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Calderon wins Mexican presidential race - Obrador refuses to concede defeat

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  • #16
    MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Cold and wet from marathon street protests over election cheating claims, many supporters of Mexico's leftist opposition leader are losing hope that he can stop his conservative rival taking power.

    Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is vowing to fight on, for years if needed, with street protests to overturn July's presidential election result and stop the ruling party's Felipe Calderon from taking office.

    But most analysts see his chances of success as slim, financial markets are betting on Calderon as president and some protesters wonder whether their two weeks camped out in torrential downpours in Mexico City to demand a country-wide vote recount is being taken seriously.

    A growing number of Lopez Obrador's supporters are resigned to spending the next six years sniping at Calderon's presidency rather than stopping him from taking power, and think the civil resistance campaign needs a new direction.

    "We need to do something more creative that has more impact on society. People are already looking at the protest camps and accepting the situation," said Ernesto Rodriguez, 24, at his tent in the middle of the elegant Reforma boulevard that runs through Mexico City's main business district.

    "We need a different type of action that will generate more problems," he said.

    Lopez Obrador set up the camps to pressure Mexico's electoral court to recount every ballot in the July 2 election. The court instead opted to recount the tallies at just 9 percent of polling stations.

    That narrowed the gap between Calderon and Lopez Obrador by thousands of votes but it was not enough to change the result, and the electoral court is widely expected to confirm the conservative former energy minister's win.

    "We need other strategies to pressure the government. For me it's about monitoring every action they take so they govern correctly. The fight will go on," said protester Sara Rios.

    Demonstrators and federal police clashed on Monday for the first time since the protests began, when leftists tried to set up camp outside Mexico's Congress.

    While investors are worried about an escalation of violence and the danger of prolonged political unrest, both the peso currency and stocks have made strong gains since the election.

    "We need to use more pressure so the authorities know we are serious. It's obvious we need to step things up. Otherwise I'm skeptical about them doing the recount," said architecture student Carlos Alberto Montano, adding that conditions in the protest camps are sometimes miserable.

    "When it rains, it floods all around the tents. It's hard, because you have wet feet and you feel miserable. At night it's horribly cold."

    Demonstrators have already blockaded the stock exchange and several foreign-owned bank offices. Lopez Obrador now plans protests for President Vicente Fox's state of the nation speech in Congress on Sept 1. There is talk among protesters of calling a national strike and blocking U.S. border points.

    If the bid to stop Calderon from taking power on Dec 1 fails, an aide said Lopez Obrador will head resistance to his rival's presidency and keep up protests at the way the election was handled. Some analysts see strong support for that.

    "About 14 to 15 million people voted for Lopez Obrador. They won't all follow this but he has a strong core constituency," said John Ackerman, a professor at Mexico City's UNAM university.

    Mexico election protesters dig in but doubt victory


    • #17
      MEXICO CITY — A line of armored vehicles awaits outside Mexico's Congress building. Most are brand-new and have never seen action. But many Mexicans wonder whether their menacing presence is a harbinger of this divided country's future.

      Federal authorities deployed the tanks to prevent supporters of leftist presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador from shutting down Mexico's legislature in a bid to pressure the Federal Electoral Tribunal to order a full recount of all 41 million votes in the disputed July 2 presidential election.

      On Monday, the first and only street battle of Mexico's election controversy erupted outside Congress when federal police arrived to disperse supporters of Lopez Obrador. A handful of lawmakers were bruised in the melee.

      "What happened at the legislative palace may be a rehearsal for what we can expect after the tribunal renders its final decision," said Leo Zuckermann, a political analyst here. "Lopez Obrador knows he won't win before the tribunal…. What he is trying to accomplish now is to start a social movement."

      The tribunal's seven judges began meeting privately Thursday to debate the results of a partial recount of 4 million votes. They have until early September to declare a winner, but a decision is expected sooner.

      Conservative candidate Felipe Calderon led Lopez Obrador in the initial count by 244,000 votes. According to news reports and figures provided by the two campaigns, the partial recount will narrow Calderon's lead — but only by 7,000 to 13,000 votes.

      Legal experts say the tribunal probably will not order a full recount, although the judges could still annul the election and order a new vote for next year.

      Some members of Lopez Obrador's leftist Democratic Revolution Party, or PRD, have said they will launch a sustained nationwide program of civil disobedience if the tribunal declares Calderon the winner.

      Gerardo Fernandez Noroña, a Lopez Obrador aide, said Wednesday that the candidate's supporters would take a position of "rebellion in the face of authority" and might encourage Mexicans to stop paying taxes. However, Ferandez Noroña is known as a loose cannon, and some dismissed his statements as mere bluster.

      As the election saga reaches its endgame, there are also indications that some PRD members would balk at taking the radical actions that others in their party favor.

      "Violence and riots in the streets are a less probable outcome than many people in Mexico think," said Pamela Starr of Eurasia Group, a risk analysis firm. "But I wouldn't discount it either. With the current high levels of tension on the streets, it's easy for things to spin out of control."

