Page 3


HEBERTO CASTILLO, at 59 and with gray hair and thick hornrim glases, looks more like the college professor he once was than a David trying to slay the Mexican Goliath the Revolutionary Institutional Party. The Party, generally known as the PRI, has not lost a presidential, senatorial or gubernatorial election in over 50 years of existence. In July, Castillo will challenge PRI presidential candidate, Carlos Salinas de Gortari, in Mexico’s general election. In 1961, Castillo, along with former Cuauhtdmoc, and novelist Carlos Fuentes, joined the National Liberation existence, the MLN was one of the broadest leftist coalitions in Mexican history. In 1968, as an engineering professor at the National Polytechnical University, Castillo actively supported students involved in the protest movement that was brutally crushed by the government on the eve of the 1968 Olympic games. Hundreds of students and activists lost their lives when the government turned its guns on protesting students in Mexico City’s Plaza de Tlatelolco. For his part in the protest, Castillo was jailed for two years. After leaving prison, he became the driving force behind the Mexican Workers Party merged with several other parties, including the Unified Socialist Party of This interview was conducted in October, in the PMT campaign bus as it toured Mexico City. Campaign stops were made in many neighborhoods destroyed by the 1985 quake. At several stops, the focus of attention was new housing built by self-help groups. Was choosing a candidate harder for the PRI this year than it was six or twelve years ago? No, since the president does the choosing, it was easy. However, this Philip Russell is a writer living in Austin. His fourth book, Mexico from Cortds to Salinas de Gortari, will be published by Texas Monthly Press. time there was an internal revolt by a group that did not accept this selection process. Members of this group, the Democratic Current, wanted a real primary election, not the usual farce. In this sense, it was more difficult this time, because six years ago everyone accepted the decision. Will there be public debate between the candidates of the various parties? I think so, at least between the opposition candidates. But we don’t know about the PRI. We don’t know if the PRI will accept a public debate. Will your party have access to television? Only a little. According to law, we get a little time, maybe one percent of what the PRI gets. Now we get 15 minutes of TV time a month, compared to the PRI, which gets several hours a day. What is the main way your party gets its message out? So far it’s been personal communication and flyers, painting walls, meetings, and rallies. Also many PMS members write for the press. I publish a column three times a week in the paper El Universal, and once a week in Proceso. Other party members have columns in La Jornada, Uno mds Uno, and Excelsior. Even though our members write in these papers, I still think the main means of communication is direct personal contact. Do you think the de la Madrid administration stole the 1985 gubernatorial elections in Chihuahua? I think there was a lot of vote fraud. I don’t know how much, but it’s evident there was fraud. Vote counting was crooked. We don’t know if it was decisive, but I do believe there was cheating. Then, what will you do if you feel you have won the elections next year, but the PRI claims its candidate won? We will call on the people to take over the government. We’d do this by work stoppages, strikes, not paying taxes, blocking highways, streets and plazas, in short, civil resistance. If your party becomes a real danger for the PRI, aren’t you afraid that there will be a slaughter as there was when the government broke up the 1968 student movement with gunfire? No, because, like God, we will be everywhere. As a result, it will be impossible to kill us all. And if you lose an honest election, what will your party do during the next six years? Well, we will keep trying so we can win the following election. But there is no reason to think that we will lose. Regardless of whether we win or lose the election, we’ll come out ahead. It will be an important victory. The Mexican Socialist Party will increase its membership, its numbers in the Chamber of Deputies and in cities. I am convinced, I’d even bet ten to one, that the party will have more than twice as many members after the elections as it does now. You said in your speech of September 14 that resolving Mexico’s economic crisis would mean providing Mexicans with “stable, dignified jobs. ” What would you do as president to achieve this? Mexico’s solution is to use the resources we have. Mexico has many unemployed workers. That is unused energy. Mexico has land and coasts; it has 10,000 kilometers of coasts. It has forests and fossil fuels. Our government could put these resources to work. We Mexicans could use the petroleum we have to produce renewable products from the sea and on land. However, we would have to have negotiations to get the resources to invest, since we would have to suspend the payment of the foreign debt. We would talk to the international banks and make them understand that we cannot continue paying the debt without a violent revolution breaking out in Mexico. And in order to avoid violence in Mexico it will be necessary to stop making debt payments. Then we could use that money to sow corn and beans, to produce meat, to produce fish, shrimp, oysters, to create jobs. A nation that produces, a nation that is at work, is a nation that develops industry and commerce. The main responsibility of the Mexican government is to its people. It’s not to international banks. Besides, a country like ours has to produce so it can consume. It should only export surpluses. Thus we should immediately quit exporting so much oil, and use it to make petrochemicals. In short, we would add more labor to raw materials, and we should give the people a bigger role. As you can see in this visit, self-management can produce things that people had never imagined. This hard-working nation can build A View From the Mexican Left Putting the People Before the Banks By Philip Russell 16 NOVEMBER 20, 1987