Mobilizing Latin American Women for the Fightback against globalized Oppression: The Role of Religion in Mexico (and by implication,...

Ross Gandy
Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
Sunday, October 1, 2017

The unifying theme of this paper is that the intellectual left has crippled itself by its generalized hostility toward religion. I support this thesis with arguments drawn from several fields of knowledge.

Opression of women in Mexico : objective conditions

For globalized market society poor women are now the main target for superexploitation. In the traditional societies of Latin America the transnational corporations nail them to the cross of permanent poverty. The head of the women-in-development program of the Interamerican Development Bank whispers the secret: “Investing in women offers policymakers the highest economic and social returns at the lowest cost.” ( 1) This is because so many women are nearly helpless. 80 % of Mexican illiterates are women. (Globalized Mexico has cut spending on education.) One half of mothers have no man around in a country without any unemployment compensation whatsoever and few socially sponsored daycare centers. Globalization’s ” Washington consensus” has dismantled the fragile welfare state created by the Mexican Revolution. The revolutionary constitution has become dead letter: equal pay for equal work is not enforced and the minimum wage is a joke. One half of mothers are alone and most barely survive. Result: prostitution is institutionalized. The transnationals hire poor women to work in assembly plants where superexploitation takes place. The illiterate women who work in some maquilas of Ciudad Juárez have a vocabulary of only 300 words spoken in street jargon that only a few sociologists understand. No labor union. Thousands of women and children work like slaves in fields of tomatos for export, the migrant women who package the transnational tomatos in U.S. factories earn pittances, the women who serve the catchup in fast food restaurants have faces of despair. Many middle class Mexican women work a triple shift: all day at the office, all evening doing housework, all night on their backs. 40 percent of Mexicans believe that working women should stick to occupations like teacher or secretary, one out of three citizens thinks it normal that men make more money than women. Poor women suffer most from the Traditional Society: Spain lived seven centuries under Moorish occupation, then the Spanish conquistadors stamped Arab machismo on Mexico ’s cultural system. In this traditional society one out of five Mexican women have suffered violence from their husbands or their companion. (2) Rape is common, but women are blamed for the rape (in the Arab tradition). U.S. business illegally finances the election of neoliberal presidents who reinforce the Traditional Society (Fox kisses the Pope’s hand in Mexico , his government secretly pays rightist organizations promoting “traditional values.”) A governing figure roared in a public speech: “We must be careful not to let equality ruin the family”–in other words, wives and children obey your husbands. And another warned that “violence should not be considered a crime because that would put in jeopardy the union of the family”–in other words, when a husband beats a wife the law should look the other way. (3) In most of Latin America the traditional values maintain the penalization of abortion, the main means of birth control practiced by poor women. In Mexico almost half of hospitalized women are there because of complications due to illegal abortions! Death is common. The oppression of poor women is so obvious that it hardly needs documentation, but professional women also suffer discrimination. (4)

Opression of women in Mexico : subjective conditions

Salinas Pliego, the owner of Mexico ’s TV monopoly, is under fire from the Security and Exchange Commission in New York for criminal fraud. This criminal uses television, available to almost all of the poor, to help women internalize their own oppression. TV is rife with sexism and racism. Women are portrayed as sexual objects. In the teleplays and soap operas they are usually weak, they practice renunciation. They deny themselves and endlessly weep. There are more blondes on Mexican soap operas than in U.S. soaps. And the blonde and white are beautiful and bright, while the endless domestic workers slaving for them are dark. So Mexican women learn that brown is ugly and by implication that their misery is due to inferiority. Arab machismo has been internalized by many poor Mexican women. Some even say their husbands have a right to beat them. In elections husbands often mark their ballots for them. Women lack consciousness of their civil rights, basic rights and human rights. The Base Christian Communities struggle to convince women that they have rights. The male Catholic hierarchy threatens with excommunication women who abort. But the Mexican organization “Catholics for the Right to Decide” raises consciousness and works to legalize abortion. Nobody is calling for abortion as such, but the movement argues that the police must keep their noses out of the matter. “Catholics for the Right to Decide” is an international organization with a Mexican section.

