COLUMN OF THE AMERICAS
SEPT. 18, 2006
MEXICO'S LATEST INSURGENT REVOLT
MACEHUAL: BY ROBERTO RODRIGUEZ
Part 2 on the meaning of the 16th of Sept.
As of Sept 16th of this year – Mexican Independence Day -- Mexico now
has two presidents… and the nation is quiet. Actually, for the moment,
Mexico has one official president, and two incoming ones; an official
president-elect, and the "legitimate president of Mexico."
Also, Mexico now has two governments (in-waiting) and two republics.
One can even say that Mexico has always consisted of two nations… one
for the benefit of, EuroAmerican elites and their allies and the other
one consisting of its brown Indigenous masses.
This has always been the history of Mexico. Yet, Mexico today is in
unchartered waters. On Sept 16th, more than 1.25 million delegates of
the recently concluded democratic national convention branded the July
2 presidential election as illegal and named Andres Manuel Obrador, of
the PRD (Partido de la Revolucion Democratica), as the legitimate
president of Mexico. They also denounced the incoming president,
Felipe Calderon of the conservative PAN (Partido Accion Nacional), as
an usurper, the victor of a fraudulent election. While Obrador and his
supporters are expected to mount a peaceful resistance campaign, he is
scheduled to take the reins of a "new republic" on Nov. 20 -- another
symbolic date as that is when the nation celebrates its 1910
Meanwhile, current president, Vicente Fox, (morally tainted by his
interference in the July 2 presidential election), is so weak that he
had to skip town to do the traditional Grito de Dolores in Guanajuato
– a major acknowledgement that the moral power of his office has
shifted from under his feet.
The stage is thus set for Dec. 1 when Fox's party colleague, Calderon,
will then become Mexico's 73rd official president. (Obrador's
supporters will at that time also attempt to impede his ascension). At
this point, Mexico will then be split in two… unless some other
development impedes this unprecedented and radical scenario.
For instance, Fox could declare the "new republic" to be illegal and
order the military to seize Obrador and the other insurgent leaders.
(His supporters will not take this sitting down).
Or… akin to people power in the Philippines of a generation ago,
perhaps Obrador's supporters will lay a moral siege on the
presidential palace – vowing not to leave until Calderon abdicates.
Another scenario is that Fox – who has been relatively quiet thus far,
will not do anything, allowing Calderon to militarily put down this
incipient, though non-violent, insurgency.
In any of these scenarios, another force – the Zapatistas and the
nation's Indigenous movement -- could descend upon the capital and
decisively tilt this moral and political battle in favor of the
insurgents. The Zapatistas have thus far stayed out of the entire
electoral fray, instead mounting La Otra Campaña – a campaign that
seeks to create a Mexico that will never again exploit or take
advantage of the nation's Indigenous populations.
The one other possibility is that Obrador's supporters may simply be
permitted to function as a non-violent national opposition movement.
Because the nation is seemingly evenly split (Out of 41 million votes
cast, Calderon won but by 240,000 votes), indeed, it is the military
that may either have the final say… or trigger a wide-scale revolt.
The question on everyone's mind is: how did it get this far?
For this, we have to understand the close 1988 election. Obrador and
his supporters feel that one election was already stolen. In 1988,
during the count, the election computers mysteriously crashed for
several days. Cuauhtémoc Cardenas of the PRD had been ahead, but when
they came back online, Carlos Salinas of the ruling-PRI emerged
That's partially why Obrador and his supporters do not simply accept
the suspect results. He of course has said all along that if there
were a complete recount, he would abide by the results. The nation's
electoral body refused that, thus, the standoff.
Also, the 1994 Zapatista rebellion is in the backdrop, with its
leaders proclaiming at that time that never again would there be a
Mexico without Indigenous peoples (Nunca Jamas un Mexico sin nosotros)
and that women can never again be remanded to secondary status.
With all these dynamics at work, there are too many variables to
predict what is in store for Mexico's future.
* * * * *
The only thing that is certain about Mexico at this historical
juncture is that the meaning of the 16th of September continues to not
only have relevance today, but it is very much alive. The 16th
continues to be – not about claiming Hispanic roots and donning big
sombreros and throwing gritos at beer industry-sponsored events (as is
now customary in the United States), but about a 500-year daily
struggle in which Mexicans everywhere continue to fight not just for
their independence (from Europe and now the United States), but also
for peace, dignity and justice.
Gonzales/Rodriguez can be contacted at: XColumn@gmail.com or
608-238-3161. Our columns are posted at: