HispanicVista Columnists

Pots And Pans Time In México?

By Richard N. Baldwin T.


     Recent world history should be teaching a lesson to México that so far is being ignored. We have seen a number of countries, due to popular uprisings, that have driven out elected governments. The most recent was in the Ukraine where demonstrations lasting several weeks forced the resignation of a blatantly fraudulently elected government. Popular uprisings threw out governments in Bolivia, forced recalls in Peru and Chile. And the "pots and pans" demonstrations in Argentina drove out 6 successive presidents.

     These overthrows were about a "peaceful" as you could expect. They were not by revolutions but were accomplished by massive demonstrations avoiding civil wars. These were people who felt that their governments were not fulfilling their promises, not serving the people or were fraudulent. In desperation, they demonstrated for change.

     México itself went through a voted democratic change in 2000 when it turned out a ruling party that had been in place for more than 70 years. The winner of the 2000 election promised changes that the people wanted and the democratic process worked.  But things have not worked out that well in the eyes of many Mexican citizens. The promises of "reform" (law, labor, public safety, education and you name it) have not been fulfilled. There are many reasons for this, but the fact remains that the wide majority feels that the promised changes have and are not going to be made.

     Over 500,000 people marched in the capitol last year in one demonstration to demand better public safety (from organized kidnapping gangs) and more efficient and honest police protection. And more and more demonstrations are held daily by various groups that feel ignored by the government.

     Recent state elections seem to indicate that the present ruling party (PAN) is falling off the political radar, while the party that is now making steady gains is the "left of center" PRD. While cries of "beware of the socialists in the PRD" from the other two parties (PAN and the old PRI) are being made, the US stated this year that any duly elected party that the people want here will be respected. The US went out of its way to distance themselves from any outside influence on our electoral process.

     It would seem that the electorate might want another "change" if they feel that the present political party does not serve their wants. Speaking of the electorate, remember that over 85% of the electorate have an income of less that that paid by a US Social Security pension. Most of these people are younger and trying to raise families. These are the people whose wages have not even caught up to the level of 1994 because of inflation. In other words, the majority of potential voters are much worse off now than in 1994. Since that time they have lived under two parties that have made many promises not fulfilled. Therefore, political analysts predict that there is a shift in thinking that many might want to try the "third" choice the next time around. Besides recent election results, there are many little things like old-line mayors getting bodily removed from office by enraged local populations who are tired of continued graft. And some are starting to say, "What have we got to loose by choosing another party".

     But there might be storm clouds on the horizon. The two other parties (PAN and PRI) have started a process to eliminate the most popular possible PRD candidate in the polls (México City mayor Lopez Obrador) from even being able to run for office. Using quirks of Mexican law and a two bit legal spat with the mayor, the process of stripping Lopez Obrador of his immunity of prosecution on this matter has started. If you are charged with a crime in México, you are presumed guilty no matter how absurd the charge is. Until proven innocent (sometimes it takes years) in this state, one cannot run for office.

     The obvious motivation here is to prevent Lopez Obrador from even running for president in the 2008 election.

     Already a protest organization project with "resistance committees" is being readied in case the congressional process to strip the immunity of the mayor succeeds. There are plans to start marches starting next week including blocking entrances to federal buildings in support of Lopez Obrador. And if Lopez Obrador is "eliminated" from running we will certainly see a steady escalation of these protests.

     While this writer does not express any political preference here, he is saying that the people do deserve the chance to vote on whatever candidate they want. To deny the people of their right of free choice by legal "tricks" will be an invitation to instability.

     Is that what our politicians really want? If so, they are playing with fire. It very well may become pots and pans time in México.
Richard N. Baldwin T., a HispanicVista.com (http://www.hispanicvista.com/) contributing columnist, lives in
Tlalnepantla, Edo de México. E-mail at: R1041643422@aol.com