Dismantling of the Constitution of 1917

On the numbers and contents of the retrograde anti-constitutional counter-reforms promoted by neoliberalism

Articles 3, 27 and 123 of the original Constitution of 1917 opened the historical horizon of social constitutionalism. They established the right to free primary education, the rights of the Nation over the territory, agrarian rights and labor rights, union rights and social security, as well as many others of a collective nature linked to the former. By constitutional and legal mandate, the authorities had to interpret and apply the classic liberal rights in harmony and without detriment to the new social rights. Also, private property was subordinated to the public interest, the use of natural elements susceptible to appropriation was oriented to the equitable distribution of public wealth and the State was responsible for mediating the differences or conflicts between capital and labor.

For decades, the fundamental duties of the Mexican State, the constitutional modifications and legislative innovations, had as practical support the political, cultural and legal recognition of the people as the holder of national sovereignty, source of public power and sense of its exercise. The social contents and the nationalist principles of the Constitution of 1917 were the pillars around which government policies were defined and, in particular, the normative policy of the postrevolutionary State. Finally, the institutional development of public life as a whole was guided by the achievement of social justice and the construction of participatory democracy.

However, neoliberal constitutionalism has meant the erosion, emptying or outright destruction and massive and systematic violation not only of economic, social, cultural and environmental rights, but also of multiple individual rights, as well as the loss of national sovereignty and the surrender from the territory and national wealth to large transnational corporations and their local partners.

Despite the official demand for the rule of law and the already caricatured doctrinal principles of supremacy, rigidity and constitutional inviolability, at the end of Felipe Calderón’s term of office, 205 decrees of constitutional reforms had been published in the Official Gazette of the Federation . During the dizzying government of Enrique Peña Nieto the figure has reached 220 decrees.

The Mexican Constitution is the fundamental Latin American norm, in force, with greater longevity; however, it is also the Constitution that has been reformed the most times. The first reform took place in 1921 and fell on article 73, which is the article that has been modified on more occasions, adding up to now 71 reforms. From major to minor, the most reformed articles in the history of the Constitution of 1917 are: 72, 123, 27, 74, 89, 107, 115, 4, 79, 94, 76 and 97. Paradigmatic articles of Mexican constitutionalism Twentieth century, like 3, 27 and 123, have been modified, respectively, in 9, 19 and 24 occasions. Article 130 has been amended only once, precisely during the tenure of Carlos Salinas de Gortari.

To date, the modifications to constitutional articles reach 605. The decree of reforms or additions to the most recent Constitution dates from July 7 of this year. In total and not counting the transitories, 109 constitutional articles have been modified, so only 27 have remained in their pristine state, they are: 8, 9, 12, 13, 23, 38, 39, 47, 50, 57 , 62, 64, 68, 80, 81, 86, 91, 118, 120, 121, 124, 125, 126, 128, 129, 132 and 136. That is to say, 80.15% of the constitutional articles have been modified, so that only 19.85% of the original articles remain intact. Each article, of the 136 that make up the constitutional text, has been modified on average 4,448 times. It should be noted that 4 of the 19 transitory articles that also make up the constitutional text have been modified. Also, on 4 occasions transitory articles of reform or addition decrees have been modified, all of them between 1999 and 2009. As a curious fact, in less than two days, article 4 was reformed three times: twice on October 12, 2011 and once again on the 13th.

Not counting the erratum or the reforms on transitory articles or the articles reformed more than once in the same period, the sexenios in which more constitutional articles have been modified were: Felipe Calderón’s with 61 articles through 36 decrees, the of Ernesto Zedillo with 47 through 18 decrees, Miguel de la Madrid with 44 through 18 decrees and Carlos Salinas with 35 through 15 decrees. If you include errata, reforms on transitory articles and reforms on the same article in the same sexennium, the numbers are as follows: Felipe Calderón 110, Ernesto Zedillo 77, Miguel de la Madrid 66 and Carlos Salinas 55. With In 19 decrees, Fox modified 31 articles (21 without counting the erratum or reforms on transitory articles or articles reformed more than once in the sexennium).

