Mexico: Democratic National Convention declares Lopez Obrador "legitimate president"

Hundreds of thousands of Mexicans marked Independence Day on Sept. 16 by holding a massive meeting, which they called the "Democratic National Convention" (CND), in Mexico City's main plaza, the Zocalo. The crowd voted up plans to carry on a nonviolent struggle against Felipe Calderon Hinojosa, official winner of the July 2 presidential election, who is to start his six-year term on Dec. 1. The convention declared center-left candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador the "legitimate president" of Mexico and announced that he will be inaugurated on Nov. 20, the 96th anniversary of the start of the 1910 Mexican Revolution.

The CND also laid out plans for disruptions of official events, for an election for a constituent assembly to rewrite the Constitution and for a boycott of companies that had financed Calderon's campaign, including the US firms Coca-Cola and Wal-Mart, and the Banco Nacional de Mexico (Banamex), which is owned by the New York-based Citigroup. CND sources said slightly more than 1 million "delegates" had registered to be part of the convention, which set up permanent committees and made plans to meet again on March 21, 2007. (La Jornada, Sept. 17; Univision website, Sept. 16 from EFE)

The CND followed complex negotiations over Independence Day ceremonies between Lopez Obrador's representatives and the government of outgoing president Vicente Fox Quesada, which strongly supported Calderon, a member of center-right National Action Party (PAN).

The custom is for the president to go to the Zocalo shortly before midnight on Sept. 15 and give the Grito, the "cry" of "Mexicans, long live Mexico!" with which Rev. Miguel Hidalgo is said to have started the 1810 war for independence from Spain. The next day, on Sept. 16, the military holds a massive parade in the plaza. Lopez Obrador and his supporters agreed to end the occupation of the Zocalo which they started on July 30, while Fox--who had been prevented by protesters from giving his state of the union report on Sept. 1--agreed to give the Grito in Dolores Hidalgo, Guanajuato state, the site of the original Grito, instead of Mexico City. Federal District (DF, Mexico City) head of government Alejandro Encinas Rodriguez, a member of Lopez Obrador's Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), gave the Grito in the Zocalo, with Lopez Obrador standing beside him. The military held its parade in the plaza in the morning, and the CND took over the Zocalo for the rest of the day. (Notimex, Sept. 15; LJ, Sept. 17)

Traditional Independence Day ceremonies were also suspended in the southern state of Oaxaca, where striking teachers and their allies have been occupying much of the state capital since May. The strikers organized the celebrations, and a teacher gave the Grito. (LJ, Sept. 17)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Sept. 17

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