Religiosity of women in Latin America

In Latin America women are far more religious than men. There is an ironic saying among free thinkers that “religion is a secondary sexual characteristic of the female.” This is because religion consoles them for their suffering, but also because it can inspire them with endurance and even resistance to oppression. In Mexico ’s Tradtional Society the subculture of the underclasses defines women’s role as a religious one. The less education women have, the more religious they are. (5) The Catholic Church has adherents in every social class, but more among the poor than anywhere else–especially poor women. There is a red light zone in every town and the poor who practice the oldest profession say, “We don’t do this because we want to but because we have to.” These desperate women are religious too. Prostitution flourished everywhere throughout the Catholic Middle Ages and was tolerated and regulated by law. St. Augustine accepted it “as a necessary evil.” The tendency continues to this day in many Catholic countries. In Mexico some brothels close when the women go to church to honor the patron saint of all prostitutes.

Capsule History of Radical Christianity

Scholars see Jesus’ movement as revolutionary, he was executed as a rebel against Rome . The first Christians were communists. “And all that believed were together, and had all things common…and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need” (Acts 2:44 , 4:35 ). For three centuries early Christianity put the rich in hell and the slaves in heaven: a new note in world history. Before this in the afterlife kings remained kings and their slaves, slaves. The subversive Christian doctrine was persecuted by Rome . In 313 Constantine ended the persecution and Christianity soon turned into the state religion. From then on, the original gospel was often stamped as heresy. In 385 the Church executed Bishop Priscilian of Trier , who worked in the liberationist current. But some who remained true to the original ideal were canonized. Among Church Fathers who defended communism were St. Cyprian (d.258), St. Ambrose (d.397), St. John Chrysostom (d.407), St. Zeno of Verona , and the communist author of the Fifth Epistle of Clement. The monastic movement and its orders of monks, sisters and friars kept communism alive throughout the Middle Ages. From the eleventh century onward, groups of lay people also lived in quasi-monastic communities, having all things in common. Throughout the Middle Ages the heresies against the landowners’ Church tried to revive the original gospel of the anarchist Jesus. The gospels were available only in Latin and the life of Christ remained a secret to most. When Luther translated the Bible, the peasant war exploded against the ruling classes. Jesuits and Franciscans founded communist societies among indigenous peoples of the Americas , and Bishop Bartolomé de las Casas argued that the “Indians” should rise in revolution against the Spanish conquistadors. Western communism orignated in the doctrine of Christ; the Bible was the main source of communist ideas in the West. The notion that Marx invented communism is a falsification of history. The Wycliffites, the Taborites, the Diggers, Moore , Morelly, Weitling preached communism. Engels described Weitling’s egalitarian communism as the “first independent theoretical striving of the German proletariat.” Weitling believed that nineteenth century communism was the heir of the social dectrine of early Christianity. He called for “the overthrow of the rich and the oppressors…the abolition of property as the necessary condition for putting the teaching of Jesus into practice.” (6) Marx and Engels began as militants in his procommunist organization.

Liberation theology

In the twentieth century the original gospel has surged up again in the form of liberation theology. Liberation theology is often dated from Gustavo Gutiérrez’s La Teología de la Liberación published by Sígueme in 1974. Some of these theologians accepted a Marxist class analysis of society but combined it with their interpretation of Christ as revolutionary. For them, Christ preached that the kingdom of God was at hand and that it would be a realm of equality and freedom established on this earth. Jesus himself was an apocalypticist who thought that God was about to end history and establish the kingdom. Meanwhile, he preached that the faithful should begin constructing the kingdom immediately by sharing with one another. For liberation theology, we must begin building the kingdom now in history along the lines of freedom and equality. The Church must be democratized and governed from the bottom up, the economy reorganized to end exploitation. The Vatican has seen this theological current as subversive and tried to crush it–with some success. Angelo Sodano, the Secretary of the Vatican , admires fascism. There are photos of a smiling Sedano beside Pinochet during his reign of terror in Chile .

