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Angrily Awaiting a Messiah | The Nation

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Angrily Awaiting a Messiah

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AMLO is accused by right-wing "intellectuals" (Enrique Krauze and the gringo apologist George Grayson) of entertaining a messiah complex. Indeed, he is up there every day on the big screen, his craggy features, salt-and-pepper hair, raspy voice and defiantly jutted jaw bearing more of a passable resemblance to a younger George C. Scott rather than the Crucified One. AMLO's devotees come every evening at 7, shoehorned between the big tents that fill the Zocalo, rain or shine. Last Monday I stood with a few thousand diehards in a biblical downpour, thunder and lightning shattering the heavens above. "Llueve y llueve y el pueblo no se mueve," they chanted joyously (it rains and rains and the people do not move).

About the Author

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.

The evolution of these incantations is fascinating. At first, the standard slogan of "voto por voto, casilla por casilla!" was automatically invoked whenever López Obrador stepped to the microphone. "You are not alone!" and "Presidente!" had their moments. "Fraude!" is still popular, but in these last days, "¡No Pasarán!"--"they shall not pass," the cry of the defenders of Madrid as Franco's Fascist hordes banged on the doors of Madrid in 1936--has often been heard.

In this context, "¡No Pasarán!" means "we will not let Felipe Calderón pass to the presidency." AMLO, who holds out little hope that the TRIFE will decide in his favor, devotes more time now to organizing the resistance to the imposition of Calderón upon the Aztec nation. Article 39 of the Mexican Constitution, he reminds partisans, grants the people the right to change their government if that government does not represent them. To this end, he is summoning a million delegates up to the Zocalo for a National Democratic Convention on Mexican Independence Day--September 16, a date usually reserved for a majoral military parade.

Aside from the logistical impossibility of putting a million citizens in this Tiananmen-sized plaza, how this gargantuan political extravaganza is going to be financed is cloudy. Right now, it seems as if small children donating their piggy banks is the main mode of fund-raising. Because AMLO's people distrust the banks, all of which financed Calderón's vicious TV ad campaign, a giant piggy bank has been raised in the Zocalo to receive the contributions of the faithful.

Dreaming is also a fundraiser. Ten thousand people raised their voices in song this past Sunday as part of a huge chorus assembled under the dome of the Monument to the Revolution to perform a cantata based on the words of Martin Luther King Jr. and Mohandas Gandhi. This too is a form of civil resistance, López Obrador commended his followers.

The first National Democratic Convention took place behind rebel lines in the state of Aguascalientes in 1914 at the apogee of the Mexican Revolution, when the forces of Francisco Villa and his Army of the North first joined forces with Zapata's Liberating Army (EZLN) of the Southern Revolution. The second National Democratic Revolution took place eighty years later in 1994, in a clearing in the Lacandon Jungle of Chiapas, when the Zapatista Army of National Liberation wedded itself to the civil society in an uprising that rocked Mexico throughout the '90s. Eclipsed by events, the EZLN and its quixotic spokesperson, Subcomandante Marcos, have disappeared from the political map in the wake of the fraudulent election.

What this third National Democratic Convention is all about is now being debated in PRD ruling circles and down at the grassroots. Minimally, it will be a plan of organized resistance that will dog Felipe Calderón for the next six years, severely hampering his ability to rule. The declaration of a government in resistance headed by Andres Manuel López Obrador is one consideration. The National Democratic Convention could also result in the creation of a new party to replace a worn-out PRD, now thoroughly infiltrated by castoffs from the PRI.

The Party of the Democratic Revolution has always functioned best as an opposition party. With notable exceptions (AMLO was one), when the PRD becomes government, it collapses into corruption and internecine bickering, and behaves just as arrogantly as the PAN and the PRI.

Seven weeks after the July 2 electoral debacle, Mexico finds itself at a dangerously combustible conjunction in which the tiny white elite here is about to impose its will upon a largely brown and impoverished populace to whom the political parties and process grow more irrelevant each day. "¡No Pasarán!" the people cry out. But to whom and what they are alluding to remains to be defined.

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