      Lopez Obrador's supporters have shut down Paseo de la Reforma, the city's central axis, since July 30. Mexico City's notorious traffic has significantly worsened, turning even simple commutes into gridlock nightmares.

      Many residents say the capital is being held hostage by Lopez Obrador and his supporters. Even longtime backers of the leftist candidate have said the decision to blockade the capital's streets has been a grave political mistake.

      "The blockade … is an act of profound callousness that hurts a cause that belongs to many people," Carlos Monsivais and three other prominent leftist writers said in an open letter to Lopez Obrador. "Why pressure the powerful with actions that first and foremost hurt the popular classes?"

      The street barricades are seen as a political disaster for Alejandro Encinas, the outgoing mayor of Mexico City and a close Lopez Obrador ally.

      Encinas' approval rating has plunged since the protest movement began.

      The mayor controls Mexico City's police force — and the officers, rather than reopening the streets, appear to be acting as the protesters' security guards.

      Lopez Obrador said Aug. 13 that the street barricades would stay in place during President Vicente Fox's State of the Union speech Sept. 1 and during Mexico's Independence Day celebrations next month.

      When Calderon and Fox said preventing the Independence Day celebrations from going forward would be an assault on Mexican patriotism, Encinas responded that the barricades might be temporarily lifted to allow the traditional military parade. But the next day, Fernandez Noroña said the blockades would not be lifted.

      Fox has suggested he won't take any action against the protesters until the tribunal confirms the winner of the election.

      Addressing a group of supporters Thursday, Lopez Obrador said Fox might use the military to clear the streets by force. The candidate said his backers would resist any effort to provoke a confrontation with the military.

      "Do they think they're going to put a puppet president on the throne with the support of the army?" Lopez Obrador asked his supporters. "They're wrong. We are not going to give them any excuse to use force. We won't give them the pleasure of using their tanks."

      Mexico bracing for social unrest


      • #18
        MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico's electoral court on Monday will settle a fierce legal battle over last month's disputed presidential vote, although leftists who say it was rigged will almost certainly push ahead with street protests.

        The court's seven judges are widely expected to reject allegations of massive fraud and confirm the victory of conservative ruling party candidate Felipe Calderon.

        His razor-thin win in the July 2 election is being challenged by leftist rival Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who has launched street protests crippling central Mexico City.

        Lopez Obrador says there were serious irregularities at more than half the polling stations and has demanded a full recount of all 41 million votes cast. He insists he won the election and that a court ruling in favor of Calderon would merely complete the fraud.

        "It would be an abuse of the people's rights, a rupture of the constitutional order and a coup d'etat, which is offensive to millions of Mexicans," Lopez Obrador told supporters on Sunday in Mexico City's central Zocalo square, which they have turned into a tented protest camp for almost a month.

        Calderon, who campaigned on pro-business policies and would be an ally of the United States, insists the election was clean and has called on Lopez Obrador to drop his street protests.

        Lopez Obrador, who has vowed to overhaul economic policies to put the poor first, says he will not give up.

        The political crisis is the toughest test of Mexico's democracy since President Vicente Fox's election victory six years ago ended seven decades of one-party rule.

        The electoral court has already ruled out a full recount and instead ordered votes counted again at just 9 percent of polling stations. That failed to end the dispute.

        Calderon said the partial recount showed only minimal changes in the vote, while Lopez Obrador said it proved many ballot boxes were tampered with. He says almost 200,000 votes disappeared from some or were discovered in others.

        Decisions are final

        The original vote count gave Calderon victory with a margin of some 244,000 votes, or just 0.58 percentage point. The court has until September 6 to formally declare a president-elect.

        Electoral court judges are expected to rule on whether some polling station results should be annulled, and also on a wider complaint by the left that funding from business leaders and Fox's vocal support for Calderon's campaign warrant scrapping the entire election.

        Their decisions are final and cannot be appealed. The court's public session begins at 8 a.m. and could go on for hours, depending on whether it groups the well over 300 legal challenges into batches or addresses them one by one.

        If Calderon's victory is confirmed by the court, Lopez Obrador says he will either lead a civil resistance movement against his rival or set up some kind of parallel government.

        "We are going to create our own institutions," he said on Sunday. "Sovereignty lives in the people, the people rule."

        Judges to settle Mexico's bitter presidential vote


        • #19
          Mexican president Vicente Fox was forced to abandon his final state of the union address to the country's parliament yesterday after opposition legislators seized the podium where he was due to speak in protest at the result of the recent presidential election to choose his successor, which they claim was subject to vote-tampering and fraud.

          Dozens of leftish deputies stormed the stage of Mexico's congress shortly before Mr Fox was due to make his speech, waving placards accusing the country's leader of being a "traitor to democracy" and shouting slogans in demonstration against alleged state-sponsored fraud which they claim took place ahead of the July 2nd poll.

          The left-wing Party of the Democratic Revolution accuses the Mexican president of robbing their leader, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, of victory, claiming that he conspired with business groups to illegally campaign on behalf of his former energy minister, Felipe Calderon.

