Mexico : AMLO Watch part II

What is going on in Mexico is the trial rhetoric of a new vision, a "socialist" perspective to govern from the point of view of the people. It's anti-neoliberal, so watch out. Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador was challenged and so far, has survived - both literally and politically.

This account is from Oaxaca. Sunday the 24th was a big day in Oaxaca for marches, although the marches were not big. But adequate for the occasion, Lopez Obrador’s populist day in Mexico DF..

The noontime  occasion in Oaxaca  along the fenced borders of the excavated zocalo consisted of about a hundred petition gatherers, children painting pictures of trees weeping above the slogans (in Spanish) “Don’t cry tree, we love you,” and a multitude of Oaxacaqueños staring at the damaged bay tree, which has been mysteriously resurrected, hung with guy wires and trimmed of its vast canopy. We all half expect it to fall again, or maybe all the trees to fall, but I believe both Nature and Angels have intervened because the rainy season previewed and the wet earth must be doing some good. The zocalo itself is a ruin.

The ire and scandal surrounding the destruction (let’s see if it dies) of one venerable tree and a whole lot of antique paving was played to the hilt by the local paper Las Noticias, which wages an on-going war with the PRI, the past governor Murat, and the present governor Ruiz. The citizenry contributed with posters and invective. The UN Cultural Patrimony project has been invoked, with dire warnings about Oaxaca losing its status if the trees die.

Nobody so far has asked who’s getting the money.

Me, I’ve asked hardly anything else.

The same-day March of Silence in support of Lopez Oberador set out from Llano Park at 5:00 PM or maybe it was 5:30, and made its way up the main street toward the Alameda. I cut over the short way, and sat in the Alameda waiting for it to arrive. The Alameda stretches a block across from the useless devastation of the zocalo; it’s the area in front of the catedrál. I’ve been told the state controls the zocalo (site of the former Palacio Gobermental soon to be a museum) and the city controls the Alameda.

I tell you this so you can judge for yourself  the extent of my madness in surmising Ruiz tried to prevent rallies for Lopez O., clearly unsuccessful. So that leaves only the destination of the money, no?

Around 6:00 I found a place to perch on the rim of the stone fountain and sure enough, the March of Silence could be heard approaching for two blocks. It was accompanied by a Oaxaca band playing the notes of the waltz Dios Nunca Muere (God Never Dies), by Macedonio Alcalá, considered  the hymn of the Oaxaqueños. At Llano Park I had counted about 400 marchers, and I estimate about 700 people had joined by the time they rallied in the Alameda, shouting their solidarity with Andrés Manuel with “You are not alone! You are not alone!”

Indeed not – the national newspaper La Jornada says the police tallied the Mexico DF crowd at  1,200,000.

''…we are going to defend democracy; real suffrage, not disqualification. In these last days, since April 7, just a short while ago and up to today, I have received loud and clear many demonstrations of  your support, of your solidarity, from you, from the workers, the housewives, the campesinos, the indigenous, the merchants, the professionals, the intellectuals, the artists, the business people, from all the people; for that I repeat again: ‘From my whole heart: I love them without limit. Many thanks, friends.’''

The best part of  AMLO’s speech was not that particular phrase, but I love that he uses the rhetoric of, as we English majors call it, the device of  “catalogue”, a poesy made popular by Walt Whitman and brought to its pinnacle by none other than Subcomandante Marcos.

I have a reason for throwing that in.

The Oaxaca speeches in the Alameda lasted about an hour. A group of women, in support of one of the scheduled speakers, arrived holding a banner demanding women’s rights. One of the bearers was clearly an American woman, who was immediately advised (by whom I don’t know, probably another foreigner, of whom several lurked at the outskirts) that foreigners can not participate in Mexican politics, whereupon she pulled her hat over her face and dropped her end of the banner. I promptly retrieved it and held it aloft. Thus I was standing next to a sweet young thing of twenty-two, and we conversed while the speeches went on until our arms were tired and truth to tell I didn’t process much. It didn’t matter. We all knew, and know.

It’s hard to swallow AMLO’s affirmation that not even the dirtiest politicians can stain “the noble role of politics” whereby, as he says, it’s the privilege of a person to be permitted to place himself in the service of others, guided by values higher than his own personal aspirations, and to propose a pact with all sectors of society to build together what the country demands.

There it is again. This guy knows his Zapatistas.

The PRD avoids the hard-core of the Zapatista message regarding leaders’ responsibility  to the community, co-opting the Zapatista appeal by speaking of combating poverty and avoiding increasing disparities in wealth. As I recall, just about a month ago AMLO was saying he would go for the presidency with or without the PRD, so some negotiation has occurred. Maybe the PRD knows a winner when they see one.

In Oaxaca the speeches went on for more than an hour, until the rain threatened. In DF Lopez Obrador spoke for 33 minutes, five off the cuff. He asked for the promise by the people for three points: to continue defending the right of the people to freely choose their government; to avoid provocation and  conduct all actions of civil resistance by non-violent means; and to convince more people to achieve the transformation of politics, society, economy and culture ''that we have proposed'', to which the crowd responded with a prolonged ''Yeees!'' López Obrador sealed the pact with an amen, but the greatest ovation ratified his decision to go back to work as mayor on Monday morning, confronting the government which says he’s fired, instead  ''continuing to serve for the good and generous people of México, Distrito Federal''.

