[Marxism] "Mexico at the combustion point" as govt readies repressive forces

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Thu Aug 24 03:37:13 MDT 2006


Whatever Lopez Obrador may do in the future, he has already been the
best Mexican president since Cardenas -- no one else even close.  The
course he has taken has been an inspiration to the nation, and has
transformed politics in the country in a progressive and even
revolutionary direction. 
Fred Feldman


COUNTERPUNCH
August 23, 2006
"God doesn't belong to the PAN!"
"AMLO deserves a miracle"
"No Pasaran!"
Mexico Approaches the Combustion Point
By JOHN ROSS

Mexico City.

The Congress of the country is ringed by two-meter tall grilled metal
barriers soldered together apparently to thwart a suicide car bomb
attack. Behind this metal wall, 3000 vizored, kevlar-wearing robocops --
the Federal Preventative Police (PFP, a police force drawn from the
army) -- and members of the elite Estado Mayor or Presidential military
command, form a second line of defense. Armed with tear gas launchers,
water cannons, and reportedly light tanks, this Praetorian Guard has
been assigned to protect law and order and the institutions of the
republic against left-wing mobs that threaten to storm the Legislative
Palace -- or so the President informs his fellow citizens in repeated
messages transmitted on national television.

No, the President's name is not Pinochet and this military tableau is
not being mounted in the usual banana republic or some African satrap.
This is Mexico, a paragon of democracy (dixit George Bush), Washington'
third trading partner, and the eighth leading petroleum producer on the
planet, seven weeks after the fraud-marred July 2 presidential election
of which, at this writing, no winner has been officially declared. One
of the elite military units assigned to seal off congress is indeed
titled the July 2 brigade.

MEXICO ON A KNIFEBLADE headlines the British Guardian, but the typically
short-term-memory-loss U.S. print media seems to have forgotten about
the imbroglio just south of its borders. Nonetheless, the phone rings
and it's New York telling me they just got a call from their man on the
border and Homeland Security is beefing up its forces around Laredo in
anticipation of upheaval further south. The phone rings again and it's
California telling me they just heard on Air America that U.S. Navy
patrols were being dispatched to safeguard Mexican oil platforms in the
Gulf. The left-wing daily here, La Jornada, runs a citizen-snapped photo
of army convoys arriving carrying soldiers disguised as farmers and
young toughs. Rumors race through the seven mile-long encampment
installed by supporters of leftist presidential challenger Andres Manuel
Lopez Obrador (AMLO) three weeks ago who have tied up big city traffic
and enraged the motorist class here, that PFP robocops will attack
before dawn. The campers stay up all night huddled around bum fires
prepared to defend their tent cities.

The moment reminds many Mexicans of the tense weeks in September and
October 1968 when 12 days before the Olympic Games were to be
inaugurated here, President Gustavo Diaz Ordaz ordered the military to
massacre striking students in a downtown plaza not far from where AMLO's
people are now camped out. 300 were killed in the Plaza of Three
Cultures, their bodies incinerated at Military Camp #1 in western Mexico
City. The Tlatelolco massacre was a watershed in social conflict here
and the similarities are sinister. In fact, Lopez Obrador has taken to
comparing outgoing President Vicente Fox with Diaz Ordaz.

Fox will go to congress September 1 to deliver his final State of the
Union address. The new legislature will be convened the same day. The
country may or may not have a new president by that day. In anticipation
of this show-down, on August 14, newly-elected senators and deputies
from the three parties that comprise AMLO's Coalition for the Good of
All attempted to encamp on the sidewalk in front of the legislative
palace only to be rousted and clobbered bloody by the President's
robocops.

With 160 representatives, the Coalition forms just a quarter of the 628
members of the new congress but they will be a loud minority during
Fox's "Informe". Since the 1988 "presidenciales" were stolen from
Cuauhtemoc Cardenas, founder of AMLO's Party of the Democratic
Revolution, PRD legislators have routinely interrupted the president
during this authoritarian ritual in orchestrated outbursts that have
sometimes degenerated into partisan fisticuffs.

The first to challenge the Imperial Presidency was Porfirio Munoz Ledo,
a hoary political warhorse, who in 1988 thrust a finger at President
Miguel De la Madrid, accusing him of overseeing the theft of the
election from Cardenas. Munoz Ledo's J'Accuse stunned the political
class. He was slugged and pummeled by members of De la Madrid's
long-ruling PRI when he tried to escape the chamber. Munoz Ledo now
stands at AMLO's side.

