The Spirit of Resistance in Mexico
by Stephen Lendman
December 2, 2006
National Action Party (PAN) candidate
Felipe Calderon had center stage at 12:01 AM, December 1 at the
presidential residence of Los Pinos as Mexico's new president
addressed the country on national television after a brief stealth
swearing-in ceremony for him to the office he didn't win and will
now assume illegitimately because of the fraud-laden electoral
coup d'etat that gave it to him. He then had to be slipped in
a back door of the Congress later that morning to take the oath
of office there, as constitutionally required, in a second "lightning-fast"
chaotic ceremony preceded by a brawl between lawmakers for and
against the new president who then left as fast as he entered
and is now off to a rocky start.
At the same time, outside in Mexico City's
streets, hundreds of thousands of people assembled early in the
morning in the vast Zocalo square supporting opposition Democratic
Revolution Party (PRD) candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador,
who changed his earlier plans to march on Congress and instead
held a peaceful mass-protest march of his supporters through the
city center to avoid clashes with the police that might have turned
violent. It went as far as Chapultepec Park, the entrance to the
secured area, to demonstrate opposition to Mr. Calderon and to
support Lopez Obrador who was denied the presidency he won now
handed over illegitimately to Mr. Calderon. Obrador told the crowd
his fight will continue because "it is not possible that
there are no democratic elections in Mexico. We are not rebels
without a cause, like the media want to portray us. Sometimes
they forget the real issue at hand, they forget that we were robbed
of the presidential election."
Earlier on Tuesday, November 28, opposition
legislators occupied the speaker's podium in the Parliament's
Chamber of Deputies lower house where Calderon was scheduled to
be sworn in as is customary. They remained there, humiliating
Mr. Calderon and forcing him first to settle for a well-guarded
private bewitching hour ceremony, unprecedented in the country's
history, and then have to repeat it in the brawling environment
of the lower house and mass-opposition controlled anger in the
streets outside. Not a good way to begin a presidency that may
not get any easier ahead. It led the Council on Hemispheric Affairs
(COHA) on December 1 to write an article with the long and ominous
title - "With Calderon's Deeply Troubled Inauguration Last
Night, Amidst a Deteriorating Security Situation in Oaxaca, the
Possibility of a New Mexican Revolution Cannot Be Ruled Out."
What COHA didn't say was that it appears that revolution may have
already begun and is beginning to spread slowly throughout most
parts of the country where "the people the color of the earth"
live and are now demanding their rights.
In the earlier wee-hours ceremony COHA
referred to, Calderon was presented the tri-color ceremonial sash
by outgoing PAN president Vincente Fox, and it now remains to
be seen what he can do with it as he assumes his new office in
a weakened position against an opposition with vast support determined
to continue resisting his legitimacy. For weeks following the
fraud-laden July 2 general election, mass protests filled the
streets of Mexico City and its vast Zocalo square.
The struggle continued in an atmosphere
of post-election turmoil that energized the Mexican public including
the courageous people of Oaxaca who've been battling since May
for the rights they've long been denied including the removal
of the corrupt and repressive state governor Ulises Ruiz and united
to do it by forming the Popular Assembly of the People of Oaxaca
(APPO). They're now faced off against 4500 of the country's Federal
Preventative Police (PFP) and thuggish paramilitary assassins
sent to the state to target them. Still, they've stood their ground
bravely in their determined confrontation that shows no signs
of ending despite brutal police harassment on the streets with
tear-gassing, illegal home searches and seizures, people disappeared,
many dozens or hundreds illegally arrested for protesting injustice
and falsely accused of "hindering free passage, sedition,
criminal association, conspiracy, theft, rebellion, and threats"
and at least 17 killed including American documentary filmmaker
and journalist Brad Will and dozens wounded.
Weeks before the early morning stealth
inauguration in Mexico City, the ruling PAN party set up a militarized
zone around the Chamber of Deputies in the capital preparing for
whatever might unfold in the run-up to December 1 and its aftermath
still to come. The area was turned into an armed camp with 1200
elite PFP in riot gear along with Police of the Presidential Guard
manning checkpoints in the surrounding streets in an atmosphere
of martial law that persists and may signal trouble ahead on the
streets of Mexico City similar to what's now happening in Oaxaca
and beginning to spread elsewhere.
In addition, three-meter high metal fences
were erected around the Chamber of Deputies building and remain
in place, closing it off like a fortress needing protection from
the people of Mexico the elected leaders are supposed to represent
but never do in a country with a long tradition of authoritarian
rule, corruption, dismissiveness of peoples' rights, and service
only to the interests of wealth and power. The scene there represents
an ominous symbol of state repression past and more likely to
come that Felipe Calderon signaled on November 20 when he said:
"My government will make use of all the force of the Mexican
state, with the laws at hand and the power of the institutions.
