Skip to content

AMLO is back… he never went away

25 June 2007

Most of the foreign press thought it was some kind of joke when Andres Manuel Lopez Obradór was sworn in as “legitimate president” of Mexico, forgetting previous losing candidates (assuming AMLO really did lose) have done the same thing: the practice was started by Manuel Clouthier of PAN (Vicente Fox was his Agriculture Secretary), even though PAN clearly and decisively lost in 1988.

The 1988 election held another lesson for AMLO. That year too, a leftist coalition candidate either lost (or had the election stolen, which is more probable, and confirmed by those involved in stealing it). Cardenas backers were likely to rebel, and only systematic changes in the political and social system prevented overt violence. However, PRD (the party that came out of Cardenas’ coalition) members were killed, and there were serious frauds until it was able to make itself part of the political mainstream.

I hadn’t expected much from AMLO’s shadow government beyond a “think tank” (like Clouthier intended) and some legislative action. Cardenas made a tactical mistake by allying with the Zapatistas, who were anti-PRI, but — as traditionalists, have more in common with PAN, and generally work against democratic leftists like PRD. By avoiding the anti-democratic groups, and by focusing on party-building and realistic political change, the out-of-the-spotlight AMLO may surprise us yet again.

I’ll give AMLO this, too. He was locked out of the “mainstream media” for the last year, but he seems to have captured the geek vote… he’s all over the internet… how much “real” support he has is hard to gauge, though I suspect his urban support is much higher than thought, especially outside of the North. Unlike the Zapatistas, he’s not making a foreign appeal, so has been ignored by even the U.S. “progressives.” But, given the undercurrent of dissatisfaction with the Calderón regime, from peasant groups, the poor and organized labor, and not much reported problems in places like Puebla (where the Governor is about to be impeached), there may be more support outside Mexico City than we think.

I somewhat changed the article to fit U.S. style reporting for my translation of Rogelio Hernández López interview with the CND’s Rafael Hernandez Estrada in today’s Milenio.

Less than two weeks from now, we will mark the first anniversary of the Federal Elections. In the Capital, at Monterrey 50, headquarters of the Broad Progressive Front (FAP, for its initials in Spanish), Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador is presiding at a series of meetings with federal and local legislators, party leaders and civil servants. The “legitimate president” is accompanied by members of his cabinet and leaders of the National Democratic Convention (CND in Spanish), taking in and recording testimonies of electorial fruad, the general health of the movement and “doing everything possible to bring more people to the Zocalo on July 1 than showed up March 25”.

Does it mean anything? Rafael Hernandez Estrada, general coordinator of the CND thinks it does:

In short, this will prove that the movement is not failing.” He is not in the least disturbed by criticism of the movement, listening between sips of coffee:

The insurgency did not force Felipe Calderón to resign; state coalitions were not organized; the FAP has not coalesced into a formal aliance; State and Municipal CND chapters have not been created; the “legitimate president’s” cabinet has not so much been a people’s government as a leadership forum for the die-hards in the parties; the citizen networks have all but disappeared; and resent polls and elections indicate a disasterous fall from the coalition of July 2. Are the hard-liners the only remaining force? not become nor consolidated the electoral alliance of Progressive the Extended front; state and municipal structures of the CND were not created either; the credencializados ones of the “legitimate government” are not people who outside other people’s to the policy, but in fact are such militant of the allied parties and some others of their hard vote; the citizen networks instead of growing disappeared; the recent surveys and elections indicate a vertiginous fall of the preferences of votes that obtained the 2 of July… They are remaining only with the duros?

Rafael Hernandez is non-plussed. As in the CND meetings, he does not take notes, but considers each question separately.

Look, in all the internal meetings which I have attended, Andrés Manuel has insisted on a balanced representation – the CND, the FAP, the legitimate cabinet and the PRD. Hernandez Estrada himself is also a leader in the PRD’s New Left faction.

“Andrés concluded this year, after meetings with tens of thousands of people in more than 500 municipalities that the decicision we made last July 2 was correct.

“First, never before in the history of Mexico have so many women and men expressed their desire to change the political system, and mobilized to do so. That is extraordinary.

“Secondly, Andrés Manuel emphasizes that under the circumstance, confirmation of the electorial frauds could lead to of generalized violence and the possibilities of virulent confrontations. The movement would have been at risk if we had succumbed to the temptation, and had to be channeled into other activities.

“Thirdly, as we all know, the way we chose to channel the people’s dissatisfaction was to create a permanent people’s front. The Broad Progressive Front has been consolidated in the legislature, and a growing coalition of unions, farmers and social organizations are contributing to the agenda for legal change. What we have to accept, though, is that we haven’t organized everywhere. It’s very difficult to establish an electorial coalition, as several of the Parties in the Front have found. But, for the most part, there is a common agenda within the Congress. The FAP will be making announcements in August regarding State organizations. That will be extremely important. W

“In fourth place , we have begun to construct a wide base for a Democratic National Convention. Starting September 16, when the civil resistence began, it provides a permanent structure for those who do not recognize Felipe Calderón as President, instead seeing Andrés Manuel as the legitimate president.. We have surveys from the capital and several important cities where 70 percent of people describe Calderón as “illegitimate.”

“Out of the CND, we have been making progress in forming operating committees in all 32 States, and in 800 munipalities.

“Fifth, the legitimate cabinet continues to fulfill it’s minimum expectations: generating public policy and alternative proposals; working with the FAP to coordinate legal strategies. There have been real gains from the close collaboration between the CND, the FAP and the legitimate government. To convert the movement into a national shift to the left, we will continue to function as a shadow government, systematically questioning the legimacy and governability of the de facto regime, and bringing up the proposals such as those Andres Manuel proposed for assisting senior citizens… fighting the sales tax on food and medicine for example. “

Asked how much weight we should still give to AMLO as the leader of the “movement”, and whether the movement won’t shrink to just the die-hards as people accept the electorial results, Hernández responds to the first, “quite a bit. Much,”

The press has been suggesting that AMLO is imposing decisions on the left. I’d argue that his persistence and vision has been the essential factor in what the movement has accomplished so far. He is the leader. All we know it. And if he were as negative as many write, many already would have gone away. There have been no desertions by those who began this struggle, nor of any of the parties or organizations. We’ll see if it’s just the die-hards after we desseminate the data and testimony about the frauds, and when the people come to the Zocalo on the 31st.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. 26 June 2007 1:13 pm

    Personally, I think AMLO made a big mistake when he allowed his clownish alter-ego (a buck-toothed cartoon figure – see here to become a representational figure.

    I mean, just how seriously does he think he’ll be taken when he provides such grist for the satirical cartoon mill???

  2. 26 June 2007 1:27 pm

    It makes him look like a younger, dorkier Jimmy Carter… was he going after the Dr. Simi vote?

  3. 'Stone bear permalink
    27 June 2007 9:13 am

    “Cardenas made a tactical mistake by allying with the Zapatistas, who were anti-PRI, but — as traditionalists, have more in common with PAN, and generally work against democratic leftists like PRD. By avoiding the anti-democratic groups, and by focusing on party-building and realistic political change, the out-of-the-spotlight AMLO may surprise us yet again.”

    I don’t agree with this representation of the Zapatistas at all. Can you justify this? The EZLN being allied with the PAN just doesn’t make sense to me since the PAN is so explicitly neo-liberal in focus and the Zapatistas so clearly anti-neo-liberal. Furthermore, characterizing the Zapatistas as “anti-democratic” hardly seems accurate when you look at all the work they’re doing.

    I agree that the Zapatistas work against the PRD as they definitely did not support AMLO or the system/electoral politics in general. One piece of graffiti that summarized this pretty well depicted the three circular symbols for the PRI, PAN, and PRD with the letters switched amongst the three so that the blue PAN had the letters of the PRD, etc. Beneath it read: La misma gata solo revolcada.

    Also, I’m not familiar enough with the history of Cardenas, but how salient would an alliance with the Zapatistas have been in 1988 – six years before they went public?

  4. 27 June 2007 10:53 am

    I should have been clear that the PRD-Zapatista alliance (or, rather PRD backing of the Zapatistas) was during Cardenas’ third run, in 2000.

    Fox, and the Z’s, pushed the San Andreas Accords, which carve out an exception for traditional communities within the constitution, which has the ironic effect of denying individuals within those communities liberty of conscience or the right to a secret ballot (as well as gender equality before the law).

    While PAN is “neo-liberal”, like the Zapatistas, they both have close affinities with Synarchism. Both look to “custom and tradition” rather than individual rights to govern society, and both are willing to use the power of the group to enforce conformity.

    Finally, I don’t see that the Stalinists like Marcos have given up the “dictatorship of the proletariat” as an eventual goal.

    All Zapatista acts since 2000 have benefited PAN nationally, and I have yet to see the Zapatistas cooperate, or even seek cooperation with any other political party.

  5. 'Stone bear permalink
    27 June 2007 2:40 pm

    That makes a lot of sense, thanks. I’m sorry to keep pushing this, but this is a criticism of the EZLN which I’ve never encountered before, and I’m interested in exploring it more (I’m fairly new to your blog, so I just went back and read every entry tagged with “Zapatistas”).

    How has the “uses and customs” clause of the San Andreas Accord actually been used to suppress opposing opinions or simply to further oppression within indigenous communites? I guess I’m not so clear on how that clause translates into enforcing conformtiy. Why can’t uses and customs be reconciled with individual rights? How does it necessarily lead to “chasing born-agains out of your village, and voting for the PRI and… beating the crap out of coppers with video cameras outside your local school”?

  6. 27 June 2007 11:25 pm

    A very simple example was the woman who owned property in an indigenous village, but the “use and custom” of her community kept her from owning property in her own name. When she obtained a divorce, she was stripped of it by the courts under “use and customs”.

    Voting rights (“tu voto es libre y secreto” doesn’t exist in Oaxacan communities when non-conforming votes are simply ignored), gender equality (ironically, the Zapotecs discriminate against men holding leadership positions, or even opening businesses), liberty of conscience (religious freedom), etc. cannot be reconciled with “communal rights”.

    It is romantic (and racist) to claim that an individual born in a traditional community should be denied equality before the law based on “usos y costumbres” — a very different idea that the cooperative ownership of the land and local political control that was envisioned by Emiliano Zapata. This is a return to the old “Ley de los indies” of the Colonial era.

Leave a reply, but please stick to the topic

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: