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#TheOccupation of Wikipolitics: A Collective Commitment to Democratic Reinvention in Mexico

Image from the press kit available at laocupación.org. Reproduced with permission.

The Mexican city of Guadalajara recently hosted a festival called “The Occupation” — one of several initiatives helmed by the pro-democracy collective Wikipolitics Jalisco in order to find collective solutions to problems afflicting society.

Widely assorted local, national, and international organizations, as well as civil society, academia, and citizenry gathered in Guadalajara, Jalisco, from August 30 to September 2 to share their experiences in social and political participation.

We have to organize in order to get more people get excited about politics and realize they aren’t alone. #LaOcupación (#TheOccupation)

Such has been the message of #FueroNoJuicioSí (#JurisdictionNoJusticeYes), an expression in support of eliminating constitutional protections from prosecution for serving politicians and #SinVotoNoHayDinero (#NoVoteNoMoney), which seeks to shrink public resources that political parties use and abuse. The Occupation forms part of Wikipolitica’s agenda as a progressive, innovative movement bolstering citizen participation, dialogue exchange, and collective intelligence.

At its forefront is Mexican activist Pedro Kumamoto, who in 2015 became the first independent candidate to win a seat in Jalisco's state congress.

The Occupation emerged amid visible consternation and disappointment about the excesses and general rotten behaviour of Mexico's body politic as a crucial space to bolster a different kind of politics.

Participants are committed to “citizenizing” the public, and exerting public control over places and topics that have been dominated by worn-out political parties and policies.

As Roberto Castillo, member of the Mexico City Wikipolitica chapter, wrote in his article “The Occupation: Why Politics Doesn’t Have to Be Boring, and Why Is It Better if We All Get Involved?“:

Nos alejaron de la política.

La llenaron de corrupción, impunidad y cinismo.

Pero ya volvimos. Y vamos a cambiarla por completo.

Mucho de lo que hacemos es política

La política no es solo aquello que se hace en el congreso desde las curules de los diputados, mucho menos se reduce a discursos de gente trajeada en un atril, que lleva por título “presidente” o “gobernador”. Fuera de ese mundo hemos estado construyendo una gran variedad de formas de participar en la vida política de manera más cercana y útil para todas y todos nosotros.

They took politics away from us.

They filled her with corruption, impunity, and cynicism.

But we came back. And we are going to change it completely.

Most of what we do is politics

Politics isn’t just done from the seats of congressional representatives, much less by suits with job titles like “president” or “governor” who recite speeches from behind lecterns. Beyond that world, we have been amassing an array of ways to participate in political life in a way that is closer and more useful for all of us.

And thus, four festival days passed, filled with workshops, roundtables, conferences, enlightening talks, and artistic and cultural activities revealing a diversity of activism, projects, and resistance all aiming for change.

The following tweets show what was discussed and presented during the festival:

The best response to outrage and harassment is to dream and work for another future. #TheOccupation is a place to dream collectively.

Feminizing politics means to stop legitimizing the verticality of traditional politics @Susanaochoach in #LaOcupación

Some made comparisons between The Occupation and the stiff, old-fashioned way in which Mexico's president delivered his fifth governmental report (referenced in the tweet as the “#5toInforme”) on September 2:

The country that perishes in #5toInforme (#5thReport);
The country that is born, in #TheOccupation

In #TheOccupation we ask ourselves, why should we replace them? In the #5thReport [the government representatives themselves] tell us why.

Echoing that message, Wikipolitics Jalisco member Damian Carmona blogged:

Fueron días en los que nos unimos no sólo con el fin de soñar, sino de sentir una necesidad: reemplazarles. Reemplazarles no es una declaratoria de guerra a las personas que habitan los partidos, es una declaratoria contra las formas tradicionales de hacer política -dentro y fuera de los partidos- y les pido no se inquieten ante esta declaratoria, pero si lo hacen, pregúntense si no es porque temen perder el privilegio que les ha otorgado las formas tradicionales de hacer política.

These are the days in which we unite not just to dream, but to sense a need together: Change. Replacing them [politicians] is not a declaration of war against party members, it is a declaration against traditional politics – within and beyond the scope of political parties. I ask you not to be disturbed by this statement, but if you are, ask yourself if it is not because you fear losing privileges granted to you by traditional forms of politics.

The Wikipolitica team and Pedro Kumamoto announced future plans for the movement at the event’s finale, including Kumamoto’s run for the Mexican Senate in 2018, which aims to bring the movement’s agenda inside institutional walls.

Likewise, eight other members of Wikipolitics will contend for independent legislator seats in various congresses:

What a great moment for news: @pkumamoto will seek a seat on the Senate. There, that right there is where the decay of politics was rejected last night.

The creation of these spaces come as a breath of fresh air in the midst of corruption scandals that have shaken Mexican public opinion in recent weeks. “The Master Scam” (#LaEstafaMaestra) is one example.

As revealed by digital media Animal Político, the government used 128 phantom companies as vehicles to divert public money. In the same way, the organization Mexicans Against Corruption and Impunity, brought to light the case of the Attorney General, who registered a Ferrari as a non-profit to avoid taxes.

This wall has fallen!

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