MEXICO CITY -- Hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the streets here Thursday as Mexico's congress voted to begin a process that could disqualify Mexico City's mayor, the leading presidential candidate, from the 2006 presidential race.
Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, standard-bearer of the left-leaning Democratic Revolutionary Party, is accused of violating a judge's order to stop construction of a road on contested private land. Congress voted by a wide margin to strip him of immunity in the case. If indicted, Lopez Obrador would be barred from seeking the presidency.
The vote came despite fears that disqualifying the popular mayor would lead to months of social and economic unrest. Opinion polls show most Mexicans oppose the effort against Lopez Obrador.
The mayor, elected in 2000, is beloved by many working-class Mexicans for his social programs, which include a monthly grant of about $60 dollars for all residents of Mexico City over age 70.
At a morning rally for the mayor, an estimated 340,000 supporters crammed Mexico City's main square waving flags and chanting in support.
The mayor's opponents have insisted they are merely applying the letter of the law and say Lopez Obrador flouted a judge's order to stop construction for nearly a year.
Did you see all those pictures of Mexicans demanding fair and free elections? The demonstrations calling on Fox to stop this obvious witch hunt against the opponent most likely to win the election? Did you see the zillions of pictures of the Mayor of Mexico City?
CNN is running hour after hour of the demonstration with excited chit chat? The NYT has one headline after another, speculating when will Fox resign and hand over power in a special election?
Welcome to the New World Order Democracy Now Project. This is where elections are overturned in California or Ukraine while the right wing and the media shouts about the wonders of People Power. But when the People take Power in Venezuela, turning back, overwhelmingly, the right wing/media boss attempt at unseating a fairly elected President, the media in America refuses to show this on TV. The vast crowds cheering real democracy is muted here. The NYT notes, sourly, that the foxy sly President of Venezuela slipped the noose. They hope he is taken down. Well, with the NWODNP hard at work, he will be, if by gross assassination or miltiary coup or whatever tool they find.
Mexico (pronounced "Mehiko") is dear to my own heart. I grew up mostly on the border of Mexico. My great grandparents followed the Cavalry to the Gadsten Purchase so we had long and deep roots that barely penetrated the desert compared to the Spanish and of course, the hardy natives who lived there since the Ice Ages. One thing about going deep into Mexico frequently, especially since my dad often had "business" there, meant I got to see a lot of political activity down there. This is where I first heard the words, "Viva la Revolutione!" before Castro made it ring loud. I also heard, "Yanqui go home". Often, the students would even assure my dad, they didn't want HIM to go home. Just the others. It was all rather amusing to a child. My dad has this knack for going into universities overseas and talking with students during times of riots and dissentions. He had a great deal of practice at home, trying to talk to us kids (ahem! ). He was going to China on June 4th to address the students in Tiananmin Square in 1989 when even I, alarmed, begged him to not go.
In Mexico, America looms large. When you crossed the border, the status of the Mexican people was obvious: for years, mired in terrible poverty, instantly obvious. I remember the children begging in the streets. As a child, this really upset me. I used to save my pennies to spend in Mexico, buying gum from these children. I hate gum and don't chew it. I would bring it home and give it away.
The Mexican government's indifference to the gross human suffering that shocked my childish eyes never ceased to amaze me. Why? How could they?
Then I became a teenager and began to hang out with the students in the sixties. Revolution was in the air and it was all the talk. In 1968, the government brutally suppressed the students in Mexico City. The deaths of the students barely made the news in el Norte. Indeed, whatever happens there seems to strike this invisible barrier that prevents much of Mexican news coming north! The suffering people of Mexico have figured out how to pass through this seemingly impervious barrier, but news is stopped, dead in its tracks.
The Mexican people can see the news from the world, the mysterious barrier doesn't work the other way. They can see for themselves, if you go into the plazas, wave flags and demand elections and the removal of despots, the USA will join in and cheer this on and strong arm those impeding popular will....not.
They know, el Norte fears them and wants them to be kept at arm's length and is very troubled about the magical ability of the Mexican people, being able to penetrate the borders we set after so many wars, stealing Mexican lands. How dare they come here! How dare they speak their own peculiar form of Spanish! Treason!
The power of the GOP in California and Arizona and New Mexico and Texas depends on fear of Mexicans even as Bush and his buddies all try to pretend they want to court Hispanics, the only ones who really respond are the Cubans.
Why Americans think we don't need to know or understand or sympathize with the good people of Mexico, I cannot fathom, at least rationally. I can figure out, there is a strong racist component to all of this.
Viva Zapata! Viva la Revolutione! Viva, Mexico!