But perhaps the most comical moment in the annals of acting out during
the Informe, came in 1996 when a brash PRI deputy donned a Babe the
Valiant Pig mask and positioned himself directly under the podium from
which President Ernesto Zedillo was addressing the state of the nation,
and wiggled insouciant signs with slogans that said things like 'EAT THE
RICH!" Like Munoz Ledo, Marco Rascon was physically attacked, his mask
ripped off like he was a losing wrestler by a corrupt railroad union
official who in turn was hammer locked by a pseudo-leftist senator, Irma
"La Tigresa" Serrano, a one-time ranchero singer and in fact, the former
very close friend of Gustavo Diaz Ordaz.

This September 1, if martial law is not declared and the new congress
dissolved before it is even installed, the PRD delegation, which will no
doubt be strip-searched by the Estado Mayor for incriminating banners,
is sworn to create a monumental ruckus, shredding the tarnished decorum
of this once-solemn event forever to protest Fox's endorsement of
electoral larceny. Some solons say they may go naked.

But no matter what kind of uproar develops, one can be secure that it
will not be shown on national television as the cameras of Mexico's
two-headed television monstrosity â_" Televisa and TV Azteca â_" will
stay trained on the President as he tries to mouth the stereotypical
clichés that is always the stuff and fluff of this otherwise
stultifying séance. The images of the chaos on the floor of congress
will not be passed along to the Great Unwashed.

There is a reptilian feel to Mexico seven weeks after a discredited
Federal Electoral Institute (IFE) cemented Lopez Obrador into a second
place coffin by awarding the presidency to right-winger Felipe Calderon
by a mere 243,000 votes out of a total 42,000,000 cast. Both Calderon
and IFE czar Luis Carlos Ugalde (Calderon was best man at Ugalde's
wedding) make these little beady reptile eyes as they slither across
national screens.

Those screens have been the scenes of some of the slimiest and most
sordid political intrigue of late. One of the lizard kings who is
fleetingly featured on Televisa primetime is an imprisoned Argentinean
construction tycoon, Carlos Ahumada, who in 2004 conspired with Fox,
Calderon's PAN, and Televisa to frame AMLO on corruption charges and
take him out of the presidential election."El Peje" (for a gar-like fish
from the swamps of Lopez Obrador's native Tabasco) was then leading the
pack by 18 points.

Charged by Lopez Obrador, then the mayor of this megalopolis, with
defrauding Mexico City out of millions, Ahumada had taken his revenge by
filming PRD honchos when they came to his office to pick up boodles of
political cash. Although the filthy lucre was perfectly legal under
Mexico's milquetoast campaign financing laws, the pick-ups looked awful
on national television. AMLO's former personal secretary was caught
stuffing wads of low denomination bills into his suit coat pockets as if
he were on Saturday Night Live.

Ahumada subsequently turned the tapes over to the leprous,
cigar-chomping leader of Fox's PAN party in the Senate, Diego Fernandez
de Cevallos ("El Jefe Diego") who in turn had them delivered to a
green-haired clown, Brozo, who was then reading the morning news on
Televisa. Then the Argentine blackmailer fled to Cuba in a private
plane. Televisa would air the incriminating videos day and night for
months.

Apprehended in Veradero after his lover Robles was shadowed to that
socialist beachfront, Ahumada spilled the beans to Cuban authorities:
Interior Secretary Santiago Creel, who was then AMLO's lead rival for
the presidency, had cooked up the plot with the connivance of reviled
former president Carlos Salinas, Lopez Obrador's most venomous foe, the
then attorney general, and Fox himself, to remove AMLO from the race.

The Mexican government did not ask for extradition and Ahumada's
deportation from Cuba was not seen as a friendly gesture. Within a
month, diplomatic relations between Mexico and Cuba were broken off and
ambassadors summoned home. The construction tycoon has been imprisoned
in Mexico City ever since he was booted out of Cuba and was last heard
from when he had his rogue cop chauffer shoot up the family SUV, a
charade both Fox and Televisa tried to pin on AMLO. Ahumada had
suggested he was about to release two more incriminating videos. These
dubious events took place on June 6, the day of a crucial presidential
debate between AMLO and Calderon.

