and "intransigents" is in reality the struggle between those who aspire to conquer the center ( and repeat the electoral "victories" of National Action [PAN], and those who prefer the left because of vocation..and history.

And the left? Nothing legal aspires to occupy the vacuum which the PRD wants to leave. Nevertheless, that left exists. Its illegal character (which doesn't mean "clandestine") does not annul its political work and influence in regional spaces and in what is called "the critical junctures".

Both the legal and the illegal left however share a cannibalistic mirror, one which engulfs all that is nearby, and nevertheless suffers serious digestive problems: it spits up what it eats. All the left which considers itself worthy of its name is the vanguard. This means that there are so many vanguards that no one knows where to walk and no "contingent" exists to follow these vanguards. "Political realism" and cynicism are more than common places, they are articles of prime necessity. The new left professes the old left and the marks are the tiny mirrors of the great mirror of the opposition in Mexico.

Fragmented, confronting itself, the left opposition has the irrefutable honor of not having surrendered, of rising once again after each blow, of continuing to struggle (in spite of everyone and in spite of itself, and of believing that the revolution is necessary...and possible...


With anger, and frustration, the Moon leaves this reflection. Between the two mirrors a flash is perceived. With a clever pirouette, acrobat of both clouds and storms, the Moon manages to catch a sharp edge, and fling itself towards the reflection of...

The Third Mirror

Chapter 3.- To speak of the "people", those "without a party", of "civil society", of the "majorities", of the "waiting masses" who seek a "vanguard", of "society", and of all those names attributed to those who have no name, or voice, or face, and who are barely, a possible vote, a place in the contingency, a cry in the demonstration, a guard in the sit-in, a consumer, a television viewer, a radio listener, a reader, a number to add to the appropriate count..

The protagonists of the greatest mobilizations in the last years are those who have been most severely hurt by everything and everyone. The crisis and, above all, the "brilliant" administration of the crisis carried out by the neoliberal technocrats, is creating an unusual "politicizing" campaign which few revolutionary vanguards ever dreamed of. The stubborn economic reality which is ever more deteriorated plants in the minds and hearts the anxious desire for change. The electronic media shows inefficiencies: the illegitimacy of power has caught up with it and there are no television viewers who receive its Zabludovski, its Ferriz of Con, its Alatorre and radial equivalents without a certain dose of skepticism.

Something stinks up above, something is rotting. Its decomposition provokes everyday dramatic effects; the suicides increase. The economic crisis flows from the stock market, from the great banking centers and the specialty pages in the financial analysis publications. The economic crisis is lived on the tables of that majority which is called the "Mexican people". As they dress, as they eat, as they live, as they work, as they love, and even as they die, the crisis charges its quota. They must pay and in cash. The crisis achieves what any opposition front dreams about; it unites sectors and social classes which the "bonanza" separates, and often, confronts.

When May packs its things to leave and not return until next year, a note is lost in the newspapers.

The country lacks 19.2 million jobs. In 1995 1.2 million job seekers were added to the unemployed.

They add themselves to the 6 million unemployed and the 12 million sub-employed.

The PEA [Economically Active Population) ascends to 36 million (40 per cent of the total of Mexico). (SHCP)

At least 622,000 will lose their jobs in 1995. According to the SHCP, 436,191 were fired during the first trimester of the year.

According to the GEA (Associated Economists Group), the PIB [Gross Domestic Product] will grow at a rate less than 4.9 percent in 1995. In 1994, the minimum wage will lose 17.6 percent of its purchasing power in real terms. (La Jornada, May 1995).

But what the economy unites, politics separate. On the first of May of 1995 one of the greatest independent national mobilizations in the last decades takes place. It has two characteristics: One is that it was a protest against government politics, the other is that it did not have unified political direction. A great mobilization, symptom of great discontent. An absence of a unified direction, symptomatic of a missing "something"..

The re-named "people of Mexico" generates new and creative ways to speak. The death sentence for Mexican hope, synthesized in the phrase "the Mexicans tolerate anything", begins to lose validity. Hope begins, babbling, to rehearse its own words, to construct a new language, to create a new mirror, a new image...


The Moon comes out of the new mirror with a hope barely clinging to its hair. She departs reluctantly. Tired and numb with cold by the subtle rejection of the dawn, the Moon clothes herself in the ocean of the west.

It looks in the mirror of the waves and cleans its face with the salty water. Sleep and the ocean spray do not allow her to see that, far away, opens the..

Fourth Mirror

Chapter 4.-- Send, through the ocean of the east, a greeting to the men and women who, in Europe, discovered that they share with us, the same ailment: the illness of hope.

Instructions to see the fourth mirror:

Find any mirror, place it in front of you and assume a comfortable position. Breathe deeply. Close your eyes and say to yourself three times:

"I am what I am, a little bit, of what I could be. The mirror shows me what I am, the crystal what I could be."

Once this is done, open your eyes and look at the mirror. No, don't look at your reflection. Direct your look downward, to the left. Ready? Good, now pay attention and in a few moments another image will appear. Yes it is a march: men, women, children, and old people who come from the southeast. Yes, it is one of the highways which go to Mexico City. Can you see what is crawling on the left flank of the caravan? Where? There, on the ground! Yes, that tiny, black thing! What is it? A beetle! Now pay attention because that beetle is...

Subcomandante Marcos

(Tomorrow: "Durito IV! Neoliberalism and the State -Party system")

TRANSLATED BY: Cecilia Rodriguez, National Center of the National Commission for Democracy in Mexico, USA. June 1995.

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