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Damage Control….in Full Swing

8 September 2006

The people have voted, the votes have been counted and some re-counted, TRIFE has declared the winner(Calderon). The loser (Obrador) ain’t movin’, and therein lies the problem. There is no doubt that Mexico’s Presidential election was fraught with irregularities. If Calderon is to enact his policies, he must cut into AMLO’s substantial support.

It’s an ugly business. We’ve been listening to the pundits preditions, of AMLO’s refusal to accept the new government, leading Mexico into a bloody civil war. Obrador has been labeled a “dangerous messianic mad-man” by some critics.

From the Taipei Times:

“What we Mexicans want is stability, order and harmony,” Fox said. Society rejects extremist solutions, and messianic or apocalyptic visions that belong to the political culture of the past.

Opponents have frequently used the term “messianic” to describe Lopez Obrador, citing his devotion and the leftist’s belief in his own personal sense of mission. It’s another case of trash talk/demonize your opponent/attack his or her character. We witnessed these tactics in the U.S. when our administration felt threatened by John Kerry and Max Cleland. When Cindy Sheehan, mother of a dead American soldier (in Iraq), began a movement to end the war in Iraq, Pres. Bush’s associates began what Frank Rich (New York Times) called the “Swift Boating of Cindy Sheehan”. She was called a crackpot (Fred Barnes) and a whack job. For an added punch, she was accused of being a secret agent of Michael Moore.

When Rep. John Murtha addressed the Congress and called for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq, he was accused of being a “coward” by House Speaker Dennis Hastert, Rep. J.D. Hayworth and Majority Leader Roy Blunt. None of these three yahoos had had any military service. Murtha (ironically) spent 37 yrs. in the service and had been awarded 2 Purple Hearts, 1 Bronze Star with a combat “V”, and a Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry. There is no shame!

Those in power in Mexico…. or about to be in power, seem to be ready, willing and able to follow suit in the case of Obrador. No means to neutralize him will be overlooked.

The following is exerpted from the Nation article: (John Ross)

The president-elect (Calderon) will no doubt seek to split AMLO’s forces, offering members of López Obrador’s Congressional delegation minor Cabinet posts and canonazos (“cannonades” of pesos) to neutralize the coalition’s strength in the new legislature, where it is now the second-largest political force. Calderón cannot pass proposed constitutional changes such as the promised privatization of the national petroleum monopoly PEMEX without a two-thirds majority in both houses.

Calderón is also expected to pump windfall profits from $70-a-barrel oil into social programs to undercut López Obrador’s deep support among the underclass, an obligatory strophe for unpopular Mexican presidents.

As was the case with Carlos Salinas after the long-ruling (seventy-one years) PRI party stole the presidency for him back in 1988 from López Obrador’s onetime mentor and now archrival, Cuauhtemoc Cardenas, Calderón will have more support outside Mexico than inside. Both George Bush and US Ambassador Tony Garza were quick to congratulate Calderón following the July 2 balloting. Now that the TRIFE has confirmed his “victory,” Washington and European Union members–like Spain’s prime minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero–are eager to get in on the ground floor of the PEMEX fire sale and will seek to legitimize Calderón’s presidency beyond Mexico’s borders.

But within the boundaries of this distant neighbor nation, diminishing AMLO’s immense popularity and isolating him from his political base may not be all that simple. Whenever challenged by the Fox administration, López Obrador has been able to mobilize millions. Following the disputed July 2 election he has organized the largest political demonstrations in the history of the republic. Calderón’s only option may be mano dura, the “hard hand.”

Fox’s attorney general, Carlos Abascal, has already warned that should López Obrador form a parallel government, he could be tried for usurpation of powers, a crime that carries a hefty prison sentence. López Obrador’s Party of the Democratic
Revolution is being threatened with the loss of its electoral registration for preventing Fox from delivering his State of the Union address. But in the past, such threats have succeeded only in boosting AMLO’s numbers.

Indeed, López Obrador’s commitment to resisting the Calderón presidency could well come down to eliminating his physical presence altogether. Such a development has ample historical precedent in Mexican power politics. In 1994 PRI presidential candidate Luis Donaldo Colosio was gunned down after he turned against his predecessor, Salinas. Agrarian martyr Emiliano Zapata met a similar fate in 1919 when he proved too troublesome for the Carranza government. One of López Obrador’s role models, Francisco Madero, was assassinated soon after the stolen 1910 election that triggered the Mexican revolution and eventually installed him as Mexico’s first democratically elected president.

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