In 1994 Salinas modified 2 articles and Zedillo 27, making it until now the year in which most articles of the Constitution have been altered. Only that Salinas had already modified another 27 articles in 1993. In 1987 Miguel de la Madrid modified 18. In 1996 Zedillo changed another 22 and 17 more in 1999. In 2007 Felipe Calderón reformed 21 articles, 18 in 2008, 24 in 2011 and 20 in 2012. Peña Nieto modified 15 articles in 2013 and 20 in 2014. Between 1982 and 2014, only in the years of 1984, 1989, 1991 and 1998, no changes were made to the constitutional text. In 1999, 10 decrees of reforms or additions to the Constitution were issued. In 2007, as in 2013, 9 were issued. Of the 220 decrees of reforms that have been issued, 55%, 121, have taken place during neoliberalism, that is, in the last six six-year terms. In this period, on average, 20.16 decrees of constitutional reforms have been issued per sexennium. Needless to say, precisely these have been the decrees that formally imposed the mortal counter-reforms for the economic, political and cultural life of the Mexicans.

In the last 33 years the Constitution has been modified at an average speed of 3.66 decrees per year. In this same period, apart from the erratum, the reforms on transitory articles and the reforms on the same article in the same sexennium, constitutional articles have been modified 238 times. This means that, in the last six sexenios, the Constitution has been modified at an average rate of 7.21 articles per year. Enrique Peña Nieto has modified 30 articles through 15 decrees. If you include the erratum, the reforms on transitory articles and the reforms on the same article in the same sexennium, Peña Nieto has modified a total of 44 articles.

As part of the balance of this war against the Mexican Constitution, within the framework of the Mexico Chapter of the Permanent Tribunal of the Peoples, hundreds of cases have been documented and made visible that account for the accumulation of grievances that weigh on the population as a result of the retrograde anti-constitutional counter-reforms promoted by neoliberal governments. The adjustments of the fundamental law and the consequent legal adjustments have been consolidated from the disfigurement and dismantling of the social contents and the nationalist principles of the Mexican Constitution of 1917.

The violence that our country has suffered has not been sustained solely by the lack of observance of the laws or the lack of a legal culture that respects the rule of law. Neoliberalism not only violates the law and magnifies the distance between community and norm, but also legalizes violations of people’s rights, that is, promulgates juridical norms that establish staggered privileges and authorize generalized dispossessions for the purpose of to subordinate the public good to the particular interest of a few.

Neoliberal constitutionalism has canceled and reversed the historical achievements of the class struggle by restricting the role of the Mexican State as guarantor of the sovereign process of production, reproduction and development of social life. The fulfillment of the basic state obligations related to the agrarian distribution, the arbitration of social conflicts and the conciliation of class interests through the exercise of presidential attributions and social reformism, seems not only to have been put on hold, but denied in the absolute thanks to the preservation of the presidential power oriented to the subordinate transformation of the national economy, politics and culture. The recount of the constitutional alterations occurred in the last six sexenios reveals the details of the process.

Process Towards a Citizen-Popular Constituent

We have to facilitate the way for a new subject, that is truly community, that is a compact social community, capable of delegating among its social components, with all freedom and real consensus, those who represent in an authentic way the wishes and aspirations of the town.

In other words: Design the route to reach what we want our nation to be, but the road itself must be understood as the gestation of different scenarios, within the families, in the neighborhoods of the cities, in the colonies, in work environments, in ranches, in places, etc. Even when it is in the making, the context in which we place this process must guarantee the conformation of people with citizen quality, managers of the country that we wish to be.

We place ourselves in the dynamism that allows the continuous dialogue between the citizens, so that permanent educational processes are facilitated in the experience of a truly democratic regime, where everyone is provided equally, access to justice and security. and to peace, and each of us enjoy decent living standards.

The unifying axis of all this is what can be called an Alternative Constituent Congress, conducted in several stages. We design them from a prospective perspective, in such a way that the very process of their development is producing a model of citizenship that grows in their active participation in the political construction of the country.

It is not a question of arriving at any way and by any means to the objective of having a constitutional reform, achieved with the participation of a minimum part of the Mexicans, but it is necessary to take the steps with astuteness and the necessary times, to increase the political awareness of the totality of the citizens of the country.

