[News] Calderon Installed by Media and Military
news at freedomarchives.org
Mon Dec 4 16:02:46 EST 2006
December 4, 2006
Calderon Installed by Media and Military
Repression on the Menu in Mexico
By JOHN ROSS
The official swearing-in of Felipe Calderon as president of Mexico
presented formidable logistical difficulties to the high echelon
military officers designated to protect chiefs of state here. For
three days prior to the constitutionally-mandated ceremony in the
congress of the country, the presidium had been turned into a war
zone when deputies and senators of the three parties that back left
candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador's claim that he is the
legitimate president of Mexico stormed the tribune and fought members
of Calderon's rightist National Action Party or PAN in a series of
battle royals that featured punches, pepper gas, hair-pulling,
hammerlocks, tossed soft drinks, torn suits and bloody noses - the
final fracas occurred just minutes before the scheduled swearing in.
For two nights, both parties camped out on the platform, huddled in
sleeping bags, glaring at each other and howling popular songs to
keep the other side awake, the PRD ironically at stage right, the
rightists at stage left. Getting Calderon onto the stage would be a nightmare.
Meanwhile, outside the congress which angry throngs of Lopez
Obrador's people threatened to overrun to prevent Calderon's
investiture, thousands of federal preventative police and military
troops crouched behind two meter tall metal barricades, backed up by
tanks, water cannons, tear gas launchers, long guns, and snipers on
To whisk the President-elect through this labyrinth without incident,
the Estado Mayor or elite presidential command, first sent out a
dummy caravan whose route was tracked by the two national television
networks in a successful ploy to thwart the protestors. Calderon was
then smuggled into congress in an unmarked vehicle through the
underground parking lot while hundreds of ceremonially garbed cadets
awaited the fake motorcade on the steps of the legislative palace.
The president-elect then emerged from backstage as a phalanx of
burley bodyguards opened an aisle on the PAN side of the tribune for
the blunt 44 year-old rightist to deliver the briefest acceptance
speech in the annals of such ceremonies - the short, balding Calderon
had to pin the presidential
sash on his own chest while his predecessor Vicente Fox smiled wanly
at his side - Fox is reported to have suffered a mild heart attack
several days before the change of power and the relationship between
the two men has always been frosty.
But the official swearing-in had been preempted by the unprecedented
transfer of powers from Fox to Calderon at Los Pinos, the Mexican
White House, in the early morning hours with the military brass
bearing witness. Never before in Mexico had power changed hands in
such circumstances. Swearing the oath read to him by an unidentified
voice off camera, Felipe Calderon became the first Mexican president
ever to privately assume power - the constitutionally mandated
congressional swearing-in was designed to bolster the PANista's
dubious claim to the office awarded to him by a razor-thin margin in
the fraud-marred July 2nd election.
The militarized spectacle of this post-midnight swearing-in broadcast
nationally by the nation's two-headed television monopoly sends a
clear signal of just how Felipe Calderon intends to govern this
sharply polarized land - with the military and the media.
Indeed, repression is right at the top of Calderon's menu as
evidenced by his cabinet appointees, many of them like him chosen
from the right wing of the rightist party. The new interior secretary
who oversees national security and internal political relations and
whose powers are second only to the president, Jose Ramirez Acuna,
had perhaps the blackest human rights record of any state governor
outside of Oaxaca tyrant Ulisis Ruiz when he ruled Jalisco, never
once accepting recommendations from the National Human Rights
Commission (CNDH) to curtail flagrant abuses by his security forces.
Ramirez Acuna was notorious for ordering the brutal repression of an
anti-globalization demonstration during a Latin American-European
Union summit in Guadalajara in May 2004 in which a hundred protestors
were jailed and beaten, tortured for days by state police and thrown
into Jalisco's maximum lock-ups for months despite an outcry from
national and international human rights organizations. Ramirez
Acuna's appointment as Interior secretary during a particularly
turbulent moment of social upheaval her is a sign of the "Hard Hand"
("Mano Dura") to come.
Even more ominous is the naming of Eduardo Medina Mora as the
nation's attorney general. Medina Mora, former director of the CISEN,
Mexico's top intelligence agency, served as public security secretary
under Fox and organized the bloodthirsty police attack on the
rebellious farmers of San Salvador Atenco last May in which hundreds
were brutalized, two young men killed, and 23 women raped or
otherwise sexually abused by the security forces.