Base Christian Communities

In Mexico the movement of 15,000 Base Christian Communities with 250,000 participants arose in the 1970s. Small groups of 15 or so met to read St. Luke’s gospel. (In Brazil there were 300,000 of these communities.) Most of the participants and leaders are women, some are men. They are occasionally led by liberationist priests. Franciscans and Dominicans have founded some. There are popularizations of liberation theology. The conscientization of women is fundamental. Centuries of machista oppression have given many poor women a slave mentality. They learn that they have basic rights, civil rights, human rights. The Base Christian Communities learn that power does not lie in political parties but in the unity of the organized people. They struggle to get for their communities electricity, water, paved streets, medical dispensaries, better primary schools, people’s administration, land tenure, cooperatives. They work to free jailed peasant activists. They try to close bars and brothels that corrupt the young. They support strikes and actions by political parties if they defend the people. This year, for example, the Base Christian Communities supported the strike of the teachers’ unions and the health workers in Chiapas with mobilizations and fasts. “Don’t give up,” they prolcaimed to the strikers, “because justice is on your side.” (7)

Marxism and intellectuals against religion

In the nineteenth century Mexican intellectuals were disciples of Juárez and fought religion, in the twentieth century they have been disciples of Lenin. He misinterpreted Marx’s dictum that religion is the opium of the people. Marx was merely quoting Bishop Charles Kingsley, an English Christian socialist, who first called religion the opium of the people at a time when the drug was used as an anodyne in every hospital. But writing half a century later Lenin thought that Marx meant opium as if it were booze . (8) So Communists in power persecuted religion. The Marxist left has alienated Latin Americans by its hostility to religion. For decades Mexican Communists marched singing “We don’t want authority: neither the State, nor the bourgeoisie, nor God.” Many left parties have used the hammer and sickle or red stars and flags for emblems (which sociological surveys show that the Mexican people hate as representing an atheistic police state in the east). (9) Surveys reveal that 90 percent of Mexicans say that they would not like to live next door to somebody on the Left. They say that Marx was against religion and the family. Here we have one of the reasons for the Marxist Left’s record of failure in Latin America –the Catholic continent. (There are others, such as Washington ’s co-option of Marxist movements or terror against them.) But Che Guevara once remarked that “when we get the Church on our side in Latin America , we have won.” Communist Party members like Rubén Jaramillo, who kept their Party membership a secret and preached to the masses from the Bible, had enormous success in agitation and organization. Rubén was an ordained minister. He was a member of the Party when he was assassinated by the Mexican government in 1962.

The political right’s use of religion

Latin American ruling classes finance Catholic movements such as Opus Dei, founded by the Spanish Fascist priest José María Escrivá, which penetrates universities, media, the government. They preach the theology of domination: in this life you must obey the authorities and you will be rewarded in the next. In 1941 the darkly reactionary Mexican priest Marcial Maciel founded the Legionaires of Christ order, teaching the theology of domination. Maciel’s order attracted huge sums from the rich and now has universities, schools and seminaries in 20 countries. Proud Mexican conservatives started a movement to have Father Maciel declared a saint. The Vatican opened an investigation of this priest. It turned out that his victims’ lawyers are accusing him of multiple crimes! (10). The Coca Cola millionaire Vicente Fox waved the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe at the masses while campaigning for the presidency. He is regularly shown in the media at mass (but never the ending, since he is excommunicated). The Mexican ruling class is almost as religious as the Italian mafia in Palermo . The Mexican authorities secretly contributed millions to the construction of the Basilica at Tepeyac, where the Church preaches that the Virgin is a Santa Claus, always ready to give something to penitents. 15,000,000 poor Mexicans visit her shrine every year, many are begging for help. In Saltillo over the door where the workers enter and leave the CINSA factory I saw an image of the Virgin of Guadalupe with the caption SHE DOESN’T LIKE STRIKES! After stealing the 1988 election from the populists, neoliberal President Salinas made a secret deal with the Church authorities and they used their influence to get the enraged masses to stop demonstrating against the electoral fraud. (11) The rightist administration now in power openly supports the Basílica at Tepeyac with money (and this in a lay State). Studies show that the richest social strata are almost as religious as the poorest (this is so for opposite reasons). (12) Much of the Left gayly hands God to the reactionaries, so that they can define the Deity as the GREAT POLICMAN IN THE SKY and force the masses onto their knees.

