Revolution or Populist Theater?
by Dan La Botz, Mexican Labor News & Analysis
Two months after Mexico's contested July 2 presidential elections, the Federal Electoral Tribunal recognized Felipe Calderón as president-elect, while a massive National Democratic Convention has proclaimed Andrés Manuel López Obrador to be the "legitimate president of Mexico." He is now creating an alternative government, and says he will call a constituent assembly that will write a new constitution. What is happening here? Is this a radical fight for reforms? A potentially revolutionary movement? Or a spectacular piece of populist theater?
From CBC, Sept. 21:
A North American security meeting was secretly held in Banff last week, attracting high-profile officials from the United States, Mexico and Canada.
The Chiapas daily Estesur Sept. 24 noted a "bad weekend for Lopez Obrador," with PRD founder Cuauhtemoc Cardenas dissenting from his declaration as Mexico's "legitimate president," and a tough struggle looming for the PRD candidate in next month's Tabasco gubernatorial race. But this Sept. 22 op-ed in the Los Angeles Times should make him feel a little better—and certainly provides a challenge to those who would dismiss his claim as merely "spurious" (to use Lopez Obrador's favorite word for rival Felipe Calderon's victory).
Fox is a savvy one. We recently noted that the UN's Special Rapporteur for indigenous peoples has singled out his government for criticism. Yet he casts a vote for the Universal Declaration of Indigeous Peoples to win support from Mexico's ten million indigenous people. Talli Nauman writes for El Universal, Sept. 25:
As one worthwhile parting shot, lame duck President Vicente Fox went to New York this past week to vote Mexico’s support for the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Rights at the General Assembly meeting of more than 100 nations.
This report contains the usual condescension of mainstream (English-language) media accounts on the Zapatista movement. For instance, the Zapatista-led protests around the Atenco crisis earlier this year were quite significant, and dominated the news in Mexico before they were overshadowed by the even bigger protests sparked by the electoral dispute. This account indicates the potential for a mending of fences between the Zapatistas and Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador's Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), which seems poised to establish a parallel government. From AP, Sept. 21 via Chiapas95:
Labor turmoil following disaster draws in USW
Accused by government of $55 million theft, leader of Mexican mine union flees to Canada with help of Pittsburgh-based labor giant
The horrific Pasta de Conchos mining accident sparked a leadership crisis in Mexico's mammoth mine and steelworkers union, and officials with United Steelworkers of America are taking sides.
Masked gunmen burst into a nightclub in the west-central Mexican state of Michoacan late on the night of Sept. 4 and flung five human heads onto the dance floor. The "Light and Shadow" club in the city of Uruapan was packed when the men stormed in and ordered clients onto the floor, state police said. Then they pulled the bloody heads from plastic bags and tossed them into the horrified crowd.
A unanimous decision of Mexico's Federal Electoral Tribunal rejected allegations of systematic fraud and awarded Felipe Calderon the presidency Sept. 5, after two months of uncertainty. But his ability to rule effectively remains in doubt as Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador refuses to recognise the victory and vows to lead a parallel popular government from below.