Well, that went well. NOT!
Several thousand demonstrators turned out at the Angel of Independence today… a relatively small protest by Mexico City standards… for the much bally-hoed, and endlessly promoted “Vibra Mexico” march for “national unity”. That meant, especially for the joint “México Unido” march, as much trying to prop up what little support remains for the Peña Nieto administration as it did repudiation of Donald Trump’s recent threats against Mexico, and Mexican emigres in the United States.
As it was, even though police managed to divert a counter-march (not pro-Trump, but anti-Peña Nieto) away from the official march, several thousand of the estimated 8 to 11,000 marchers were protesting as much against the Mexican administration as they were against the new guy in the White House.
The Guadalajra Informador (generally pro-government) said there were “hundreds” of marchers, though buried down a few paragraphs it claimed about 6000 people were at the march. And that included a couple of mariachi bands. For comparison, somewhere upwards of 10,000 turned out in July 2015 to protest against something that had very little effect on them… gay marriage. There too, anti-Peña Nieto protesters had swelled the ranks.
In Puebla, the “Vibra Mexico” marchers were confronted by citizens representing “Puebla en Lucha”… who protested not only against the federal administration, but are demanding their former governor be tried for various crimes, and are not happy with their local federal representatives.
The Mexican people are not stupid. While “Vibra Mexico” was announced (and publicized) as being backed by “70 civic organizations and intellectuals”, it was obvious — especially when the media provided helpful maps of where to assemble and even what clothing to wear — that this was hardly a populist protest. Looking over the list of “civic organizations” and the lead organizers, there was a plethora of well-known conservative establishment figures. Only two intellectuals of any note… conservative historian Enrique Krauze ,and UNAM rector Enrique Graue Wiechers… are among the organizers, and several of the “civic organization” leaders mentioned were those who for years have been apologists for the status quo, or have been working with PRI and PAN to push their own agenda… (Like Isabela Miranda de Wallace, demanding tougher anti-crime legislation, or Claudio X. Gonzales, who pushes teacher testing, and other failed US innovations for Mexican schools). One suspects many of the protesters were there under some duress.
I must say, given the media coverage, I expected a mega-march of some sort… like the ones Televisa pushed during the Fox administration to protest crime in Mexico City (and to claim AMLO was a “do nothing” executive… though AMLO managed to high-jack the 500,000 or so protesters and turn it into a demand for more federal assistance in crime prevention), or the nation-wide protests back during Calderón’s administration for “peace”. The latter supposedly had a few million people out in the streets. Who, after all, is opposed to peace? Shame the whole exercise was designed to show support not for giving peace a chance, but for giving the army a chance to kill a few thousand more people allegedly having ties to the “narco-trade”.
This isn’t to say that people are indifferent to Trump… they aren’t… but what people do north of the border isn’t much we can control, and in a weird way, Trump has opened up a real opportunity for Mexico to make the changes that will “vibra Mexico”… a serious discussion over the trade imbalance with the United States, the corruption in the political establishment, the deterioration of human rights, the need for higher wages, and a government that listens to its people.
Informador: “Comienza marcha ‘Vibra México’ en Guadalajara”
Mexico Daily News: “Anti-Trump marches to be held on Sunday”
Background: Excelsior, La Razón, Televisa, Noroeste. riding my bike down to the Angel this afternoon.