Ibero-American News Digest
López Obrador Launches Next Phase of Resistance
With the recount of 9% of the Presidential vote concluded Aug. 13, and a decision by the Mexican electoral court in favor of Felipe Cálderon considered likely, despite the systematic irregularities uncovered in that recount, Mexican Presidential contender Andrés Manuel López Obrador told the fifth "Informational Assembly" in Mexico City's Zocalo that they should be prepared to resist for as long as it takesand it could be "years," he saidto achieve their goals. This new movement which came together to defend the vote will not disband if that battle is lost, but intends, "here and now," to bring about the profound transformation that Mexico requires.
López Obrador called for the movement to focus on five primary goals. The first, he said, is "to fight poverty and the monstrous inequality which reigns in our country." The second must be to defend the nation's patrimony. "We will not permit national assets to be sold off. We will not permit the privatization, under any modality, of the electrical industry, of oil, of public education, of social security, and of natural resources," he proclaimed.
Efforts to further cartelize the media in the hands of the privileged must likewise be crushed, in order to uphold the public's right to information. Nor can the corruption of having the government "be a committee at the service of a minority" be tolerated; "those who have committed abuses when in power and robbed Mexicans of their patrimony must be punished." Lastly, our civic institutions must be cleaned out, he said, because the institutions that are supposed to protect our constitutional rights have been "kidnapped by a cabal," who run the nation's tax and treasury policies, "solely for the benefit of bankers and influence traffickers," while the Supreme Court functions "at the service of tycoons and to protect white-collar criminals."
Should the electoral court proceed with the decision to impose PAN candidate Felipe Calderón as President, López Obrador announced that the movement will protest, in force, President Vicente Fox's State of the Union message on Sept. 1, and hold a "National Democratic Convention" in the Zocalo on Independence Day, Sept. 16, to discuss how the movement can organize to achieve these five goals, under the current, increasingly difficult circumstances.
The call for that convention, issued two days later, repeats that the movement must meet those five goals, and goes straight to the issue underlying the wrongs suffered in the country: Mexican institutions are not fulfilling their constitutional obligation to uphold the "general interest."
Repression Provokes Institutional Crisis in Mexico
The new political movement which has come into being in opposition to the theft of the Mexican election intends to defend nothing less than the principle of the general welfare; this has sent the Synarchists and their lackeys into outer orbit. They had pre-discounted that there could be weeks of protest against election fraud, but Andrés Manuel López Obrador trumped them, by going beyond mere protest, to mobilize Mexico's poor to demand changes in the economic system. Demands that López Obrador's movement be smashed and divided, poured out of the Economist, Financial Times, the Washington Post, and Washington's Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) last week. The line was primitive: López Obrador's PRD party and the Coalition have a few days to decide whether they will be "mature," and play by the rules of the current system, or continue this dangerous "radicalization." If they opt for the latter, once the electoral court issues its decision, President Vicente Fox "will have to restore order."
The first head-on repression against the civic resistance movement came on Aug. 14, when President Fox ordered Federal police and troops of the Presidential General Staff (a branch of the military) to forcibly remove the encampment of protesters which had set up outside the Mexican Congress that day. Using clubs and tear gas, the troops and police left some ten people injured, including several of the 20 Congressmen and Senators from López Obrador's PRD party who were participating in the encampment.
Not only were over 1,000 Federal police then deployed around the Congress outside, but some 200 commandos from the General Staff were installed inside the Congress, a move which has opened an institutional crisis in the country. The unprecedented deploymentinvolving more troops than have been used in any operation against narcos, as one PRD Congressman pointed outfollowing the use of brute force against a group of Congressmen and Senators, has provoked outrage from PRI members of Congress, as well as the PRD. Senator Dulce Maria Sauri (PRI) warned that the attack is reminiscent of the repression in the days of Victoriano Huertawhich led into the Mexican Revolution of 1917.
The Acting Mayor of Mexico City, Alejandro Encinas (PRD) warned that with the Executive branch's use of force, Mexico is being driven from a post-electoral crisis, into an institutional crisis.
Remittances from Abroad Sustain Mexican Economy
A Bank of Mexico official revealed on Aug. 10 that Mexico will receive almost $24 billion in remittances from abroad in 2006, a dramatic 20% increase over 2005 figures. And these increases will continue over the coming years, he predicted, because of how "attractive" it is to Mexicans to emigrate to the U.S. Credit Suisse economist Alonso Cervera hailed the inflow of these billions in remittances, which he said, is "driving consumption growth" in Mexico, as if it were joyous news that Mexicans must leave their country to survive economically.
In fact, virtually all of the money coming in from abroad is going to the immediate purchase of food, clothing, and basic needs, and none of it into savings. Rather than a reflection of economic growth, the "consumption demand" being fueled by remittances is painful evidence of how desperate the situation inside Mexico is. Without that money from abroad, a vast portion of the Mexican population would, in fact, be starving.
Argentina's Radical Party Splits Over Kirchner Support
Argentina's opposition Radical Party (UCR) is splitting over internal factional support for President Nestor Kirchner's mobilization to rebuild the country. On Aug. 12, three thousand UCR officials, including five governors and many mayors, met in Buenos Aires to state their support for Kirchner's idea of a broad national political coalition, in which politicians who agree with the government's stated goals and programmatic direction can participate, without abandoning their party affiliations. Immediately, this threw a monkey wrench into the Presidential ambitions of former Finance Minister Roberto Lavagnanominally a Perónistwhose 2007 bid is being aggressively promoted by UCR leader and former President Raul Alfonsin (1983-1989).
The UCR Mayor of Mar del Plata, Daniel Katz, warned Aug. 14 that when one faction is backing a non-Radical for President (Lavagna), "something is not right." Should Lavagna gravitate toward right-wingers Mauricio Macri and Ricardo López Murphy, neo-con free-marketeers who have just consolidated their own political alliance for 2007, there is no reason for any UCR member to back him, the mayor said. He contrasted the 52% of the vote that Alfonsin received in the 1982 Presidential elections, with the 2% the UCR received in the 2003 Presidential elections, to underscore the party's dwindling appeal.
In a statement issued after their Aug. 12 meeting, the UCR officials recalled that had Perónists and Radicals in 1973 placed national interests above their party bickering, then, "perhaps the bloodiest chapter in our recent history [the 1976 coup] might never have been written."
Bachelet Proposes Plebiscite on Electoral Reform
During her Socialist Party's Aug. 12 national congress, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet proposed that a national non-binding plebiscite be held on the issue of reforming the "binomial" electoral system. This mechanism, devised by former dictator Augusto Pinochet, rigged the electoral system to prevent any minority political party from obtaining congressional representation, and perpetuated the structure of a coalition government too weak to challenge the synarchist right wing in Congress. It is through this system that the "Chicago Boy" free-marketeers have maintained their control in the country, even after the return of "democracy."
The right-wing Alliance for Chile is blocking the constitutional amendment needed to proceed with the reform in Congress. There is overwhelming popular sentiment in favor of changing the rigged binomial system, universally viewed as unjust, and the mere suggestion of a referendum, albeit a non-binding one, has sent right-wing legislators scrambling to come up with a response. Although Bachelet subsequently indicated she would try to reach an agreement through dialogue with the right wing, many local and national organizations, including the CUT labor federation, the Medical College, and Municipal Healthworkers Federation, are urging her to move forward with the plebiscite.