          Mr Calderon, leader of Mexico's ruling conservative group, the National Action Party (PAN), was declared the victor in the election after a count revealed that he had achieved a narrow victory over Mr Lopez Obrador to secure the country's presidency by just 244,000 votes out of the 41 million cast.

          Mexico's top electoral court rejected Mr Lopez Obrador's claim of fraud in the poll earlier this week, following weeks of protests by his supporters.

          Forced to cancel his final annual speech to the nation amid renewed opposition protests over the election of his successor, existing Mexican president Mr Fox left congress declaring that the demonstrating group of legislators had made it "impossible" to deliver his speech.

          Mr Fox, whose election in 2000 ended 71 years of one-party rule Mexico later delivered the speech in a televised address from his official residence, stressing that respect for the law was "not discretionary" in an attack on the behaviour of the opposition deputies.

          "Whoever attacks our laws and institutions also attacks our history and Mexico," said the country's current president, who is due to stand down from the role in December.

          "Mexico demands harmony, not anarchy," he added.

          Commentators say that public support for Mr Fox, who was hailed as a democratic hero in Mexico following his election six years ago, remains strong, but that the current political unrest in the country is threatening to undermine his legacy.

          Meanwhile, opposition leader Mr Lopez Obrador has scheduled a further rally of his supporters in Mexico City on September 16th, when he is expected to ask them to define his role as either head of an ongoing civil resistance movement or as a "legitimate president" elected by the will of the people.

          Addressing a protest rally in the capital city's Zocalo square yesterday, Mr Lopez Obrador urged demonstrators to refrain from marching on Mexico's parliament building and to ensure their political movement remained "peaceful".

          "We will not fall into any trap or allow ourselves to be provoked," he stressed.

          Protests prevent Mexican president’s address


          • #20
            Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the leader of the Mexican opposition, has said that he will never recognise his right-wing rival as president and vowed a "radical transformation" of the country by setting up a parallel government.

            Lopez Obrador, the former mayor of Mexico City, told a rally of thousands of supporters in the capital's main square: "We will never accept usurpation nor recognize a president-elect who is illegitimate."

            Mexico's electoral court is almost certain to confirm the ruling party's Felipe Calderon as president this week, but Lopez Obrador insists that he was robbed in the July 2 election.

            He said: "We are going for deep change, root change, because that is what Mexico needs. It is a radical transformation. We are going for the construction of a new country that is fair and honorable."

            For more than a month, his leftist supporters have been protesting the election result by occupying the giant Zocalo square, the symbolic centre of power in Mexico since Aztec times. They have also taken over a long section of the main Reforma boulevard, paralysing the city centre and causing traffic chaos.

            Lopez Obrador did not say how he plans to set up a parallel government but in the past he has said that his supporters could continue the current street protests for years if necessary. He has also promised to avoid violence.

            Calderon, a former energy minister favoured by business leaders for his free-market policies, says the election was fair and fully expects to be declared president.

            The court has already thrown out Lopez Obrador's allegations of massive fraud. However, it still has to give a final result, declare that the election was clean and name the winner.

            Leftist lawmakers seized the podium in congress and refused to allow Vicente Fox, the outgoing president, to deliver his last state of the nation address on Friday night. He withdrew from Congress and made his speech on TV instead.

            If Calderon is declared president, leftist deputies could repeat that tactic on December 1 when he would have to enter congress to don the presidential sash and give an acceptance speech to start his six-year term.

            Lopez Obrador said he and his supporters would draw up a plan for a new nation at a convention in the Zocalo on September 16, Mexico's independence day.

            He said: "We will not only decide on our form of government ... but something very important will also be defined: the basic plan for the transformation of Mexico."

            Mexico's top electoral court must declare a new president by Wednesday. Its ruling cannot be appealed.

            The initial result showed that Calderon, of the National Action Party, won by around 244,000 votes or just 0.58 of a percentage point.

            Mexican opposition vow radical changes


            • #21
              MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico's electoral court will name ruling party conservative Felipe Calderon president-elect on Tuesday, rejecting claims the fiercely disputed July 2 vote was unfair, sources said.

              Losing left-wing candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has alleged widespread vote-rigging, but the seven electoral court judges tossed out his fraud claims last week and they are to deliver their final ruling on Tuesday.

              Sources close to the court said on Monday the magistrates would declare the election process was clean, give a final vote count and confirm Calderon's razor-thin victory.

              "Everything appears to indicate the vote will be unanimous," one of the sources told Reuters.

              The election campaign and the fraud claims have split Mexico and posed a serious challenge to its young democracy just six years after President Vicente Fox's historic victory ended seven decades of one-party rule.

              Lopez Obrador, whose supporters have crippled central Mexico City with protests for the last month, says he will never recognize Calderon's victory and will set up a parallel government to overhaul Mexico.

              The leftist plans a massive rally in the city's vast Zocalo square on September 16, Mexico's independence day, to set up the government.

              Mexico's army parades in the Zocalo every independence day and some fear a possible clash with Lopez Obrador's followers.