Practical suggestions about the use of symbols in political appeals

JESUS – The political right keeps the life of Jesus a secret, it always shows him as a baby in the arms of the Virgin or hanging on the cross. As the Christian movement was converted into a landowners’ Church during the fourth century there was an explosion of creeds that ran like this: “Jesus Christ our Lord was born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontias Pilate, was crucified dead and buried. He descended into Hell. The third day he rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and now sits on the right hand of God the Father Almighty. From thence he shall come to judge the living and the dead.” Jesus comes down to get born, dies on the cross, zooms down to Hell, then back to earth, then up to heaven, and finally comes again. He zooms up and down the three levels of the universe like a superstar. But what he did and said in Palestine is a secret. You have to know that secret and tell it. Every political activist should read Jesus, a Revolutionary Biography by John Dominic Crossan, published in New York by HarperCollins in 1995. Or if you know Spanish, José Porfirio Miranda, Comunismo en la Biblia, published by Siglo XXI in México City in 1981. Every activist should learn a few verses of St. Luke’s gospel, such as:

“He that has two coats, let him give to him that has none, and he that has food, let him do the same” (Luke 3:11 ).

“You cannot serve both God and riches” (Luke 16:13 ).

“Blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of God ” (Luke 6:20 ).

“It is easier for a rope to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God ” (Luke 18:25 ).

The theology of domination presents Jesus as meek and mild, the Prince of Peace. This is a falsification of history. Jesus came to foment class struggle: “Think not that I came to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace but a sword” (Matthew 10:34 ). His attack on the money changers in the temple could only have been carried out while leading a band of armed men. (Luke 19:45) The language of Jesus is violent and promotes dissension: “I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter in law against her mother in law” (Matthew 10:35 ) Daughters-in-law have always hated their mothers-in-law without Jesus’s help, but the point is that he liked conflict. One of his twelve disciples was Simon, a member of the revolutionary guerrilla movement of the Zealots (Luke 6:15 ).

VIRGIN OF GUADALUPE – The dark Indian Virgin was on the flags of the Mexican insurgents in their struggle for liberation from Spain. The leader of the insurgents, Father Morelos, decreed that on the 12th of every month there be fiestas honoring the Virgin throughout the liberated territories. His political program declared for a land reform and shooting all the Bishops. Morelos was an orthodox Catholic. When Marcos was secretly organizing the Mayas for their insurrection, he lectured them on the history of Mexico , emphasizing the struggles of Morelos and Zapata. The image of the Virgin was on the sombreros of the zapatistas in their struggle for the land during the Mexican Revolution. She is flaming above the door to the Museum of the Interventions, which tells the story of Mexico ’s centuries-long struggle for survival. She is not Santa Claus. She is not a suffering Madonna to be imitated by falling on your knees. Read a book on Mexican history and learn how to interpret the symbols.

JUAN DIEGO – The dark Virgin did not appear to Cortez or to Bishop Zumárraga, but to the poor Indian Juan Diego. When the poor Galilean peasant Mary heard the annunciation, she said, “My heart is overlowing with praise of my Lord. For he has deigned to notice me, his humble servant. He has shown the strength of his arm, He has swept away the high and mighty. He has set kings down from their thrones and lifted up the humble. He has satisfied the hungry with good things and sent the rich away with empty hands ” (Luke 1). Mary meant that God was taking the side of the poor against the rich. Her own appearance to the barefooted Indian meant the same thing. Now that the Pope has canonized Juan Diego, the Mexican rich are aware of this symbol as dangerous. So the Church hierarchy has recently put a beard on him (indigenous people don’t have them) and colored him white! In the fertile imagination of the reactionary Bishops he is now proclaimed to be an Aztec aristocrat! Do you want to see for yourself? Next time you visit the center of Mexican Catholicism, the Cathedral on the Zócalo in Mexico City , check out the chapel of the Virgin of Guadalupe on the right side of the nave: a bearded, white Juan Diego, holding the tilma, is gazing upward at the Queen of Heaven.

