At an interesting event last week at the Center for US-Mexican Studies, a number of YoSoy #132 activists spoke about their visions for the movement going forward. The rather amorphous and wholly spontaneous anti-PRI/anti-Peña Nieto movement that emerged during the elections has clearly struggled to find its footing in the post-electoral environment. While it is heartening that YoSoy #132 has decided not to adopt an obstructionist stance–there is no official AMLO-esque refusal to recognize Peña Nieto as president–the movement lacks a clear set of objectives. In short, they can more easily define what they are not than what they are. The parallels to the Occupy Movement are therefore striking and obvious, and run rather deep. On the positive side, both groups seem to represent a new style of political engagement, both groups are heavily youth-oriented, and both groups rely on digital social networks to maintain a semblance of coherence among geographically disparate and ideologically diverse supporters. But, more significantly, YoSoy #132 has the same potential problems as Occupy: they refuse to designate leaders and seem largely unable to formulate concrete programs or demands, and they run the risk of alienating or losing the broader popular support that made them important in the first place if they become too radicalized or strident.
There are, I think, two potential paths for YoSoy #132:
First, and perhaps most likely, the movement becomes a generalized anti-government protest group, joining the others that have become regulars on Mexico’s political protest circuit (Atenco, Madres de la Guarderia ABC, etc etc). There is some evidence that this is already happening. The “anti-neoliberal” faction in YoSoy #132 certainly pulls the group in this direction and toward an older, and probably less meaningful, variety of youth activism.
The other option is that YoSoy #132 becomes a 21st-century version of Alianza Cívica, the movement that helped create an oppositional political consciousness during the last decade of the PRI.* Some of the activists at the USMEX event spoke of their desire to work toward raising the consciousness of the population, but my suspicion is that the “Occupy Problems” I mentioned above will make that difficult to achieve – quite simply I don’t see abstract activism having any staying power without a coherent, programmatic objective.
It’s important to note that the movement is only beginning to define itself in the post-election world and the commitment of its members to political engagement is impressive; I do not want to dismiss the movement perfunctorily but I do believe there is reason for skepticism about its longer-term impacts.
*Alianza Cívica now exists as an NGO and remains active in Mexican political life.