We wonder if a year from now the big semantic debate in the US media will be whether there is a “civil war”…in Mexico. From The Scotsman, Dec. 2:
MEXICO CITY — Felipe Calderon took the oath of office as Mexico’s president yesterday in a lightning-fast ceremony before congressmen who exchanged punches and insults over the conservative leader’s narrow victory.
Mr Calderon entered congress through a back door and appeared suddenly on the speaker’s platform, the site of three days of fistfights and sit-ins by politicians from rival parties seeking to control the stage. Physically protected by sympathetic congressmen and flanked by the outgoing president, Vicente Fox, Mr Calderon ignored the chaos around him and raised his arm as he swore to uphold the constitution, almost inaudible over the noise.
The national anthem played, momentarily stilling the catcalls and shouting, before Mr Calderon made a quick exit and congress adjourned. Foreign dignitaries – including the former US president George Bush snr, the Colombian president, Alvaro Uribe, and Prince Felipe of Spain – barely warmed their seats in a balcony overlooking the scene.
Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, of the Democratic Revolution Party, or PRD, claims he was robbed of the presidency and has declared himself Mexico’s “legitimate president”. In September, the Federal Electoral Tribunal declared Mr Calderon the winner of the disputed race by less than one percentage point.
After the inauguration, Mr Lopez Obrador led tens of thousands of supporters down Mexico City’s Reforma Avenue, the same boulevard they occupied for weeks this summer to protest at Mr Calderon’s victory.
Carrying banners that read “Lopez Obrador is president,” the sea of people marched toward the heavily guarded national auditorium, where Mr Calderon was to address the nation. Afterwards, Mr Calderon was to attend a military ceremony in which army commanders would swear allegiance.
Mr Lopez Obrador said he would never recognise Mr Calderon as president “If we don’t protest and we remain silent, there will never be democracy in our country,” he said.
After camping out in congress for three days in an attempt to control the speaker’s podium and prevent Mr Calderon from taking office, left-wing MPs seized the chamber’s entrances on Friday morning.
They draped a giant banner across the chamber reading “Mexico doesn’t deserve a traitor to democracy as president”, exchanged punches with ruling-party members and erected barricades of chairs as Mr Calderon’s supporters chanted “Mexico wants peace.”
“It’s good action,” quipped California’s governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, as he arrived.
Senator Santiago Creel, the former interior secretary, added: “I have never been in such an exciting session.”
Mr Calderon acknowledged the chaos during a ceremony in which he took control of the presidential residence from Mr Fox.
“I am not unaware of the complexity of the political times we are living through, nor of our differences,” he said. “But I am convinced that today we should put an end to our disagreements and start a new stage whose only aim would be to place the interests of the nation above our differences.”