              Fox tried to calm the waters on Monday. "Democracy means that the army should never, ever be used against the people," he said at a military ceremony in the capital.

              Lopez Obrador's leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution, or PRD, says Fox is a traitor to democracy and broke the law by backing Calderon's campaign with public funds. They also claim business leaders violated campaign finance rules in support of the conservative candidate.

              If electoral court judges accepted those arguments, they could annul the election and call a new vote, meaning Congress would have to pick an interim president.

              But even Lopez Obrador's team expects to lose the long court battle on Tuesday.

              "It's a done deal. There is no surprise that tomorrow they will formalize the imposition of the man who did not win the presidency," said PRD spokesman Gerardo Fernandez, adding the judges were serving the interests of Mexico's political right.

              The original election result gave Calderon a wafer-thin victory of around 244,000 votes, or 0.58 percentage points.

              Calderon's win is good news for the United States after years of a left-wing advances in Latin America. The Harvard-educated conservative plans to pass pro-business reforms and be a steady Washington ally in the region.

              His first challenge, however, will be to survive Lopez Obrador's protests and win over the 30 percent or more of Mexicans who still believe he stole the election.

              "We are going for deep change, root change, because that is what Mexico needs," Lopez Obrador said at a rally on Sunday.

              He also warned military chiefs not to move against his supporters, reminding them that a massacre of students in Mexico City in 1968 did great damage to the army's reputation.

              "They must not fall into the temptation of obeying orders to repress the people. When they have done it in other sad times, in dark periods, the army has been discredited."

              His street protests have lost steam recently, although the PRD could still make life difficult by blocking highways and using its position as the No. 2 party in Congress to block Calderon's planned economic reforms.

              PRD lawmakers prevented Fox from delivering his last annual state of the nation speech to Congress on Friday by seizing control of the podium and refusing to give way.

              Fox was forced to return to his residence but later delivered the speech in a national televised address.

              Mexico court will name Calderon president: sources


              • #22
                "There are no perfect elections."

                Felipe Calderon was declared president-elect Tuesday after two months of uncertainty, but his ability to rule effectively remained in doubt with Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador vowing to lead a parallel leftist government from the streets.

                The unanimous decision by the Federal Electoral Tribunal rejected allegations of systematic fraud and awarded Calderon the presidency by 233,831 votes out of 41.6 million cast in the July 2 elections - a margin of 0.56 percent. The ruling cannot be appealed.

                Calderon now must win over millions of Mexicans angry that President Vicente Fox, who is from Calderon's party, didn't make good on promises of sweeping change - and fend off thousands of radicalized leftists who say they will stop at nothing to undermine his presidency.

                Lopez Obrador, whose support is dwindling but becoming more radical, has said he won't recognize the new government and vows to block Calderon from taking power Dec. 1. Protesters outside the tribunal wept as the decision was announced and set off firecrackers that shook the building.

                "We aren't going to let him govern!" Thomas Jimenez, a 30-year-old law student, screamed as hundreds of protesters threw eggs and trash at the courthouse.

                The decision by the seven judges - who have split their votes in disputes about other elections - also found that Fox endangered the election by making statements that favored Calderon, and that business leaders broke the law by paying for ads against Lopez Obrador, who promised to govern on behalf of the poor.

                But the problems weren't serious enough to annul the results, they said.

                "There are no perfect elections," Judge Alfonsina Berta Navarro Hidalgo said.

                The court rejected most of Lopez Obrador's allegations, including his claim that an ad campaign comparing him to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez unfairly swayed voters. The court also dismissed Lopez Obrador's claim of subliminal messages in television ads by pro-Calderon businesses.

                The court's president, Leonel Castillo, called on Mexicans to unite and mend the deep divisions the election revealed.

                "I hope we conclude this electoral process leaving confrontation behind," he said.

                A smiling Calderon emerged from party offices to wave at supporters. He was scheduled to address the nation later Tuesday and meet with Fox on Wednesday.

                Calderon, a 44-year-old former energy secretary and career politician, promised during the campaign to create jobs and keep the economy growing, and since the election he has adopted some of Lopez Obrador's ideas on how to help Mexico's poor majority.

                Fox greeted the court's decision with a smile during an appearance in Cancun, then publicly congratulated Calderon and invited Lopez Obrador to begin talks aimed at "strengthening the nation and our democracy."

                Markets, which had expected Tuesday's ruling, were unchanged. World leaders, including Japan's prime minister and several Central American presidents, congratulated Calderon on his victory.

                Tuesday's ruling came two months, three days, and tens of thousands of pages of legal challenges after voters cast their ballots. In comparison, the U.S. presidential elections of 2000 remained in dispute for only 35 days.

                The decision was unlikely to end the demonstrations that have crippled Mexico City's center or to heal the nation's growing political divide.

                In the Zocalo plaza, thousands in a month-old protest camp chanted: "If there is no solution, there will be revolution!"

                "Taking up arms is the only way," said Angel Sinsun, 80. "They'll never give us power with peaceful resistance or with negotiations."