Are we going to let them get away with this?

COOPERATIVES – “Socialism” means atheism to the majority of Latin Americans. “Cooperativism” is better. Don’t mention Marx. Talk of Christ. Any political formation should avoid the word “socialist.” Scholars in Mexico ’s major think tank, El Colegio de México, assured me that the PRI-government’s sociological surveys done in the 1970s revealed that the Mexican people hate the word “socialism.” Then the government hid the studies, so that the Marxist Left would go on using the word and ruining itself. (13) The Left did indeed continue to do that, and even goes on using the term after 1989! The academic Left in the universities of Mexico can’t do sociological studies and find out what the Mexicans are like? The answer is that the Marxist academic Left is academic, in other words, not in touch with reality. In 1962 while marching with the Young People’s Socialist League in Houston I was told by a worker wearing a hard hat; “I don’t want socialism, I want the workers to take over the factories and a people’s government.” From then on, I started using the populist language of SDS before it drifted off into Leninism in 1969.

The Frente Auténtico de Trabajo, the cooperativist movement in Mexico with 300,000 members, was founded in 1960 by Catholic socialists. This Christian “Frente” has had more success in organizing an independent labor movement than many Marxists. Let us speak of cooperatives, of t he decentralization of economies, co-operative production, simplified technology, agrocities, self-sufficient communities that trade only for necessities, participatory democracy on regional levels. We can describe our ideal world without using the tainted terms of the Cold War–”capitalism” and “socialism”.

Well, then, if not “socialist”, what should a political movement call itself? How about such names as “Tácticos para la Acción Constitucional Organizada”? (Translation: Tacticians for Action Constitutional Organized.) TACO The program? Law enforcement. Enforcement of Constitutional Article 123 which declares that every business must share profits with the workers. We want 99 percent. Article 27 declares that “the State has the right to give to private property whatever forms the public interest demands.” So let’s nationalize television, then banking, then the commercialization of tortillas. The government is a band of criminals (a criminal violates laws) because it violates the highest law of the land–the Constitution. Article 123 declares that there must be a national minimum wage that satisfies the social, economic and cultural needs of the family. Since the minimum wage is only four dollars a day, the governing crminals should be arrested at once in the name of the law. The movement’s emblem? Why a huge TACO, of course, stuffed with basic goods.

SIN – In Mexico the catechism declares tax evasion to be mortal sin. In Mexico the rich hardly pay taxes. So the State has little money for schools and health. A tax reform would be another Revolution. The evading rich can be denounced as sinful. Let’s take these sinners down, just as Jesus chased out of the temple the cheating money-changers. The rich are criminals!

THE CHURCH – Some Catholics believe that there is no salvation outside the Church. So how can we handle the sensitive question of criticizing the conservative Catholic hierarchy?

Cardinal Norberto Rivera has a flashy lifestyle and has closed the seminary of the southeast that taught priests liberation theology. Naturally we want to expose him for his wickedness. But it is wise to exercise caution when speaking against the Church hierarchy in the presence of poor Catholics. Many of the women respect the local Bishop as an authority, no matter how wicked we may know that he really is. If it is necessary to criticize a repressive prelate, it should always be done with references to the gospel.

To the press the Bishop of Ecatepec, Onésimo Cepeda, has made enthusiastic pronouncements in favor of ruthless capitalist globalization, but on television he explains the meaning of the Holy Spirit with stunning charisma. I have heard women who can’t pay their bills praise him as a wonderful man. These women don’t read the newspapers and would not understand the word “globalization” if they did. Onésimo continually makes news with praise of the neoliberals, but at the university I’m careful to attack him with reference to papal encyclicals like Laborens Exercens, which defends the dignity of labor. The Pope has repeatedly condemned the capitalist globalizers as pitiless exploiters. Onésimo likes silk shirts, Italian wines and big cars. He is an enemy of the poor. Onésimo, say I, is a heretic.