Then last week, Ahumada abruptly resurfaced, or at least his videotaped
confession to Cuban authorities did. Filmed through prison bars, he lays
out the plot step by step. Yes, he affirms, the deal was fixed up to cut
AMLO's legs out from under him and advance the fortunes of the
right-wing candidate who turned out to be Felipe Calderon and not the
bumbling Creel. The conspiracy backfired badly as his supporters rallied
around him and Lopez Obrador's ratings soared.

The origins of the confession tape, leaked to top-rung reporter Carmen
Aristegui, was obscure. Had Fidel dispatched it from his sick bed to
bolster Lopez Obrador's claims of victory as the PAN and the snake-eyed
Televisa evening anchor Joaquin Lopez Dorriga hissed? The air grew
serpentine with theories. There was even one school that speculated
Calderon himself had been the source in a scheme to distance himself
from Fox (there had always been bad feelings between them) and Creel,
now the leader of the PAN faction in congress.

AMLO advanced a variant of this explanation: the specter of Ahumada had
been resuscitated to divert attention from the evidence of generalized
fraud the Coalition had submitted to the TRIFE and the panel's impending
verdict that Calderon had won the election.

Perhaps the most nagging question in this snakepit of uncertainty is
what happened during the partial recount of less than 10per cent of the
130,000 ballot boxes ordered by the TRIFE to test the legitimacy of the
IFE's results. Although the recount concluded on August 13, the judges
have released no numbers and are not obligated to do so. Their only
responsibility is to certify the validity of the election.

Although AMLO's reps in the counting rooms came up with gobs of evidence
-- violated ballot boxes, stolen or stuffed ballots, altered tally
sheets and other bizarre anomalies -- only the left-wing daily La
Jornada saw fit to mention them. The silence of the Mexican media and
their accomplices in the international press in respect to the Great
Fraud is deafening, although they manage to fill their rags with ample
attacks on Lopez Obrador for tying up Mexico City traffic.

According to AMLO's people, 119,000 ballots in the sample recount cannot
be substantiated in about 3500 casillas, 58,000 more votes were cast
than the number of voters on the voting list. In nearly 4000 other
casillas, 61,000 ballots allocated to election officials cannot be
accounted for. The annulment of the casillas in which these alterations
occurred would put Lopez Obrador in striking distance of Calderon and in
a better world, would obligate the TRIFE to order a total recount.

But given the cheesy state of the Mexican judiciary this is not apt to
happen. One of the judges who will decide the fate of democracy in
Mexico is a former client of El Jefe Diego for whom the PANista senator
won millions from the Mexico City government in a crooked land deal.

Meanwhile, thousands continue to camp out in a hard rain for a third
week on the streets of Mexico City awaiting the court's decision. They
have taken to erecting shrines and altars and are praying for divine
intervention. Hundreds pilgrimage out to the shrine of the Virgin of
Guadalupe, some crawling on their knees, to ask the Brown Madonna to
work her miracle. "God doesn't belong to the PAN!" they chant as they
trudge up the great avenue that leads to the Basilica. "AMLO deserves a
miracle" Esther Ortiz, a 70 year-old great grandmother comments to a
reporter as she kneels to pray before the gilded altar.

At the Metropolitan Cathedral on one flank of the Zocalo, a young
worshipper interrupts Cardinal Norberto Rivera and is quickly hustled
off the premises by his Eminence's bouncers. The following Sunday, the
Cathedral's great doors are under heavy surveillance, and churchgoers
screened for telltale signs of devotion to Lopez Obrador. Hundreds of
AMLO's supporters mill about in front of the ancient temple shouting
"voto por voto" and that Cardinal Rivera is a pederast.

AMLO as demi-god is one motif of this religious pageant being played out
at what was once the heart of the Aztec theocracy, the island of
Tenochtitlan. The ruins of the twin temples of the fierce Aztec war god
Huitzilopochtli and Tlahuac, the god of the rain, are adjacent to the
National Palace against which AMLO's stage is set. Lopez Obrador sleeps
each night in a tent close by.

Many hearts were ripped out smoking on these old stones and fed to such
hungry gods before the Crusaders showed up bearing the body and blood of
Jesus Christ.

