Monday, March 27, 2006
Venezuela Charged with Backing Mexico’s Lopez Obrador
With but a
hundred days left before what could be modern Mexico’s most important election ever, people sense an anxiety in the
decades of paternalistic administrations that dwarfed and confused Mexican’s ability to understand democracy, citizens
were elevated during the 2000 elections to the position of deciding their own leadership.
Many saw Vicente
Fox’s presidential victory as the democratic milestone for Mexico’s advance into its third century. Now some consider
it another of many squandered opportunities.
After the 2000
elections, Mexico’s political establishment that included the administration, Congress and political parties, set about
to continue its “business as usual” style of government. Although Fox made inroads by advancing some democratic
principles, many bureaucrats, legislators and parties acted conventionally.
establishment’s main fault was refusing to identify changing demographic trends that started in the 1980s. Then, Mexico
became a nation of around 50 percent juvenile population. Along with their vibrant potential, they had no background in the
country’s discreditable political past and they were fertile for new ideas.
the political structure, acting inflexibly, was non-responsive to the young. Refusing to change it simply offered opportunities
to those who would accept the existing status quo, leaving many frustrated.
and employees too were caught unprepared for the skill changes most new North American Free Trade Agreement attracted companies
required. Unemployment and underemployment grew, as workers were unable to assimilate into the workplace, which led in part
to migration to the United States to find jobs.
privileged few face the consequences of their na´vetÚ. After nearly a century of negligent condescension, they fear that the
2006 elections will not only be the result of campaigning between political adversaries, but too decided by the disenfranchised.
This could prove to be a major turning point, representing a generational and cultural confrontation that would determine
not only the country’s presidency but also its future.
As July looms
closer, the eight to ten point lead in the polls of Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) candidate Andres Manuel Lopez
Obrador seems even bigger, as he goes about his populist campaign offering promises that most economists think will be impossible
to fulfill. This while many of the lesser-advantaged grasp for the hope offered for a better way of life.
Action Party (PAN) candidate Felipe Calderon, who is currently running second, and Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI)
candidate Roberto Madrazo are independently attacking the PRD candidate. They caution against his messianic posturing, predicting
a reversal of Mexico’s democratic progress and the possible return of past economic crises caused by populist policies
if Lopez Obrador wins.
But PRD followers
continue to support Lopez Obrador.
Lopez Obrador’s campaign strategy was straightforward, full of criticism while he avoided face-to-face confrontations.
In contrast to his opponent’s mass media campaigns, he preferred to hold rallies in impoverished districts and towns.
His approach was simple – make outlandish promises without explaining specifics; blame Fox and other parties for causing
Mexico’s problems; and claim that all critics are part of a conspiracy.
that his rival’s campaigns are making inroads, and that his resistance to confront his adversaries is perceived as a
weakness, Lopez Obrador reluctantly agreed to participate in a single debate on June 6.
A debate without the PRD candidate is currently scheduled for April 25.
however his timing was off, for Lopez Obrador didn’t count on being broadsided by friendly fire.
For some time
accusations and media reports have circulated alleging that President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela is secretly sustaining the
Lopez Obrador campaign. Rumors of Venezuelan financed “Bolivarian brigades” working with campaign organizations
and at events. As these were uncorroborated however, no charges were made either by opposition parties, electoral authorities
or foreign ministry officials.
But the gloves
came off following an appearance by Venezuela’s ambassador to Mexico at a PRD rally. This followed by Chavez himself
publicly expressing support for Lopez Obrador during a press conference.
All of which
led to calls for censure by opposition party members in Congress.
debate, and fruitless denials by PRD legislators, a recommendation was sent to the foreign office to issue a letter of protest
due to the intrusion by Chavez in Mexico’s internal affairs.
intervention has also revived allegations of illegal campaign contributions, both financial and from the presence of Bolivarian
brigades in Mexico. And this has partially at least exposed a flank in the Lopez Obrador campaign, one that opponents hope
to seize upon.
a MexiData.info columnist, is a Mexico-based businessman and consultant. He can
be reached via e-mail at email@example.com.