                Lopez Obrador has called on his followers to remain peaceful. His movement has become increasingly radicalized since the election, and polls indicate he lost support after lawmakers from his party blocked Fox's last state-of-the-nation address on Friday.

                On Tuesday, the Convergencia party - one of three that nominated Lopez Obrador for the presidency - left the electoral alliance, saying "it is time to rethink strategies."

                Lopez Obrador adviser Manuel Camacho told The Associated Press that the court's recommendation "does not take into account what is actually happening in the country."

                "The court is going to be questioned seriously about its decision," he said, adding: "We have the responsibility to conduct ourselves peacefully."

                No violence was reported, but police surrounded the headquarters of Calderon's National Action Party, where businesswoman Susanna Rivera was among a few drivers honking in support of the conservative former energy secretary.

                "It's marvelous. It's perfect," she said of the court's decision. "We are happy because he is a decent, educated person." She said Lopez Obrador's supporters would never accept Calderon because "they are a bunch of crazies."

                Neither candidate attended the court session. Lopez Obrador ate breakfast with lawmakers, then went to his protest tent in the Zocalo plaza, where he has been sleeping for nearly two months.

                Supporters greeted him with calls of "You are not alone!"

                Calderon named Mexico's president-elect


                • #23
                  Protesters defiant as conservative wins Mexico poll


                  • #24
                    MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico's leftist leader made a concession to the army on Sunday by relaxing protests against President-elect Felipe Calderon to allow a military parade in a move that lessens the chance of street violence.

                    Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who says he was robbed of victory in the July 2 election, told supporters to suspend a huge sit-in to make way for a highly symbolic independence day military parade in the center of the capital on Saturday.

                    Independence day was seen as a possible focus of clashes between leftists and troops but Lopez Obrador backed off, telling supporters to "step aside" to let the parade pass.

                    "We don't have a problem with the military institution, with the Mexican army," the leftist told a rally. "We must be very aware that most of the troops belong to the people, they are sons and relatives of people in our movement," he said.

                    It was not clear whether he would permanently dismantle a tent city that sprawls across much of the capital's downtown area, causing daily gridlock that has infuriated commuters.

                    An electoral court named Calderon president-elect last week, throwing out Lopez Obrador's claims of widespread vote rigging. The judges' ruling cannot be appealed and the conservative will take office on December 1.

                    A dirty election campaign and mass street protests have split Mexico between Lopez Obrador's mostly poor power base and supporters of Calderon from the wealthier classes.

                    Calderon's supporters had to delay celebrating after his election win due to Lopez Obrador's fraud challenge, which left Mexico in political limbo for two months.

                    But on Sunday they took part in a highly choreographed rally in a Mexico City bull ring to let off steam, pouring into the streets afterward to cheer Calderon's heavily guarded convoy through a victory lap.

                    Speaking before tens of thousands of supporters amid a fanfare of ticker-tape and mariachi bands, Calderon was conciliatory, urging supporters to work alongside those who had opposed him to help him create jobs, cut crime and poverty.

                    "We will understand each other by talking to each other, not by fighting," he said.

                    Lopez Obrador called on his backers to protest in the square on September 15 when President Vicente Fox is due to address the nation in a highly symbolic and raucous annual celebration of independence from Spain that draws thousands of revelers.

                    The left says Fox is part of a fraud that let ruling party candidate Calderon win the election by only 234,000 votes out of 41 million. He likely will be heckled during the ceremony.

                    The leftists plan to hold a convention in the Zocalo later on September 16 after the military parade has passed, in which they will decide how best to continue with a campaign of civil disobedience they have vowed not to abandon.

                    Mexico's left gives way to army


                    • #25
                      At midnight, as Sept. 15 becomes Sept. 16, Mexicans traditionally look to their president as he ritually rings a bell and swings the flag in commemoration of the Mexican war for independence. Usually, it is a night of celebration. This year, however, the event will be marked by political struggle as two factions continue to compete for the people's acceptance as a legitimate government: conservative President Vicente Fox and his protege, Felipe Calderon of the Partido Accion Nacional, and on the other side, Lopez Obrador of the left-leaning Partido de la Revolucion Democratica.

                      After two months of protests and serious allegations of fraud, the electoral court in Mexico has nonchalantly appointed Calderon president-elect. In spite of the ruling, Lopez Obrador has refused to concede and recognize Calderon. Instead, he has vowed to create a parallel government. Tonight, Obrador will symbolically challenge President Fox by giving the traditional cry of independence.

                      The conservative PAN went for broke during the race for the presidency in order to derail Obrador's impending victory. In their eyes, the end justified the means, and throughout the presidential race they demonized Obrador as a communist revolution waiting to happen. They stoked latent class fear, especially in one of the world's most unequal societies. Faced with Obrador's threat to the hegemony of a parasitical political class, Calderon and the PAN hired New York-based ad agency Ogilvy & Mather and Dick Morris, the man who engineered President Clinton's re-election, to oversee Mexico's dirtiest campaign ever. Here, Mexico took a page from Bush's "War on Terror" and presented Obrador as a "threat to democracy and security" within Mexican borders.

