Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Mexican State May Fuel Election Protests ; Recent Unrest in the Heartland of Southern Mexico Could Merge with Leftist Candidate's Call to Press for Vote-by-Vote Recount

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Mexican State May Fuel Election Protests ; Recent Unrest in the Heartland of Southern Mexico Could Merge with Leftist Candidate's Call to Press for Vote-by-Vote Recount

Article excerpt

When leftist candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador this week called for a wave of civil resistance to press for a vote-by-vote recount of the disputed July 2 presidential election, nowhere did his appeal resonate more than in the restive city of Oaxaca.

A variety of groups, mostly leftist, have recently launched a series of protests in Oaxaca - located in the heartland of Mexico's impoverished south, which voted overwhelmingly for Mr. Obrador - transforming an annual teacher strike into a massive people's movement aimed at ousting the state governor. The city's main plaza has been a sea of tents and tarps, manned day and night. The windows of the government palace are shattered.

Observers say demonstrations here have primed the area to be a hotbed of pro-Obrador protest if the people ultimately feel the election was stolen, and that what happens here in coming days and weeks will be a good indicator of whether Obrador's call for resistance will gain much traction beyond Mexico City.

"This is a region that is excited about the fact that maybe there will be a president who cares about the southern states, and [a region that] would be willing to be quite militant [to defend Obrador]," says Chuck Collins, an Oaxaca-based scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington. "If there was a call to shut down the state of Oaxaca, it would just be like rolling out of bed."

Obrador has refused to concede defeat to Felipe Calderon of the National Action Party (PAN), who won the election by a little more than half a percentage point, alleging ballot stuffing and illegal support for the PAN on the part of the government and businesses. The electoral court is currently reviewing those appeals, and has until Sept. 6 to certify a winner.

At a massive rally Sunday in Mexico City, which organizers say over a million supporters attended, Obrador told the crowd: "To defend democracy, we are going to begin peaceful civil resistance." He says he wants to double the crowd at another rally scheduled for July 30, and has said he will continue calling for protests until a vote-by-vote recount is undertaken.

Poised for protest

The goals of Oaxaca's multiparty movement are distinct from the national election. "We are not following the PRD," says Florentino Lopez Martinez, a member of the Popular Assembly of the People of Oaxaca (APPO), the name given to the 350-some organizations that he says have mobilized alongside the teacher strike in Oaxaca. "But we would see [fighting against fraud] as necessary to defend the people's will, and the people's vote. We have a necessity to participate, to take to the streets and say no to fraud."

For the protest-weary in Oaxaca, who fear the city could become an extended outpost of political resistance, such calls are unwelcome. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.