[Marxism] Obrador doesn't wait to be declared the loser by government; he declares victory

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Mon Jul 3 04:12:30 MDT 2006

Obrador was totally correct to declare victory, since the announcement
by the election officials was clearly preliminary to declaring Calderon
a winner. The closeness of the election partly signals that there has
been significant anti-Obrador vote stealing (the same thing happened to
Cardenas the Lesser a decade ago, but he went quietly).
The Times portrays Obrador as "authoritarian," although there is no sign
at all of that.  The reporter comments smugly about the lack of
"US-bashing" in the election, which he describes as common in past
elections.  But there has been no end to the US tradition of bashing
left candidates in other people's elections, and that "tradition" very
much includes the New York Times.
I think Washington's fear of "populism" on the US border has to do not
only with Mexico and Latin America but with fear of rising anger against
neoliberalism in the United States.  The nearest thing to an electoral
representative of this here is the Green Party, especially the Camejo
campaign for governor in California.
According to this article, Marcos' position was more sectarian than I
thought.  This article identifies him with calls to boycott the voting.
Fred Feldman
July 3, 2006

Electoral Crisis in Mexico as Top 2 Declare Victory 


MEXICO CITY, July 2 — Election officials declared Sunday that they could
not immediately determine a winner in the tightest presidential race in
the country's history. Minutes later, the two front runners each
declared victory, setting in motion an electoral crisis. 

The contest pitted Felipe Calderón, a conservative former energy
minister backed by business leaders, against Andrés Manuel López
Obrador, the firebrand leftist former mayor of Mexico City, supported
mostly by the poor. 

Mr. López Obrador said at a downtown hotel he would respect the decision
of the election institute even if he lost by one vote. Yet in the same
breath he maintained he was convinced he had won by 500,000 votes. "This
result is irreversible," he said.

Appearing before supporters a few minutes later at his party
headquarters, Mr. Calderón rattled off the results of several surveys of
voters leaving the polls and counts of key districts that showed he had
won. "There is not the slightest doubt that we have won the election,"
he said. 

Surveys of polling stations by election officials showed the contest was
too close to call, and they urged people to remain calm until official
results could be reported. The only thing clear was that a third
candidate, Roberto Madrazo, the former governor of Tabasco State, was
trailing the two front-runners.

At 11 p.m., with a quarter of the polling places counted, Mr. Calderón
led the race with 38 percent the vote, compared to 35 percent for Mr.
López Obrador. Mr. Madrazo had 19 percent.

Earlier in the evening, tension gripped the capital as it became clear
the margin in the race was razor-thin. Mr. López Obrador did not arrive
at the downtown hotel where he was expected to receive the returns, but
closeted himself in his campaign headquarters instead. Mr. Calderón also
remained out of sight at his party headquarters.

Luis Ugalde, the head of the Federal Electoral Institute, appeared twice
on national television and urged candidates and their supporters to wait
for official results. President Vicente Fox also addressed the nation,
pleading with voters to heed the election commission's decision. "It's
the responsibility of all political actors to respect the law," he said.

But Mr. López Obrador, who critics say has an authoritarian streak,
acted as if he was already the president elect. He went immediately to
the historic central square, where thousands of his supporters had
gathered to celebrate. 

"We are going to demonstrate that we won and they have to respect our
victory," he told the crowd.

At stake in the contest is whether the country remains on a conservative
track and stays a firm
s/unitedstates/index.html?inline=nyt-geo> United States ally or joins a
trend that has brought several leftists to power in Latin America in
recent years, weakening Washington's influence. 

"This is about the struggle between social classes," said Miguel Abel
Sanchez, a 55-year-old shopkeeper, after he said he cast his vote for
the leftist candidate in the rural town of San Rafael, 25 miles outside
Mexico City. "We cannot live in a rich country with an enormous number
of people in extreme poverty."

The election was another milestone in the country's march toward full
democracy after more than seven decades of single-party, autocratic
rule, which ended with the election six years ago of President Fox, who
was not permitted to run for another term. 

The campaign was marked by wide differences on how to handle the economy
and a storm of negative advertising, as Mr. López Obrador's opponents
tried to generate a high level of anxiety that his leftist populism
would undo the country's democratic progress and stability. 

s/mexico/index.html?inline=nyt-geo> Mexico has myriad problems, from
rampant organized crime to environmental degradation, the election
revolved around the issues of poverty and jobs, and how to close a
yawning chasm between rich and poor that has sent some 10 million
Mexicans north of the border in search of work since a free trade pact
with the United States took hold over a decade ago. 

Mr. Calderón, 43, said he would create jobs through securing more
private investment and by cutting taxes. Mr. López Obrador, 52, said he
would spend $20 billion on social programs and public works to
jump-start the economy.

Underlying the debate was the larger issue of whether Mexico's attempt
to fit into the global economy through free trade agreements had done
enough to alleviate poverty. Mr. López Obrador argued that it had not
and that a new economic policy to funnel more tax dollars to the poor
was needed. Mr. Calderón wanted to stay the course. 

Mr. López Obrador also promised to slash spending on government
salaries, root out corruption and cut other waste. He attacked what he
called the privileged elite in Mexico, a network of businessmen and
politicians that he said for too long had evaded taxes and become rich
from government contracts and the sale of state monopolies.

"There cannot be a rich government and a poor people," Mr. López Obrador
said repeatedly in his campaign speeches. 

Mr. Calderón warned direly that Mr. López Obrador's plan would lead to
more debt and an economic collapse. He said that Mexico had to compete
in the global economy and that it could triumph with his leadership. He
said he would encourage more foreign investment, allow private
partnerships in the state-run oil business and slash corporate taxes. "I
want a winning Mexico," he said. 

Mr. Madrazo, 53, carrying the banner of the Institutional Revolutionary
Party, or P.R.I., tried to position himself in the center, promising to
crack down on crime, cut taxes and provide more direct aid to the poor.

Throughout the country, from small towns to the sprawling capital,
people stood patiently in line at open-air polling places, most of them
little more than fold-up tables holding voter lists, ballots and
cardboard ballot boxes with cellophane sides. 

The line of voters in San Rafael was a panorama of Mexico: youths in
shades and leather jackets, weathered farmers in white cowboy hats,
sun-hardened old ladies in straw hats, small business owners in jeans,
knit shirts and loafers. About two-thirds of Mexico's 71 million voters
were expected to turn out. 

Some said they were voting for Mr. Calderón, of President Fox's National
Action Party, to give the free-trade and pro-business policies of the
government more time to work. Mr. Fox made history in 2000 when he
defeated the P.R.I., but most of the reforms he promised ran aground in

"In 6 years, you cannot undo what other people have done over 70 years,"
said Arturo Garcia, a 49-year-old tortilla maker. "Fox was tied up by
the Congress."

Some left-wing fringe groups boycotted the election. On Sunday morning,
Subcommander Marcos, the masked leader of the 1994 Zapatista uprising in
Chiapas, marched down Reforma Avenue, the spine of Mexico City, with a
few thousand supporters, heaping scorn on all the political parties.
Some danced in the street and waved Communist flags.


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