                      The PAN succeeded in deforming a choice between two political agendas into a struggle for the survival of the status quo over the apocalyptic threat the Obrador and the PRD posed. The media campaign had no tie to reality and felt no responsibility to keep attacks grounded in the truth. For months, Obrador was branded "a danger to Mexico" on TV, until the electoral authority had the nerve to enforce the law and order these spots off the air. Now it seems this strategy has eked out a win for the conservatives. But these dirty tactics will prove to have long-lasting detriment if the Mexican government continues to turn a blind eye to growing popular discontent and misery.

                      Popular outrage and discontent as institutions sweep dirt beneath the rug have reached into institutions themselves. Such political tension in Mexico was clear Sept. 1 of this year as 155 senators and congressmen of the PRD stood up in support of Obrador and would not allow President Fox to deliver his scheduled speech to the Mexican nation. This is the first time in Mexico's history that such presidential speech has been thwarted. Furthermore, Alejandro Encinas, the head of Mexico City's government, declared that he will not accept Felipe Calderon as the future president of Mexico, providing city resources and backing to Lopez Obrador and his many supporters.

                      These two institutional examples, along with Obrador's popular support, set the stage for further turmoil against a government that has been unwilling to let itself be taken by the people's will. It has long been able to remain impervious to the nation's hunger for food and dignity, relying on illegal immigration into the United States to alleviate the pressure of an unsustainable system. Illegal immigration is required by Mexico's government to maintain a pretense of prosperity, for it reduces unemployment in a nearly stagnant economy and brings in huge foreign income.

                      Now Mexico's failure to provide livelihood and opportunity for millions of citizens has finally brought U.S. backlash in the form of unilateral legislation on immigration and the building of a fence across part of the border. Ironically, American corporations backed Calderon's campaign heavily as he promised "incentives for foreign investment." Blinded by greed for easy profits to be made in Mexico, they set the stage for increased migration into the United States. In addition, the Bush administration, rather than leveraging pressure for a recount, has backed the illusion of democracy and praised President Fox for the "strength of Mexico's institutions." Perhaps the man believes that war is the only tool of democracy.

                      The institutions that Bush praises are designed to launder the extreme inequality in Mexico into a pretense of democracy, and are responsible for the increased strain on America. For if you are born to a family from the wrong side of the tracks, you must cross the border into the United States to have any chance of improving your situation. In fact, in more than 20 years, average wages in Mexico have not so much as budged. And despite the incessant propaganda that these elections are just, many people rightfully see through the smoke and mirrors. Hunger will not be appeased by television coverage. But the immigrants I've asked in New Haven have never been fooled. Every time I asked them if they would vote in Mexico's elections, they smiled wryly, saying, "We know who the government is for, and it's not for us." This situation is unsustainable, and will deteriorate if it is not changed. Obrador is justified in pressing the cracks in the system to achieve a more democratic society.

                      Mexico’s current version of democracy not sustainable


                      • #26
                        MEXICO CITY (AP) - President Vicente Fox celebrated Independence Day at the traditional military parade Saturday, while supporters of leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador massed at an outdoor gathering expected to acclaim him leader of a "parallel government.''

                        Fox reviewed thousands of military personnel from a vehicle that rolled through the capital's enormous Zocalo square one day after Lopez Obrador's activists agreed to permanently remove squatter camps that have snarled traffic in the capital's center for nearly seven weeks.

                        Small groups pushed up against barricades holding signs reading "Fox, crook'' and "Vote by vote,'' a reference to their failed demand for a full recount of the July 2 presidential election that Lopez Obrador lost by less than 0.6 percent - a loss he attributed to fraud.

                        Others in the crowd cheered Fox and the new president-elect, Felipe Calderon of Fox's conservative National Action Party.

                        A military band played loudly over the conflicting groups and members of the president's security guard stood by to prevent violence. No major incidents were reported.

                        On Friday night, as holiday celebrations kicked off, Fox stayed away from the Zocalo, where Mexico's president traditionally issues "el grito,'' or cry of independence. He went to another city to avoid any confrontation with Lopez Obrador loyalists who announced they would hold their own party on the square.

                        Lopez Obrador claims the election was tainted by fraud and refuses to accept Calderon's victory, which was certified this month by the country's highest electoral court. He accused Fox of illegally spending government money to help Calderon win, a charge Fox vehemently denied.

                        Just minutes after the last of the military units marched from the Zocalo, Lopez Obrador's supporters moved back in, carrying large yellow flags of his leftist Democratic Revolution Party and setting up temporary meeting places for their "National Democratic Convention.''

                        Shouts of "Obrador! Obrador!'' were interspersed with organ-grinder music and the loud squawk of plastic horns blown to celebrate Independence Day.

                        After a series of daylong meetings by various state delegations, convention members were expected to vote by a show of hands to declare Lopez Obrador as Mexico's "legitimate'' president and formally refuse to accept Calderon's administration. Calderon is scheduled to take office Dec. 1.