AMLO is accused by right-wing "intellectuals" (Enrique Krauze and the
gringo apologist George Grayson) of entertaining a Messiah complex.
Indeed, he is up there every day on the big screen, his craggy features,
salt and pepper hair, raspy voice and defiantly jutted jaw bearing more
of a passable resemblance to a younger George C. Scott rather than The
Crucified One. AMLO's devotees come every evening at seven, shoehorned
between the big tents that fill the Zocalo, rain or shine. Last Monday,
I stood with a few thousand diehards in a biblical downpour, thunder and
lightening shattering the heavens above. "Llueve y llueve y el pueblo no
se mueve" they chanted joyously, "it rains and rains and the people do
not move."

The evolution of these incantations is fascinating. At first, the
standard slogan of "Voto Por Voto, Casilla por Casilla!" was
automatically invoked whenever Lopez Obrador stepped to the microphone.
"You are not alone!" and "Presidente!" had their moment. "Fraude!" is
still popular but in these last days, "No Pasaran!" -- they shall not
pass, the cry of the defenders of Madrid as Franco's fascist hordes
banged on the doors of Madrid, 1936 -- has flourished.

In this context, "No Pasaran!" means "we will not let Felipe Calderon
pass to the presidency." AMLO, who holds out little hope that the TRIFE
will decide in his favor, devotes more time now to organizing the
resistance to the imposition of Calderon upon the Aztec nation. Article
39 of the Mexican constitution, he reminds partisans, grants the people
the right to change their government if that government does not
represent them. To this end, he is summoning a million delegates up to
the Zocalo for a National Democratic Convention on Mexican Independence
Day September 16, a date usually reserved for a major military parade.

Aside from the logistical impossibility of putting a million citizens in
this Tiennemens-sized plaza, how this gargantuan political extravaganza
is going to be financed is cloudy. Right now, it seems like small
children donating their piggy banks is the main mode of fund-raising.
Because AMLO's people distrust the banks, all of which financed
Calderon's vicious TV ad campaign, a giant piggy bank has been raised in
the Zocalo to receive the contributions of the faithful.

Dreaming is also a fundraiser. 10,000 raised their voices in song this
past Sunday as part of a huge chorus assembled under the dome of the
Monument to the Revolution to perform a cantata based on the words of
Martin Luther King and Mohandas Gandhi. This too is a form of civil
resistance, Lopez Obrador commended his followers.

The first National Democratic Convention took place behind rebel lines
in the state of Aguascalientes in 1914 at the apogee of the Mexican
Revolution when the forces of Francisco Villa and his Army of the North
first joined forces with Zapata's Liberating Army of the Southern
Revolution. The second National Democratic Revolution took place 80
years later in 1994, in a clearing in the Lacandon Jungle of Chiapas
when the Zapatista Army of National Liberation wedded itself to the
civil society in an uprising that rocked Mexico all throughout the '90s.
Eclipsed by events, the EZLN and its quixotic spokesperson Subcomandante
Marcos have disappeared from the political map in the wake of the
fraudulent election.

What this third National Democratic Convention is all about is now being
debated in PRD ruling circles and down at the grassroots. Minimally, a
plan of organized resistance that will dog Felipe Calderon for the next
six years, severely hampering his ability to rule will evolve from this
mammoth conclave. The declaration of a government in resistance headed
by Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is one consideration. The National
Democratic Convention could also result in the creation of a new party
to replace a worn-out PRD now thoroughly infiltrated by cast-offs from
the PRI.

The Party of the Democratic Revolution has always functioned best as an
opposition party. With notable exceptions (AMLO was one), when the PRD
becomes government, it collapses into corruption, internecine bickering,
and behaves just as arrogantly as the PAN and the PRI. No Pasaran?

Seven weeks after the July 2 electoral debacle, Mexico finds itself at a
dangerously combustible conjunction ("coyuntura") in which the tiny
white elite here is about to impose its will upon a largely brown and
impoverished populous to whom the political parties and process grow
more irrelevant each day. "No Pasaran!" the people cry out but to whom
and what they are alluding to remains to be defined.

John Ross's ZAPATISTAS! Making Another World Possible: Chronicles of
Resistance 2000-2006 will be published by Nation Books this October.
Ross will travel the Left Coast this fall with both ZAPATISTAS! and a
new chapbook of poetry BOMBA! and is still looking for possible venues.
Send suggestions to johnross at igc.org





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