Angrily Awaiting a Messiah | The Nation


Angrily Awaiting a Messiah

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John Ross
John Ross's Zapatistas! Making Another World Possible: Chronicles of Resistance 2000-2004 will be published by Nation...

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The confirmation of Felipe Calderón's electoral victory signals
the end of Andrés Manuel López Obrador's three-year
struggle for the presidency and the beginning of a new phase of
organized resistance.

As election officials in Mexico recount only a handful of contested
voting districts in the flawed presidential elections, Andrés Manuel
López Obrador walks a tightrope between defiance and keeping a lid on
his steamed-up constituents.

There is a reptilian feel to Mexico seven weeks after a discredited Federal Electoral Institute (IFE) cemented López Obrador into a second- place coffin by awarding the presidency to right-winger Felipe Calderón by a mere 243,000 votes out of a total 42 million cast. Both Calderón and IFE czar Luis Carlos Ugalde (Calderón was best man at Ugalde's wedding) make numerous appearances on national television.

Those screens have been the scenes of some of the slimiest and most sordid political intrigue of late. One of the lizard kings who is fleetingly featured on Televisa primetime is an imprisoned Argentine construction tycoon, Carlos Ahumada, who in 2004 conspired with Fox, Calderón 's PAN and Televisa to frame AMLO on corruption charges and take him out of the presidential election--"El Peje" (for a fish from the swamps of López Obrador's native Tabasco) was then leading the pack by sixteen points.

Charged by López Obrador, then the mayor of this megalopolis, with defrauding Mexico City out of millions, Ahumada had taken his revenge by filming PRD honchos when they came to his office to pick up boodles of political cash for his lover, Rosario Robles, who aspired to be queen of the PRD. Although the money was perfectly legal under Mexico's milquetoast campaign financing laws, the pick-ups looked awful on national television--AMLO's former personal secretary was caught stuffing wads of low denomination bills into his suit coat pockets as if he were on Saturday Night Live.

Some here believe Ahumada turned the tapes over to the cigar-chomping leader of Fox's PAN party in the Senate, Diego Fernandez de Cevallos ("El Jefe Diego"), who in turn had them delivered to a green- haired clown named Brozo, who was then reading the morning news on Televisa. Then the Argentine blackmailer fled to Cuba in a private plane. Televisa aired the incriminating videos day and night for months.

The construction tycoon has been imprisoned in Mexico City ever since he was booted out of Cuba and was last heard from when was last heard from when [his family's SUV was shot up, an apparently staged attack that both Fox and Televisa tried to pin on AMLO. Ahumada had suggested he was about to release two more incriminating videos. These dubious events took place on June 6, the day of a crucial presidential debate between AMLO and Felipe Calderón.

Then last week, Ahumada abruptly resurfaced--or at least his videotaped confession to Cuban authorities did. Filmed through prison bars, he lays out the plot step by step. Yes, he affirms, the deal was fixed up to cut AMLO's legs out from under him and advance the fortunes of the right-wing candidate who turned out to be Felipe Calderón and not the bumbling Creel. The conspiracy backfired badly as his supporters rallied around him and López Obrador's ratings soared.

The origin of the confession tape, leaked to top-rung reporter Carmen Aristegui, was obscure. Had Fidel dispatched it from his sick bed to bolster López Obrador's claims of victory as the PAN and the snake-eyed Televisa evening anchor Joaquín López-Dóriga hissed? The air grew thick with serpentine theories. There was even one school that speculated Calderón himself had been the source in a scheme to distance himself from Fox (there had always been mala leche between them) and Creel, now the leader of the PAN faction in Congress.

AMLO advanced a variant of this explanation--the specter of Ahumada had been resuscitated to divert attention from the evidence of generalized fraud the Coalition had submitted to the TRIFE and the panel's impending verdict that Calderón had won the election.

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