August 2, 2006 [LINK]

Turmoil worsens in Mexico

After several days of increasing protests, blockades, and turmoil, President Fox urged the Mexico City officials to order police to clear the streets. Thus far, Mayor Alejandro Encinas has declined to force the protesters to leave. He belongs to the Party of Democratic Revolution of which losing candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is the leader, and no doubt supports the protesters' cause. See A spokesman for winning candidate Felip Calderon accused the PRD of "kidnapping" Mexico City. "AMLO" has spent the last three nights "camping out" in the main plaza, El Zocalo, with thousands of supporters in his PRD. He tries to show a dignified public image, calling on city officials to act with "patriotism, sensitivity, and rectitude." (La Jornada) Meanwhile, he tacitly encourages confrontation with authorities, risking violence and anarchy. The heart of the capital city remains choked by the blockades, causing great annoyance and lost sales for many businesses. To emphasize their determination to reverse the results of the July 2 election, or at least force a complete recall, PRD members pitched tents on the main boulevard, el Paseo de la Reforma, and blockaded the offices of the Secretariat of Social Development. (El Diario de Mexico) This is obviously the most perilous moment in Mexican history since the 1968 protests. The country's political institutions and leaders face a severe test to see whether the protests can be endured, and any legitimate grievances addressed, without resorting to overt repression.

I am unaware of any reputable outside observers who have lent credence to the PRD's accusations of vote rigging. Unfortunately, the Carter Center seems not to have had any involvement in monitoring the Mexican elections, perhaps preoccupied with the recent election in Congo and the upcoming election in Nicaragua.

Meanwhile, the prolonged teachers' strike in the southern Mexican city of Oaxaca goes on, and may be spreading. Most tourists have fled the area, putting severe stress on the local economy. About 500 women surrounded a government television station, demanding the resignation of Gov. Ulises Ruiz (who belongs to the once-dominant Institutional Revolutionary Party), charging that his 2004 election victory was fraudulent. Two years later? See