Mexico: people challenge the state

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FRFI 193 October / November 2006

On 16 September up to a million supporters on the streets of Mexico City declared Lopez Obrador as the legitimate President of Mexico, following the country’s Electoral Tribunal’s decision that the ruling class candidate Felipe Calderon had won the fraudulent 2 July presidential election. The Tribunal ruled for Calderon despite acknowledging that outgoing President Fox’s interference in the election had put it ‘at risk’; that transnational and national corporation- funded anti-Obrador commercials were illegal; and that Calderon, whose claimed majority was a mere 237,000 or 0.55%, had been awarded thousands of unsubstantiated votes.

Obrador and his PRD (Party of the Democratic Revolution) have kept up mobilisations since the ruling class stole the elections. Gatherings of hundreds of thousands have taken place in Mexico City. Calderon is hounded wherever he goes and prevented from speaking at public rallies. The reasons for the massive support for Obrador and his anti-poverty message are clear. Of 44 million workers, only 22 million have formal employment; nine million have been forced to emigrate to the US to find work, and the rest are either unemployed or working in the informal sector in near destitution. Millions of farm workers face being thrown out of corn production because of subsidised US imports.


Obrador will be ‘inaugurated’ at a popular assembly on 20 November and will set up a parallel administration. He has declared that Calderon will not be able to govern, especially when it comes to the sale of state-owned oil company Pemex. Oaxaca, one of Mexico’s 31 states, is already proving ungovernable for the ruling class. Since the failed attempt to suppress striking teachers in June (see FRFI 192) a huge mass movement has taken over Oaxaca City. Organised through the Popular Assembly of the People of Oaxaca (APPO), the people have taken over the city hall and seized nine radio stations. Their immediate objective is the removal of the hated state governor Ulisses Ruiz. He has already fled the city. Ruiz won office through a fraudulent election and ruled with armed thugs. However, his attempt to smash the teachers with riot police on 14 June completely backfired. Three days later a state-wide popular assembly with representation from 85 popular organisations established APPO as the supreme authority in Oaxaca. On 1 August, women seized radio stations and the state television studios. For three weeks, ordinary people were able to broadcast across the state about the wretchedness of their lives: the lack of schools, of basic sanitation, the loss of their land to developers, of their suffering under neo-liberalism. TV station Channel 9 also broadcast a programme on the Palestinian people in the Occupied Territories. Police and state officials shot up and smashed equipment in the transmission tower. People responded seizing more radio stations to broadcast on behalf of APPO. APPO calls for a national popular assembly and for a constitutional convention. With the campaign for Obrador’s parallel government gathering momentum the Mexican ruling class has reason to be afraid.
Robert Clough