This is a war that we are going to win..."
Straightaway, this man shows he means
it by his appointment of Jalisco Governor Francisco Ramirez Acuna
to the powerful post of Interior Minister that effectively puts
him in charge of state-directed repression. He assumes his new
office with a well-earned reputation in his home state as a hard
line authoritarian known for cracking down on protesters and imprisoning
dissidents while, at the same time, allowing narco-traffickers
and criminal entrepreneurs safe haven under his jurisdiction and
benefitting along with them.
He, Mr. Calderon, and others in the new
government will get plenty of support for what they have in mind
from the Bush administration. It has its eye on exploiting all
remaining parts of Mexico it hasn't yet gotten its hands on since
it grabbed so much of it from the IMF-imposed structural adjustment
policies of the 1980s that resulted in large-scale privatizations
of state-owned industries, economic deregulation favorable to
Washington, and mandated wage restraint that held pay increases
below the rate of inflation whenever any were gotten at all.
Calderon and Bush will also be close allies
working together to further the business gains already in place
from the destructive 1994 NAFTA agreement that predatory corporate
giants benefitted hugely from and now want to broaden into a North
American union, effectively erasing the borders of the three NAFTA-participating
countries and surrendering the sovereignty of the two smaller
ones to the hegemony of the one dominant one, adversely affecting
the people of all three countries who always end up the losers
in deals like this, if it happens.
If the opposition in Mexico has any say
about it, post-election schemes cooked up by the PAN in service
to its dominant northern neighbor may not go as planned. Opposition
PRD candidate Lopez Obrador (ALMO, as he's affectionately known)
promises to resist the new illegitimate government, and on November
20 (the anniversary date of Mexico's 1910 revolution) conducted
his own swearing-in ceremony in Mexico City's Zocalo as Mexico's
"legitimate president" before hundreds of thousands
of supporters. He named his cabinet members joining him and told
the crowd "There are millions of Mexicans who are not willing
to accept more abuses (and that his) legitimate government (would
work for the poor)." He added Mr. Calderon (he calls a US
"puppet") "cannot feel secure (in the office he
didn't win and he's) the lowly servant of the white-collar criminals
(who stole it for him)." He also presented 20 measures he
intends to work for including preventing the privatization of
the nation's energy sector Big US Oil has long eyed to control.
The battle lines are now drawn and began
peacefully on the streets near the Parliament building on December
1 in response to Lopez Obrador asking his supporters to come out
in them in protest with more sure to follow. Security forces have
been there for months and will be aligned against them whenever
they're in the streets or square and were joined by hundreds of
Navy officers deployed around the Parliament, at least for the
inauguration, already protected by several thousand elite police
and members of the Presidential Guard. This was just day one of
round one as Felipe Calderon begins his potentially turbulent
six-year term in office that may hold many surprises as it unfolds.
The people of Mexico have shown they're
fed up with decades of fraud, corruption and abuse and for months
have taken to the streets in numbers large enough to make a difference
and for the world to take note. They're joined in protest by their
comrades in Oaxaca, other states, and by Subcomandante Marcos
and the many thousands of his supporters and organizations across
the country. He's leading them in his national Zapatista Other
Campaign organized outside the political process to end Mexico's
unjust economic system of neoliberal predatory capitalism wanting
to replace it with a democratic system of social and economic
justice for the people in a country long denied either.
Events ebb and flow south of the border,
but overall the atmosphere's electric and more ripe for change
now than it's been since Emiliano Zapata Salazar's heroic efforts
led a national revolutionary movement against the Porfirio Diaz
dictatorship in 1910 that overthrew him the following year. It
was historic and now is a symbol of what courageous people hope
will ignite a new spirit of resistance leading to change in what
may be a watershed moment in Mexico's history.
It it happens, it won't come without struggle.
Mexican governments aren't known for yielding easily to protests
against their authority, and this one can expect plenty of help
from the Bush administration already reeling from the opposition
it faces in a growing number of Latin American nations and sure
to become more hostile and determined to resist new threats in
the region as they arise. For Washington, Mexico is the cornerstone
of the hemisphere it feels it has a lien on and losing it would
be another catastrophic blow adding to its strategic defeats in
the Middle East brought on by the Bush administration's arrogance,
blunders and ineptness.
The people of Mexico have other ideas,
they're now playing out in real time, and as events ahead unfold
it may be that Mexican history will be made in the hearts of the
people and the spirit they show in the streets they take to and
not in the halls of power where it usually happens.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can
be reached at email@example.com. Also visit his blog
site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.