By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
“We are aware that we are up against a group of economic and political powers that is accustomed to win at all costs, without moral scruples of any nature,” López Obrador bellowed on Saturday before a sea of people dressed in corn-shaded yellow, the color of the PRD. “They don’t really care about the country, and much less about the suffering of the majority of the pueblo of Mexico. Their only intent is to maintain and increase their privileges.”
The crowd went wild. Although rain sprinkled slightly and the weather was cool that day, the air was hot inside the Zocalo. Graffiti on a wall in front of the sinking Metropolitan Cathedral read: “If there is no solution, there will be revolution.” Some signs called for an invocation of Article 39 of the Mexican Constitution, which states “the people” have the right to “alter or modify their form of government.”
THE PEOPLE WERE PISSED ON SATURDAY. You could feel it. And López Obrador was channeling their anger.
Reputable news outlets have indeed detailed instances of bizarre irregularities in the vote tallies, most of which favored the PAN or the old-guard PRI ticket. But López Obrador’s rhetoric has sought to cast his struggle as one that rises above scattered cases of potential fraud. His language that day, as throughout his campaign, came from the vantage point of a true believer in the evils of class strata.
And Mexico has endured century upon century of that. While the capital and the industrialized northern cities of Mexico are modern, bustling centers of activity, nearly half of the population lives on less than $4 a day. In what Mexico City natives refer to quaintly as “the provinces,” the rural areas, poor mestizos and Indians live in a space of suspended time, often without the most basic amenities of industrialized society. In some areas, NAFTA has ravaged the lives of small farmers, and is set to do more harm in 2008 when the few remaining tariffs against U.S. products will be lifted.
These are the Mexicans López Obrador claims to speak for. And these are the Mexicans the PAN and its supporters — those who inhabit Mexico’s middle and upper classes — are usually the least worried about. This is the division that the bruising 2006 presidential election and its aftermath, just short of a worst-case scenario, have laid painfully bare.
When PRD leaders Manuel Camacho Solis and Gerardo Fernández Noroña arrived on Sunday to personally deliver a claim against an electoral-district site in a PAN stronghold in Mexico City, the quiet and leafy Colonia la del Valle neighborhood, a stout woman wearing a PAN blue button-up shirt approached the commotion curiously and with a disgusted look on her face.
“You should interview one of us. We want peace,” she said to no one in particular. “Que viva el PAN!” she hollered in a huff as she walked away.
Inside the gauntlet of press photographers, PRD supporters chanted in response: “Voto por voto! Casilla por casilla!” (“Vote by vote! Poll by poll!”)