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This Day in Resistance History: Peasants Shut Down Mexico City Stock Exchange in 1995

June 5, 2012

On June 5th, 1995, 2500 campesinos angered by the direction that the Mexican government was taking the economy, entered the Mexico City Stock Exchange and shut it down.

Mexico had succumbed to the structural adjustment polices of the IMF starting in the late 1980s, under the administration of Carlos Salinas. These policies of privatizing public services and dismantling any protections for Mexican businesses was followed by the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1993.

On January 1st, 1994, NAFTA went into effect and was greeted in Mexico by the indigenous uprising in southern Mexico of armed insurgents known as the Zapatistas.

Despite the IMF policies and the passage of NAFTA, the economy crashed in Mexico with the peso devalued significantly in just a few days. Outraged Mexicans from all sectors engaged in massive demonstrations and even a business group, known as El Barzon, took to the streets as NAFTA was wreaking havoc on the majority of Mexicans.

Small farmers or campesinos were hit the hardest, since NAFTA allowed for the US to flood the Mexican market with cheap, subsidized corn from the US. Small farmers could not compete and many of them left their land for the cities or migrated north to the US in search of employment.

Other campesinos joined insurgent groups in Chiapas and Guerrero, while others participated in other forms of resistance such as street protests and occupations.

The June 5, 1995 occupation of the Mexico City Stock Exchange was one of the many actions that Mexicans have taken to confront and resistance the political and economic system that serves the super wealthy in that country. Mexico saw the largest increase in billionaires from the mid-90s to the present than any other country in the world.

Earlier that year, the independent news sources CounterPunch had received a copy of a memo from Chase Bank, which stated:

There are three areas in which the current monetary crisis can undermine political stability in Mexico. The first is in Chiapas, the second in the upcoming elections and the third is the role of the labor unions, their relationship to the government and the governing PRI.”

The memo goes on to say:

“While Chiapas, in our opinion, does not pose a fundamental threat to Mexican political stability, it is perceived to be so by many in the investment community. The government will need to eliminate the Zapatistas to demonstrate their effective control of the national territory and of security policy.”

Just days after the campesino occupation of the Mexico City Stock exchange I attended a forum in Grand Rapids hosted by an ad agency on how to market your company in Mexico.

The forum was a disgusting display of US business arrogance, which featured a Comerica Bank economist who stated that the structural adjustment policies and the passage of NAFTA were only going to result in the “growth” of the Mexican economy. The question to always ask at this point is, from whom will the economy grow?

The Mexican economy continues to serve the super rich, while millions fall deeper into poverty. The June 5th occupation of the Mexico City Stock Exchange only last part of a day, but it is these kinds of actions that can lead to a greater uprising that can really challenge an economic system which benefits so few.

Like the Occupy Wall Street Movement, the Arab Spring and the uprisings in Greece and Spain, direct action always has the capacity to blossom into a full-scale revolution. We honor the campesinos, which acted in 1995 on this day!

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