From 1983 to 1987 reactionary Bishop Juan Posadas Ocampo persecuted the liberationist movement in Cuernavaca , working to have radical priests expelled from the country and transferring them from Cuernavaca to remote villages where they had little effect. Our liberationist community took the line that he was a man who had strayed from the gospel and should be converted to Christ. Efforts were then made to convert him. When these failed, stronger measures were adopted. A poor cook named Adela walked down the aisle of the Cathedral during prime mass with a big sign saying, “Monseñor Posadas, if you don’t change you´re going to hell.” She stood in front of the gaping congregation for several minutes, then walked to the right side of the nave where the words of Christ were engraved in golden letters, “Blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of God” and stood beside them silently during the Bishop’service. In 1987 the Pope rewarded Posadas for making war against us by promoting him to Cardinal. He lived in a mansion given him by the millionaires and was chaufered about in another gift, a Gran Marquís Blanco, the kind of car the mafia drives. In 1993 he was chauffered into the Guadalajara airport in his mafia car when two gangs of narcotraffickers were shooting at one another. It was the wrong kind of car to be in. The Chapo Guzman gang mistook him for one of their opponents in the Felix Arrellano mob and put fourteen bullets in his heart.

(This is a better proof for the existence of God than Anselm’s ontological argument.)

Why did the Pope reward wicked old Posadas ? Well, John Paul II is a Pole and sees Marx as a Soviet oppressor . He panicked when he detected a Marxist strain in liberation theology. But the Pope comes from a working class family and sympathizes with proletarian struggles. He has spoken out of both sides of his mouth about liberation theology. He wrote to the Brazilian Bishops, “You and ourselves are convinced that liberation theology is not only timely but useful and necessary.” (14) Since most Catholics respect the Holy Father, we emphasize his positive side and ignore his slips into sin.

A few people on the Left attacked Samuel Ruiz, the famous Bishop of the Indians who repeatedly risked his life to defend the poor, because he is against birth control and for penalization of abortion. A better tactic is to show solidarity with Samuel Ruiz’s defense of the poor and ignore his condemnation of condoms.

When it is necessary to criticize someone like Pius IX (the most reactionary Pope of modern times), do it in terms of Christianity. Once when speaking to the faithful about Pius’s opposition to democracy, I appealed to Dante, who is the greatest of all authorities on hell. Dante says that several Popes are on the eighth level of the Inferno. I claimed that Pius is on the ninth level. (God told me that in a dream.)

Throughout European history the underlying classes held the theory that the king is the fountain of justice but he is surrounded by wicked ministers who deceive him so that he does not know how the people suffer. I sometimes apply this theory to the Pope. Pope John Paul II ascended the throne of Saint Peter proclaiming encyclicals in favor of labor against capital. But he fell under the influence of the Roman Curia, men like Angelo Sodano, the Secretary of the Vatican who admires fascism, or Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. When the theology of liberation burst upon the world Ratzinger was attracted to it, but the terrorism of Italy ’s Marxist Red Brigades frightened him into a reactionary stance. As head of the Inquisition he became the liberationists repressive opponent. I hesitate to criticize the Holy Father himself, who is looked upon by Mexicans with awe, but I mercilessly criticize the German Ratzinger and the Italian Sodano as traitors to Christ. The Pope is a good man, say I, but he is surrounded by wicked ministers who deceive him.

An example. As the twentieth century closed, the famous liberationist Bishop Samuel Ruiz, often threatened with death and wounded by rifle fire from the cattle barons who oppress the Indians, reached obligatory retirement at the age of 75. Church rules declared that his co-Bishop, a liberationist Dominican, must succeed him. So the PRI-government secretly connived with the fascist Secretary of State in the Vatican , Angelo Sodano, to violate those rules and replace Samuel Ruiz with a reactionary Bishop. An honest element in the government warned us of the plot. We called the Base Christian Communities in Italy and they went secretly to Pope John Paul II and demanded help. The Pope answered, “All right, but don’t tell Sodano.” He then directly appointed Monseñor Felipe Arizmendi, a priest with pastoral experience among the indigenous peoples, as Bishop of San Cristobal. You see? If God does send the Pope to Hell for his slips into sin against the people, his Holiness will be placed on the first level where he can spend eternity arguing with Plato. (John Paul II wrote his doctoral thesis on Martin Heidegger.) Other members of the Curia like Angelo Sodano and the Spaniard Julián Herranz (a militant of Opus Dei founded by a fascist priest) will roast on the ninth level.

