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From Mexico to Detroit: Austerity, its victims and its patrons

 Elena HerradaBy Elena Herrada

While traveling in Mexico during the political moment of the advent of the North American Free Trade Agreement, I was swept up in the national protests. There were millions of people protesting daily, shutting down intersections and living in encampments in the Zocalo, the plaza in the center of Mexico City. PEMEX workers of the national oil companies (petroleros) were waging a hunger strike in the plaza. Teachers were on a hunger strike for their students’ rights to have shoes. We learned quickly from the protesters in the plaza that the Mexican people were violently against NAFTA, but any media that attempted to give voice to its opposition would be shut down.

The Mexican people were infuriated about the loans, the legislation sponsored by multinational corporations like Monsanto, Walmart, etc., which they knew would send them into deep austerity and make them surfs of the U.S. banking system. Although we were there for vacation, the trip became a two-week intensive on the coming of NAFTA, the consequences it would have for the Mexican economy and the forced removal of the indigenous people from their communal lands. All of this and more came to pass, as free trade was only for corporations and people were left to starve or illegally migrate to the country that made off with their economy.

Detroiters know what it means to robbed by the state and then taken over and thrown into austerity because we are broke. This is akin to being raped, then murdered by the rapist for not being a virgin.

I write this lesson in an effort to explain the position the Detroit School Board is in under — the most ruthless, racist administration we have seen in our lives. We are forced to pay for our own children’s failure, while the mouthpiece media beats the drums for emergency managers and Mike Duggan for “mayor” — rather de facto emergency manager. It is essential to deconstruct the motives and follow money.

This is the counter narrative: Detroit cannot be understood through the lens of corporate media hired to be the public relations firms for the insatiable banks. Thus, we seek and speak truth. We understand that local media outlets — except the Michigan Citizen, Voice of Detroit and social media — are all we have to rely on to get a grain of truth.

Elected DPS board members were forced to vote on a resolution to approve $92 million loan, even though untold millions have gone missing and been funneled to the failing district without consent of those left to pay the bond back. Eventually, the EM will be gone and we will be left to govern what is left of the schools. We are preparing for this, and we know that we need the money to have schools. We can vote against ourselves or for ourselves, with no guarantee that the law will not change again to accommodate the bondholders. We repealed the law that enables this looting, only to be ignored. We remain in bondage to these arbitrary thieves.

EMs are not held liable for their decisions about the money of poor Black communities. No votes, no representation, no schools, no curriculum, no books; only debt and more debt. We are Haiti, we are Mexico, we are any of the countries looted by the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and by Jones Day law firm, which is actually our de facto EM now.

Duggan was in on the e-mails, discussions about the illegal and immoral takeover of our city, and now Detroit is forced to act like he will be our mayor. Endless lawn signs appear without consent (a recurring theme in Detroit). This is to give the illusion that Detroit wants Duggan to be mayor. Appropriation of graffiti of Duggan’s name on walls is meant to look like he is popular in the grassroots.

The only thing worse about being robbed and raped is the psychological warfare of acting like we are partners in this brutality. As if we want to be saved by the Jones Day looters and their stooges. Some of us are so uninformed, so misled, so colonized that we want Duggan to be our mayor and we want the nonprofits to replace our own elected council members.




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