The expected wave of repression has already descended over Oaxaca
where the Oaxaca Peoples Popular Assembly or APPO and dissident
education workers have occupied the center of the state capital for
six months. On October 27th, following the murder of independent U.S.
journalist Brad Will on the barricades by a death squad in the employ
of Governor Ruiz, a leading member of the PRI party which ruled
Mexico for seven decades and whose removal is the key demand of
protestors, Fox moved in thousands of Federal Preventative Police, a
corps culled from the military, who retook the central plaza. Since
then, the dissidents have waged a fierce resistance from behind
barricades thrown up throughout the state. Ruiz's gunsills have now
killed 18 demonstrators beside Will - whose killers, police officers
themselves, were released from custody last week by the governor's police.
A peaceful march by the APPO and its supporters November 25th was
cruelly suppressed by the federal troops, unleashing elements of
Ruiz's ministerial police who burnt down the Assembly's encampments,
raided APPO leader Flavio Sosa's offices, and broke into hospitals
and private homes hunting protestors. More than 160 militants
detained by state and federal cops have been shipped out of state to
prisons as far north as Matamoros on the U.S. border in a concerted
PRI-PAN plan to crush the self-designated "Commune of Oaxaca."
As might be expected in the throes of the government-ordered
crackdown which accompanies Calderon's ascendancy to high office, and
the sealing of the stealing of the July election that has soured many
Mexicans on the effectiveness of the ballot to bring social change,
the armed option has emerged as an enticing alternative. The first
bombings here in six years were staged in mid-November by a coalition
of tiny guerrilla cells that split from the all-but-dormant Popular
Revolutionary Army (EPR) in the late '90s, and caused moderate
property damage to the bunker that houses the maximum electoral
tribunal - the TRIFE - which confirmed Calderon's victory, the
heavily-fortified national headquarters of Ruiz's PRI, and a
transnational bank - bombings at transnational banks occurred in 2000.
Also on the move and a target of opportunity for Calderon's security
apparatus are the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) and
its quixotic spokesperson Subcomandante Marcos who was relatively
untouched during the Fox years. This December 1st, the
Marcos-directed Other Campaign completed its itinerary of moving from
conflict point to conflict point across the Mexican geography
listening to "those at the bottom", the first stage of weaving a
national tapestry of resistance of "los de abajo" in every region of
the land. The Other Campaign now returns to Chiapas where the EZLN
will evaluate the dangers that a Calderon presidency presents - a
second group of Zapatista comandantes is projected to resume the
Other Campaign's route in and around January 1st. The plan and pace
of "La Otra" seems aimed at the calling of a constitutional
convention in 2010, the bi-centennial of Mexico as a nation.
In his first address as president of Mexico, Calderon repeatedly
called for "unity" and "dialogue" even as his big business backers
were embarking on a TV hit piece campaign accusing Lopez Obrador and
his supporters of undermining the nation. Given the seismic divide
between rich and poor, brown and white, that has been so evident in
past months, and the hard hand still to come, reconciliation seems
improbable. Felipe Calderon will be encased in a security bubble for
as long as he is president; unable to travel the country he claims to
have won in the stolen July 2nd election without inciting riot and resistance.
Mexico has been verging on ingovernability for many months and
Calderon's heavy-handed feint to slam the lid on the upsurge from
down below will only crank up class and race discontent.
"Coyuntura", the gathering of objective and subjective forces, is a
favorite tool of political analysts for measuring the possibilities
of social change here. Revolutionary "coyunturas" come together when
these two forces are in alignment - when the popular movements, the
subjective force, has grown sufficiently strong to overcome the
increasingly onerous objective forces - in this case, the growing
impoverishment of three quarters of the population now living in and
around the poverty line thanks to the machinations of neo-liberalism,
a personal philosophy of which Calderon is fatally enamored.
In this respect, the new Mexican president ends up on the losing side
in Latin America - the election of Raul Correa in Ecuador is just the
latest milestone in the pendulum swing to the left on the southern
continent. Indeed, Calderon represents a last losing gasp for
Washington's hegemony in the hemisphere. It is not just of passing
significance that virtually all of Latin America's heads of state
with the notable exception of Alvaro Uribe, Washington's puppet in
Colombia, chose to absent themselves from the inauguration.
Felipe Calderon has been programmed by his transnational handlers to
facilitate their business arrangements south of the border from 2006
through 2012 but history, which in Mexico is as present as the
present, may derail this carefully laid plan. In Mexico, revolutions
explode in hundred year cycles.
In 1810, the black and brown underclass rose up to overthrow the
Spanish and win the nation's independence. In 1910, Mexico erupted in
the first great social revolution of largely indigenous farmers in
the Americas, a revolution that was sparked by a stolen election. For
Felipe Calderon, 2010 looms on the horizon.
Making Another World Possible--Chronicles of Resistance 2000-2006 is
just out from Nation Books. Ross will travel the left coast this fall
with the new volume and a hot-off-the-press chapbook of poetry
Bomba!--all suggestions of venues will be cheerfully
entertained--write <mailto:johnross at igc.org>johnross at igc.org
The Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
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