Revolution #63, October 1, 2006
Mexico: Post-Election Crisis Enters a New Stage
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"Mexico: The Political Volcano Rumbles"
The weekend of Sept 15-16 marked a nodal point in the post-electoral crisis in Mexico. While the PAN (National Action Party) candidate Felipe Calderón was declared the winner by the ruling institutions who are commissioned to decide the outcome of presidential elections, those supporting PRD (Party of the Democratic Revolution) candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) continue to insist that the election is fraught with fraud and is invalid. But the resistance movement that took the form of mass encampments in the heart of Mexico City is now entering a different stage.
Tension built up as the weekend of Independence Day approached, with a great deal of posturing and pressure on all sides. On September 13, the 48-day long blockade—put in place by AMLO to pressure for a vote recount of the presidential elections—was ended. The blockade was reportedly dismantled so as not to interfere with the traditional Independence Day military parade on September 16. Fox had adamantly insisted that he would carry out his function as president to deliver the traditional “Grito”—which commemorates the beginning of Mexico’s War of Indendence from Spain—from the balcony of the National Palace facing the zocalo. AMLO and his PRD party had made plans to carry out their own “Grito” in the zocalo at the same time as Fox At the last minute, Fox was hustled off to Guanajuato, his home state and historical site of the original “Grito,” leaving the Zocalo to AMLO and his supporters. This was the second time in 2 weeks that President Fox was banished from his ceremonial duties due to the actions of the opposition, and the maneuvering of the rulers as a whole.
On Sept 16, after the military had their traditional parade, AMLO presided over the National Democratic Convention (Convención Nacional Democrática, CND) which was held in the zocalo, convened by the Coalition for the Good of Everyone and attended by some 1 million delegates from all over Mexico.
The CND declared AMLO the legitimate president to be sworn in on November 20, and said the majority “rejected the usurpation of the Presidency by Felipe Calderon and refused to recognize him as President.” They also called for “abolishing the rule of privilege.” The CND decided to form an “alternative government,” which will have its own cabinet with a “Secretary of State,” etc. Mexico City will be its base, but it will have a “mobile character.” AMLO proposed a government that will be a “permanent act of civil disobedience against the violation of the people’s will.” AMLO said he will travel around the country to build a “peaceful civic resistance” and possibly organize a referendum to see if the people want to call for a “new constituent assembly that would transform the institutions and reform the Constitution.”
The CND approved a plan for civilian resistance: carry out peaceful protests wherever Calderón shows his face; boycott products and services from companies that financed Calderón’s campaign (Coca-Cola, Kimberly Clark, Banamex, etc.); boycott the media that supported him; organize cultural activities around its demands; organize a national campaign against the declaration of Calderón as president; hold up signs with their demands behind reporters in live media events; call in to radio and TV programs; create a web page; develop a virtual TV station; and launch surprise media events. They also plan to mobilize on Dec 1 to block the inauguration of Calderón as president. But they have made it clear that in no way is the PRD departing from the struggle in the electoral arena as the means for effecting change that they say the country needs.
On the other side of the conflict, the forces–U.S. and Mexican—grouped around Calderón have wasted no time in setting about bringing about the economic “reforms” that they have been pushing for. Their hope is that the election crisis has now been resolved, and that they can now advance their agenda. At a recent Forbes CEO Forum held in Mexico City, organized by U.S. capitalist and former presidential candidate Steve Forbes, business leaders were assembled and plans were discussed to move ahead to “design a new Mexico” which will look for alternatives to “modernize” the energy sector, labor laws, and the fiscal system (taxes) to remove impediments to investment and bring about greater profit growth.
While things have come to a certain resolution through the rulings of the courts, and the temporary diffusion of confrontation in the streets of Mexico City, it is clear that the struggle is far from over. Within the institutions of government, the rulers will continue their struggle to define their program for the nation, but there remains a serious challenge to the legitimacy of the new President, and rebellion at the top led by those forces grouped around the PRD who continue to fight and pressure for their program–intersecting with outpourings of discontent from below.
There is a new situation that can allow for the kind of debate and genuine struggle among the masses about what is the solution to Mexico’s severe economic, political, and social problems. Despite being controlled at the top by AMLO, the resistance in the streets of Mexico City was to a degree in the hands and initiative of the people, and there was much space for debate of all political trends and ideas. People organized reading circles, libraries, works of theater, concerts, painting, writing, poetry, book presentations, debates on all kinds of subjects, movie making, culture activities, and so on. There were marriages, deaths, births—it was a city inside of a city with ten of thousands of residents—with its own security, an organizational structure according to different states and mass organizations, regional kitchens where food was never lacking (for example, every day 100 kilos of tortillas were punctually delivered to the zocalo, three steers were donated from Jalisco, and food and support for all over the country poured in), doctors and nurses organized free clinics at night after work with their own resources, etc. There was little crime within the encampments. All this showed the great potential for the masses running society, and in very creative ways.
In sum, a lot of things have opened up during these intense months of the resistance movement, even though it has been principally under the influence of a ruling class party. What remains to be seen is where those forces and individuals—whose eyes and minds were more opened up and made aware during this juncture—will take things.
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