NEWS & LETTERS, July-August 2005

Our Life and Times by Kevin A. Barry

Mexico City march

Andrés Manuel López Obrador (often referred to as AMLO) seems to be in the best position to contest the 2006 presidential elections following the April "silent march" of some 1.2 million in Mexico City, organized to fight Vicente Fox’s efforts to disqualify AMLO from the 2006 race. In the weeks after the march, Fox was forced to drop his campaign against López Obrador, who will be leaving his post as Mexico City mayor at the end of July to start his bid for the presidency.

The march was ten times as large as a "typical" protest in the city’s Zocalo, and is being referred to as the largest single protest in Mexico’s history. Many marchers who were interviewed there insisted they came out not so much because they are uncritical supporters of AMLO, but to oppose Fox’s underhanded efforts to rid his party (PAN) and the PRI of the AMLO threat. They came out to support Mexico’s fledgling democracy, which Fox has spent the last five years making a farce of.

AMLO himself does not make any pretense of being someone who can respond to demands for profound social change. Though he once lived among the indigenous people of the state of Tabasco and fought for improvements in their living conditions, he now insists those days are long gone, and defines himself as a "centrist." He also rejects any comparisons between himself and other leftist-leaning reformers in Latin America who have come to power in recent years.

--Mitch Weerth

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