A July 2 victory by Vicente Fox could trigger an equally dangerous scenario. The rule of thumb for presidential-military relations is that the loyalty of the president to the generals is as important as the generals‘ loyalty to the president, and because Fox has no ties within the military hierarchy, the army will quickly define its influence in the new regime by flexing its muscle. In Mexico 2000, that muscle is flexed in Chiapas. According to Subcomandante Marcos, the timetable for attack is already fixed -- if the PRI senses that it will lose July 2, an offensive could begin before Election Day.
There is another option. Long-shot candidate Cuauhtemoc Cardenas, founder of the PRD, has long supported the San Andres accords and the concept of indigenous autonomy. Cuauhtemoc, the bearer of the name of the last Aztec emperor, is the only candidate in the race with an indigenous heritage. (Purepecha Indian blood courses in his veins.)
Cardenas made a recent campaign stop at Acteal, in the highlands of Chiapas, where 46 Tzotzil Mayan supporters of the EZLN were massacred by PRI-affiliated paramilitaries in December 1997. At that notorious spot, Cardenas called for a military and federal police pull-back from the conflict zone -- a long-standing EZLN demand. Cardenas is the only one of the three leading candidates to have met with the EZLN.
Writes Mixe lawyer Adelfo Regino of the National Indigenous Congress, a bulwark in the battle to make the Indian Rights accords the law of the land: “Labastida and Fox are integrationists, but Cardenas endorses an autonomy that allows us to become truly a part of Mexico on our own terms.”