His name will appear on the ballot for 2006.

''The only logical explanation” AMLO said, “that I can find for the behavior of my adversaries is an irrational fear that we are proposing to put into practice an alternative project for the nation, ” which he described as  “carrying out a definitive renewal and applying a new legality, a new economy, a new politic and a new social contract with less inequality and more justice and dignity.”

And for the irrational fear that will send the CIA into action: “At the same time, the change we propose does not signify a return to Statism nor does it imply submissive  adoption of inefficient and dehumanizing neoliberal policies…

''The alternative is to take advantage of globalization and not just suffer it. To try to pay attention to the real basics of global economics, but exercising our freedom to apply the point of view and the policies that best serve the national interest.

 ''Nor do we propose authoritarianism, the hard hand, the rule of power over others; much less the  disappearance of Judicial Power or the jailing of  politicians and governors, as our adversaries claim in their propaganda. Nothing like that!

''We seek a change with the concurrence of all men and women, persuading and convincing that the best guarantee for security and peace lies in avoiding the growing social inequities in our country. For that reason we have said and I repeat: for the good of all: first the poor.”

Hey you ain’t gonna hear nobody in the USA speak like that. Or, “the anchor of political stability is the independence and rectitude of judges, magistrates and ministers in the application of the laws and the validity of social and democratic rights of the State.”

Or: 'The President of México should be a man of the State, a statesman, not act like the head of a party, or faction or group… The President can not use the institutions in a factional way to help his friends nor to destroy his adversaries.”

Lopez Obrador then spoke of  policies antithetical to neoliberalism, such as public works spending, modernizing without  privatizing the electric and oil industries, refining Mexico’s own crude oil to keep product and control of product in Mexican hands, and selling oil at competitive but reasonable prices on the world market..

''Power only acquires meaning and converts to virtue when it is exercised in benefit of others.

''When we refer to a new social contract with less inequity and more justice and dignity, we are imagining a State which fulfills its social responsibility...

''We firmly believe that it is possible to achieve a better society. The proposal we make is to establish in our country a State of welfare, a State egalitarian and fraternal in which the poor, the weak and the forgotten find protection against economic uncertainties, social inequality, disadvantages and other calamities, and where one can live without pain or fear...

''In México there are sufficient resources; in spite of having been exploited for more than five centuries there are still many resources which, well-administered, can give security to all Mexicans from the cradle to the grave, and that is our proposal.

''This egalitarian and fraternal State should make effective the Constitutional right to food, work at a reasonable salary, health, education, cultures which are the strength behind our identity, and the right to housing.

''This is what we refer to when we speak of a country for all, of a country for the poor, the dispossessed and the humiliated of our country. Everything we are proposing, friends, is realistic and, more than ever, necessary. It is not possible to have governability in our country, nor progress, nor tranquility, nor social peace, in a sea of inequality.”

He then went on to list several points where the government must be more attuned to the population, referring to the calls for privatization as bad structural reform. And, he said, there’s no reason for anybody to be alarmed! Gosh, does he mean George Bush? The rhetorical style of AMLO in my opinion owes a lot to Subcomandante Marcos, but the politics is Latin American style Socialism. And he believes it’s possible.

What we might keep in mind is that the welfare state as Lopez Obrador expounds it, is written into the Mexican constitution, which unlike many others, such as that of the USA, guarantees health, education, food and housing. “I repeat,” he says, “we are not the ones who are harming Mexico.”

''¡Todos somos AMLO!'' folks were shouting in Llano Park, while the band played funeral marches. The marchers wore white medical mouth masks to indicate silence, which was because the PRI and the PAN closed down freedom of expression by attempting to shove AMLO aside. The marchers carried signs with AMLO’s photo, and flags with the PRD symbol. Families with children and grandmothers strolled along. Notably absent were the state directors of the PRD and leaders or representatives of other political parties. There were no legislators. When the march arrived at the Alameda, the CIPO-RFM (Consejo Indigena Popular Oaxaqueño -Ricardo Flores Magón) was clearly evident, (as well as the women protesters) – the only group consistently working at rallies.

“Andrés Manuel is a giant for his work, and the powerful fear him”, said the first speaker. “In Oaxaca we are going to raise our voices, too.” For sure, Oaxaca has more than its share of government violence and fraud. “And now we suffer this latest aggression: they have taken our zocalo because authoritarianism is the arm of the governing party, to bend the people.”

It’s rumored that the cost of remodeling the zocalo will be around 700 million pesos, while at this time the city lacks water, and scant services are available in the outskirts.

At the end of the speeches, with the first drops of rain beginning to sprinkle the cardboard placards, people sang the national anthem, and as usual some people held up their left fists. Then the band played some tunes and the remaining folks took advantage of the music and began to dance.

It’s always like that in Oaxaca.

About Nancy Davies

I’m a little old lady in sandalias, Plebian Consort of George Salzman on whose web-site some of my essays are posted. I write in every genre, I teach English, I hang out in the Mexican sunshine. I am in love with Subcomandante Marcos although we’ve met only in the noösphere.

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About Nancy Davies

Biography
I’m a little old lady in sandalias, Plebian Consort of George Salzman on whose web-site some of my essays are posted. I write in every genre, I teach English, I hang out in the Mexican sunshine. I am in love with Subcomandante Marcos although we’ve met only in the noösphere.