It’s not about creating a few super-leaders and super-leaders, but that all Mexicans and Mexicans can truly participate, knowing what they want for themselves and for society as a whole, opening up more and more to the inclusion of people and groups most vulnerable, marginalized and excluded.

All voices and all aspirations are accepted and are included in the Constitution. In this way, our Magna Carta is truly the point of reference to combine the will of Mexico in respect for justice and the rights of all and of all, without exception.

Tentative itinerary of the Constituent Assembly
That everyone knows what we have of Constitution at this time. What remains in it really in favor of the progress of all Mexicans, and what has been cleverly reformed, that favors a few groups and people and harms the vast majority of citizens.

To design the methodology and to put the Constitution in the hands of our people, the first actors will be academics and specialists in constitutional law, in methods of citizen participation and in pedagogy and popular education.

It’s not about creating a small group to do this. We have to put to work universities and higher education centers across the country that freely want to join this transformation process.

It must be stated that it is a question of the Mexican people, in their totality, knowing the contradictions that exist within the Constitution and the measures that, based on constitutional laws, the federal government and state governments can take to expel from progress and of the dignified life to the citizens.

The next step will be to build an educational process so that the whole of society can contribute to the reconstruction of the constitutional text; For this we will have to demand a lot from the generation, in a differentiated way, of a path in which the different categories or sectors of citizens can contribute through their aspirations to justice and the welfare of their persons and their families and groups, the elements that serve for the construction of the integral legal body that Mexico needs at this moment.

This will not be in a general way, as we did in the first stage, but we will have to group the peasants, the indigenous people, the housewives, the students, the entrepreneurs, etc. in an orderly manner. to obtain sufficient information that is the basis for reconstructing the Constitution, taking into account what citizens are suffering, the injustices to which they are subject, the lack of functionality in the public service; We need laws that guarantee adequate justice processes. We have to let all sectors of the people express their needs and their complaints.

It is at this stage that a new country can be designed to open, in a dynamic and continuous manner, through the referendum and the referendum, citizen participation in the conduct of the country. It will also be the opportunity to introduce the revocation of the mandate and to update our Constitution with the principles of international law.

It is clear that also in this phase the presence of experts and experts is necessary to strengthen the contributions of our people. As in the revision of the Constitution, these specific groups that will have to be grouped into tables, distributed throughout the national territory, must have advisory services and sufficient means of information.

If we want to be successful, we must be many and many who commit ourselves to walk alongside the different sectors that sustain the whole life of the country.

In the same way as in the previous phase, this participation will not only serve to have a new Constitution, but to create awareness among the people of the capacity that the Constitution itself gives its own laws.

Taking the word of our people in this consultative process, broad and plural, your proposals should return to the hands of academics and experts, so that, having in their hands the results of critical review by the people, and contributions that he himself has provided to build a new Constitutional text, work on its wording.

At the end of this work, you must return to the hands of our people again organizing, by specialized sectors and categories, so that you can once again give your word on this Constitution.

In short, we can speak of three processes in which all our people have intervened in the preparation of our new Constitution: review and criticism of the previous one, contribution to its reconstruction, and a new revision of the text that has already been completed.

This path has generated a mature citizenship to take very seriously the leadership of their country with a truly democratic spirit in which each and every one of us Mexicans take responsibility for the life of our country.

This dynamism, in which we Mexicans have dialogued, we have met, we have helped each other and we have encouraged each other along this path, it has revealed among us the quality and the moral quality, the capacity for authentic political leadership, for dispose us, no longer through political parties, but in a new way: through different electoral districts, still in force in our Constitution, so that we can, by consensus, elect those people we want to represent us in the two chambers of the Congress of the Union.

At the same time that we choose a congress in a consensual manner, we will design the new way to integrate the government we want with the people we want to govern us. Article 39 of the Constitution recognizes the sovereignty that the people of Mexico have to give themselves, at the moment they decide, the type of government they want.

If we do not start working together as a single people, in this restoration of the country, we will continue to be servants of the political class, because each one gives us a little attention and with that we are satisfied, but nothing is solved .

Now we have to be the ones who must generate a different structure in a single way that is the revision of our Constitution, that is, the restructuring of the country from a comprehensive legal basis that is worthwhile.