As Gen. Museveni's Dictatorship Disintegrates Will Uganda's Fate Be Similar To Porfirio Diaz's Mexico?
Heil! Heil! Gen. Museveni-- Uganda's Porfirio Diaz?
Ugandans are sitting on an active volcano that could erupt any time as the 28 year dictatorship disintegrates.
Those who are living in comfort at home and abroad do not want to be bothered. They have told us to leave them or their regions alone as though they live in a world of their own completely detached from everything and everyone else. They have told us many times that we should let sleeping dogs lie. Our fear is that should these dogs wake up and are hungry they may tear us apart.
Thankfully, there are many Ugandans – and the number is increasing – who share our concerns and have encouraged us to continue the work we are doing in civic education. It is hoped that those in denial will soon realize that Uganda is about to catch fire and will join with us to save it. Those of us guided by patriotic principles and long term development trajectory will resist an appeasement approach that contributed to the Second World War and provide information truthfully to enable Ugandans take an informed decision. We are fully aware of the political costs involved. Saving Uganda for present and future generations is more important than pursuing a short-term political goal.
What we see happening in Uganda is similar to what happened in Mexico prior to the 1910 revolution and the subsequent ten year destructive civil war. You will see some similarities with Uganda which could help us to take preventive measures and avert a catastrophe.
Mexico under autocrat José de la Cruz Porfirio Díaz Mori who was president for over 30 years was largely an agrarian society poorly integrated economically and socially like Uganda is today. Two percent owned land in Mexico. In Uganda land ownership is increasingly concentrated in a few hands. Most rural Mexicans were illiterate as most Ugandans are today. Landlessness and non-agricultural activities created a working class that was exploited but open to new ideas. In Uganda landlessness and unemployment of youth have created a class of unhappy citizens increasingly listening to new ideas.
In 1910 Mexico had been ruled by one man Diaz for over 30 years and his wealthy cronies. Uganda has been ruled for close to thirty years by one man Museveni and his cronies. Diaz became a ruler who encouraged economic growth without distributing the benefits equitably. Museveni has also encouraged economic growth without distributing the benefits equitably. As estate farming spread in Mexico to produce for export markets, many Native Americans lost all their land except what was under their houses. In Uganda peasants are losing their land at a frightening rate except what is under their houses.
Mexico’s ability to feed itself declined as it has in Uganda with some thirty percent of Ugandans going to bed hungry every night. Export-oriented enterprises in Mexico failed to create enough jobs to employ the landless as is happening in Uganda.
With increasing political repression Diaz became even more unpopular. He imprisoned his political opponent and declared himself winner of an eighth presidential term.
Frustration reached a breaking point and forces with different interests came together for the sole purpose of overthrowing the Diaz regime. Diaz fled to France where he died four years later in 1915.
The revolution was followed by a destructive ten year civil war. These forces were led by Francisco Madero a believer in political democracy; Pancho Villa a leader of peasants and workers from the northern region of landlessness and foreign-owned export business and Emiliano Zapata from the southern region where the spread of export-oriented estate agriculture had destroyed native American communities.
In Uganda patriotic forces are coming together and hopefully will change Museveni regime without a revolution.
That is the lesson that should be drawn from the Mexican revolution.
Kashambuzi is Secretary General, United Democratic Ugandans