                        Lopez Obrador said he hoped to mass as many as 1 million people for the event. However, the Zocalo can accommodate fewer than 200,000 people, according to calculations by several local news media and an architects association.

                        "It's going to be a historic event for Mexico,'' said Mario Balbino, a 39-year-old electrical technician from the State of Mexico, adjacent to the capital, who planned to attend the convention. "We will make decisions so that there is a change in this country.''

                        Actress and convention organizer Jesusa Rodriguez, performing in the Zocalo on Friday night, said Mexicans of every social class, color and creed - "all Mexicans who want to change the system, who are tired of corruption and impunity'' - were welcome at the convention.

                        Lilia Hernandez, a 40-year-old accountant from Mexico City, said she supported the convention because "I think Lopez Obrador has some real proposals aimed at helping the poor,'' who make up nearly half of Mexico's population of 107 million.

                        Lopez Obrador told followers in the Zocalo on Friday that he was "not giving up or giving in,'' and he vowed to follow the convention with a nationwide tour.

                        Mexican election still causing conflict


                        • #27
                          Supporters of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, Mexico's left-wing presidential runner-up, voted on Saturday to make him the leader of a parallel government.

                          The vote - which was a show of hands in the packed Zocalo square - was the latest development in Mexico's months-long electoral dispute.

                          The massive meeting took place just hours after Vicente Fox, the outgoing conservative president, celebrated independence day with a massive military parade in the square.

                          Lopez Obrador is to be sworn into his new post as "legitimate president" on November 20.

                          The vote was greeted by applause.

                          The parallel government plans to spend the next six years trying to keep Felipe Calderon, the president-elect, from governing.

                          Tens of thousands of left-wing supporters celebrated the traditional independence "grito", or cry, in Mexico City's Zocalo square on Friday night after forcing Vicente Fox, the outgoing president, to lead a separate ceremony outside the capital.

                          But the supporters removed squatter camps from the city centre, which it had blocked for nearly seven weeks in protest at what it says was fraud in the July 2 elections, to allow the military parade to go ahead on Saturday.

                          Fox and Calderon, a member of Fox's conservative National Action Party, reviewed the parade as about 200 supporters of Lopez Obrador waved posters that read "Fox, traitor to democracy".

                          But just minutes after the parade left the Zocalo, leftists moved back in, carrying the large yellow flags of the Democratic Revolution Party and preparing for the massive open-air meeting.

                          The left claims Fox played a part in election fraud which it says cheated Lopez Obrador of the presidency.

                          Antonio Fernandez, a pensioner, said: "Fox betrayed the Mexican people. That is unforgivable. Lopez Obrador is my president."

                          Mexico's election court rejected the fraud claims and Calderon is due to take office on December 1.

                          Mexico has also said it is considering breaking off diplomatic relations with Venezuela after its president, Hugo Chavez, echoed the fraud allegations.

                          Chavez said in Caracas last week that his government had not recognized Calderon's victory because of concerns about alleged irregularities.

                          He apparently expanded on his allegations Saturday when interviewed by CNN at the Non-Aligned Movement summit in Havana.

                          A CNN anchor said Chavez accused Mexico's ruling party of stealing the presidential elections, and that he said Calderon had "destroyed" the opportunity for good relations with Venezuela during his campaign.

                          In a statement emailed to reporters the Mexican foreign ministry said: "The Mexican government regrets this statement by the Venezuelan leader about a subject that pertains exclusively to Mexicans and their institutions."

                          "In light of these statements, the Mexican government is evaluating the level of relations it will maintain with the government of Venezuela for the rest of this administration."

                          Mexican left in parallel government


                          • #28
                            The uncertainty over Mexico's political future has taken a new twist after supporters of the defeated presidential candidate elected him to lead a "parallel" government that will spend the next six years opposing the man who won the election.

                            By a show of hands, hundreds of thousands of supporters of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador voted for the former mayor of Mexico City to head the alternative government that will oppose the administration of the president-elect, Felipe Calderon. Suitably enough, the vote was taken in the central plaza, or Zocalo, which has been home to his campaign for many months.

                            "It should be clear why we've taken this road," Mr Lopez Obrador said. "It's not because of a whim, or anything personal ... This is the firm and honourable response to those who have converted our political institutions into a grotesque farce." Quite what form the parallel government of the left-wing Mr Lopez Obrador will take is unclear, though supporters said he would work with a full cabinet. A number of committees have already been formed. Saturday's demonstration in support of Mr Lopez Obrador brought supporters from across the country. Pedro Perez, a 61-year-old coffee exporter from Mexico City, watched from a hotel rooftop. He told the Associated Press: "This is a very important day for all of us who have defended democracy and want the country to change for the good of everyone."

                            Earlier this month, Mexico's federal electoral tribunal dismissed Mr Lopez Obrador's claims that the election had been undermined by fraud and awarded victory to the US-educated, conservative Mr Calderon by around 240,000 votes.

