Contemporary struggles and colonial legacies in Mexico and the Philippines


Contemporary struggles and colonial legacies in Mexico and the Philippines


On August 3, 2018, Maya from AKMK - Mindanao Tri-People Youth for Peace (Philippines) and Mafer from the feminst group Voces de Lilith and PRT - Revolutionary Worker's Party, discussed similarities and differences between Mexico and the Philippines and the conditions for political struggle. The point of departure for their presentations was, that Mexico and the Philippines share contemporary and historical conditions: Both endure militarization and brutalization of social relations in context of war on drugs; both are being used as laboratories of neoliberal structural reforms; agroindustry and overexploitation of natural ressources is a major problem in both Mexico and the Philippines leading to further impoverishment and displacement of especially indigenous peoples; and the countries have been colonized for centuries by first Spain and then by US intervention and hegemony.

Maya and Mafer gave examples from the histories of their countries, including the displacement and marginalization of indigenous populations starting with Spanish colonization hundreds of years ago. The development resulted in the creation of local elites and racial hieararchies that still condition Mexican and Philippine society. In the Philippines, a policy of internal colonization was continued way into the 20th century with settlements of northern Christian Filipinos moving to the southern island of Mindanao, further marginalizing indigenous people – moros and lumads – and creating the basis for lasting social and political conflict that still today haunts the island.

In both countries, the central government carries out a repressive and authoritarian rule, criminalizing social protest and militarizing the country, resulting in increasing levels of violence in everyday life. In Philippines, the entire island of Mindanao is now under Martial Law, and in Mexico a new Interior Security Law gives the military constitutional power and impunity to terrorize the population. By the end of the meeting, the prospects and significance of international solidarity was discussed. Mafer gave the example of the 43 teacher students who were kidnapped and disappeared by military forces in Guerrero, September 2014. This is by no means the most horrifying event in Mexico, were particularly women as well as social activists and indigenous leaders are rutinely murdered and disappeared, and mass graves uncovered – a situation that the so-called war on drugs since 2006 has aggravated. Because of massive social protest and international solidarity, the government of Mexico has however been put under a lot of pressure on the case of the missing 43 teachers students. This points to the importance of coordinated campaigns and international solidarity to combat the impunity of repressive governments.

The meeting was co-hosted by International Socialistisk Ungdomslejr (ISUL) and Internationalt Forum