Yes, yes, I know that in 1998 Rome took fire out of hell, but in a dream God assured me that he has reserved a special fire for the Roman Curia.

* * * * * *

If you say to me, “Ross, I’m an intellectual, I can’t do all these things. Besides, I’m on the Left. I lack a sense of humor. I can’t dream.” Maybe you can’t. If not, your problem may be one of the causes for any possible failures you may suffer while during political work in Latin America or with latinos in the USA .. If you say, “But I don’t believe in a sky god and I don’t believe that the Galilean prophet was born of a virgin.” Well, we are not talking about our Weltanschauungen but about the use of symbols. The great theologian Paul Tillich did not believe in any of these things either and claimed that “the only non-symbolic thing we can say about God is that God is Being itself.” You believe the universe is there, don´t you? Then you belive in Being. Spinoza and Einstein wrote that the mathematical structure of the universe filled them with awe and named it “God.”

All the rest is symbols.

*Ross Gandy is author of Mexico , the End of the Revolution , (with Don Hodges) Praeger, 2002; Conceptos culturales para la comprensión de México, Cuernavaca , 2000; Marx and History, University of Texas , Austin , among others.


( 1 ) Mayra Buvinic, “Women in Poverty: a New Global Underclass.” Foreign Policy, Fall, 39.

( 2 ) Source on discriminatory attitudes: a careful national survey done by the Consejo Nacional para Prevenir la Discriminación , La Jornada, 14 de mayo de 2005. Source on traditional society: World Economic Forum in Davos, Women’s Empowerment: Measuring the Global Gender Gap ranked nations according to inequality of opportunities between men and women and put Jordan , Turkey , Pakistan and Egypt at the bottom with the Latin American countries. Mexico was last. Source on violence: A study by the World Health Organization reported by Carolina Gómez Mena on February 15, 2005 en La Jornada.

( 3 ) See the report by Gabriela Rodríguez on the Congreso Internacional de la Familia in Guadalajara , organized by the political Right, in La Jornada, February 18, 2005 .

( 4 ) A study by the International Labor Organization reports that professional women, including many in administrative posts, suffer discrimination in the form of less salary and slower promotions than men–on an average. Laura Poy Solano, La Jornada, February 6, 2005.

( 5 ) Roderic Ai Camp, Cruce de espadas: política y religión en M éxico, México, D.F., Siglo XXI, 1997, 179-180.

( 6 ) Both quotes can be found in Donald Hodges, The Literarate Communist, New York : Peter Lang, 1999, p. 18.

( 7 ) Miguel Concha Malo, La Participación de los cristianos en el proceso popular de liberación en México, México, D.F., Siglo XXI, 1986. “Bases eclesiales respaldan paro de maestros”, La Jornada, 20 de mayo de 2005.

( 8 ) Lenin writes: “Religion is opium for the people. Religion is a sort of spiritual booze, in which the slaves of capital drown their human image, their demand for a life more or less worthy of man” Socialism and Religion, Collected Works, volume 10. But when Bishop Kingsley coined the phrase about opium, he was making the correct sociological observation that religion helps the workers to bear their suffering.

( 9 ) Alan Riding, Vecinos Distantes, México, D.F., Joaquín Mortiz, 1985, p. 132.

( 10 ) Jason Barry, Votos de silencio, Mexico, D.F., Plaza y Janés in Mexico City, 2004.

( 11 ) Michael Tangemen , Mexico at the Crossroads: Politics, the Church, and the Poor, Maryknoll, Orbis, 1994, 69-82.

( 12 ) Roderic Ai Camp, Cruce de espadas, p.180

( 13 ) You can find a reference to these studies in Alan Riding, Vecinos Distantes, 132.

( 14 ) Quoted by María Teresa Jardí in La Jornada, August 23, 1994