                            Mexico's uncertainty grows with 'parallel' government


                            • #29
                              MEXICO CITY - Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador launched a parallel government Monday and prepared to swear himself in as Mexico’s “legitimate” president, a ceremony the leftist hopes will keep alive protests to undermine the man who officials say defeated him at the polls.

                              The inauguration ceremony is the latest chapter in Lopez Obrador’s unsuccessful battle for the presidency. He claims fraud and dirty campaign tactics were responsible for President-elect Felipe Calderon’s narrow victory in the July 2 vote, and his parallel government could spend the next six years calling for street protests that have already dented the economy and prompted travel warnings from the U.S. Embassy.

                              While the red-green-and-white presidential sash to be draped across Lopez Obrador’s shoulders Monday will lack legal recognition, he hopes to assume the moral leadership of millions of poor Mexicans.

                              Based in Mexico City, Lopez Obrador’s parallel government has its own Cabinet, but it will not collect taxes or make laws and relies on donations to carry out its plans.

                              One of its first orders of business will be trying to prevent Calderon’s Dec. 1 inauguration.

                              “We’re not going to give the right free rein,” Lopez Obrador said in a final stop in the southeastern state of Veracruz this weekend. “We’re going to confront it.”

                              Thousands of Lopez Obrador’s supporters were gathering in the afternoon in Mexico City’s main Zocalo plaza, carrying signs lashing out against not only Calderon but the Roman Catholic Church and mainstream media.

                              “Calderon will have to be retrained or will have to go,” said Maria de Lourdes Carranza, 50, a Mexico City office worker.

                              Marco Ramirez, 34, a university researcher watching the crowd from a sidewalk cafe, said he believed many of the demonstrators were receiving money from the Mexico City government, which is run by Lopez Obrador’s Democratic Revolution Party.

                              “This affects the country’s image,” he said. “It puts out a very bad image.”

                              It remains to be seen whether Lopez Obrador can keep up the momentum. Some members of his leftist Democratic Revolution Party, or PRD, have already expressed disagreement with Lopez Obrador’s strategy of using Congress - where the PRD is now the second-largest force - as an arena for protests rather than negotiations.

                              Writing in the Mexico City daily Reforma, columnist Armando Fuentes described Lopez Obrador’s “swearing in” ceremony as “laughable” and “a circus act, a farce.”

                              But Oscar Aguilar, a political science professor at the Iberoamerican University, cautioned that the leftist could successfully undermine Calderon.

                              “The problem is that he’s not a Don Quixote because the social and political conditions are fertile ground for this kind of leadership,” Aguilar said. “Many of the poor ... see this type of leadership as a solution.”

                              Protesters have held the center of the southern city of Oaxaca for months, demanding Gov. Ulises Ruiz’s ouster, despite the presence of federal police. Many worry that Lopez Obrador will follow suit and renew street protests, including those in which his supporters seized Mexico City’s center for nearly two months this summer.

                              Some citizens appear to be tiring of political unrest.

                              This month, Mexico City was rattled when several bombs exploded at political offices and banks. No one was injured, and a small, radical group not tied to Lopez Obrador claimed responsibility.

                              The violence has affected one of the country’s main sources of income. Revenue from tourism was down 4.3 percent in the first nine months of 2006, as compared to 2005.

                              President Vicente Fox cautioned in a speech Monday that “the electoral process is the path that Mexicans have to preserve a peaceful, orderly, civilized and pluralistic public and political life.”

                              Some of Lopez Obrador’s closest aides have suggested they will follow Bolivia’s example and try to use protests to force Calderon from office, as demonstrators did with a succession of leaders there. Lopez Obrador has not ruled that out.

                              “Nobody wants violence in our country, but there are people who give grounds for violence,” Lopez Obrador said last week. “There are a lot of people who say that, after July 2, the path of electoral politics in no longer viable.”

                              Mexican leftist Lopez Obrador to swear self in as head of parallel government


                              • #30
                                Mexican politicians threw punches and chairs and fought for control of the congressional chambers before Felipe Calderon was to take the country’s presidential oath of office.

                                Ruling party officials seized the speaker's platform where Calderon was supposed to appear, while leftist opponents blocked most of the chamber's doors.

                                The brawl was broadcast live on television. Calderon later took to the Speaker's platform and swore to uphold the constitution, under the protection of political allies.

                                Vicente Fox, Mexico's outgoing president, stood to the side of Calderon as he took the oath.

                                Carlos Navarette, Senate leader for leftist Democratic Revolution (PRD), had earlier said his party would do everything it could to keep Calderon out.

                                "We'll see if he can get in," Navarette said, adding: "If he does take office, it will be at his own risk."

                                Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the PRD's former presidential candidate, said he would march peacefully with his supporters to the national auditorium, where Calderon was scheduled to address the nation.

                                Mexican law prevents security officials from searching politicians. Police officers were not allowed in the congressional chamber.

                                The disagreements broke out as dignitaries arrived in Mexico, including George H Bush, former US president, and Enrique Bolanos, Nicaragua's president.

                                Rivals scuffle in Mexican congress


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