It was the first time in history a president was unable to deliver a state of the nation address.
The speech was to have been Presidente Vicente Fox’s goodbye to Mexico.
Legislative members of Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador’s Revolutionary Democratic Party (PRD) would have none of it.
That’s them in the picture, standing where Fox is supposed to be standing.
Beaten up last week by police at the ruling National Action Party’s (PAN) orders, still looking for answers in the death and torture at San Salvador de Atenco, they rushed the stage and put an end to the ceremony before it ever began.
Fox, dressed up in the tricolor sash of the Mexican republic, his wife in an evening gown, arrived in helicopter, hung around a few minutes, threw the towel in, and left by helicopter.
It was supposed to have been different. The street supporters of Lopez Obrador were supposed to assault the Congress or seal off the building and in preparation the government established something akin to virtual “Green Zone” around the Congress.
The piece by Hector Tobar and Sam Enriquez provides nice blow-by blow, on the ground coverage of a day which saw the forces of public order group en masse ready to beat up some leftists and poor people but ended up eating popsicles, according to the “Washington Post’s," Manuel Roig-Franzia.
He wrote that, “Lopez Obrador’s crowds had slackened in recent weeks, but on Friday there was renewed sense of energy as thousands of college students, recently returned from summer break poured into the square.”
Hey, even young revolutionaries deserve a vacation.
Lopez Obrador told everybody to stay with him and avoid falling for the government’s provocation.
He proved something his critics didn’t want to grant: that he has not only street support, but institutional support as well. Those inside the camera continue to support him, and so AMLO was able to affect an utter scandal on the political class, while flexing his might in El Zocalo.
Missing from the whole drama, Roig-Franzia keenly observed was the guy who supposedly won the election.
It seems, from here, to have been a terrible miscalculation by the government, arming itself to the teeth and essentially threatening the political opposition with mayhem. Lopez Obrador preserved both his troops and established himself as the level head.
The international press, has gone out of its way to suggest otherwise. Here’s an editorial from the “San Diego Union-Tribune”( if you can call that international), calling Lopez Obrador all manner of unkind things, invoking the “grown up” in those around him to take away his toys and allow Mexico to get back to the business of selling its people and wealth off to world corporatia.
As for Lopez Obrador, AMLO, we turn to “La Jornada’s account of what he said, which included, and the scribe translates,
“Should we fall into the trap?” he asked thousands of supporters, “Noooooo” the group responded.
“It doesn’t make any sense. Let them keep there little tanks and soldiers.”
He put the matter to a vote by show of hands and folks decided to avoid getting their heads cracked in with billyclubs and their lungs and eyes seared by teargas.
That was close.
AMLO expressed his respect for the armed forces because, “they protect the nation’s sovereignty” and then slyly invoked a stained history by requesting that the forces or order respect the rights of thousands and, “not fall into the temptation of repression,” by acting as it did in 1968 when students were killed to shut down their dissent, “and other unfortunate circumstances.”
He called for support of an upcoming convention at which a kind of shadow government will be formed and said the planned forum was the real reason the ruling National Action Party (PAN) had placed the Congress “under siege.”
These people are clearly done with the order of things in Mexico. They are not going away, are fairly convinced the election was robbed, and have decided that 1988 was the last time it would happen.
Lopez Obrador has tapped into it. He has used it to fill the streets and a politician who can do this repeatedly, is a politician to be reckoned with.
The drama plays on, Lopez Obrador effectively posing a feint, opting for a kind of parallel civic society, which will sink or swim on his ability to continue the galvanizing effect he’s had on Mexico’s leftish half.
Roig-Franzia keenly noted that the only man missing from this high drama was the guy who won the election, Felipe Calderon.