By Richard N.
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
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
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
de México. E-mail at: