[News] Calderon Installed by Media and Military

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Mon Dec 4 16:02:46 EST 2006


http://www.counterpunch.org/ross12042006.html

December 4, 2006


Calderon Installed by Media and Military


Repression on the Menu in Mexico

By JOHN ROSS

Mexico City.

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 
nearby roofs.

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 
<http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1560255781/counterpunchmaga>
[]
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.

John Ross's 
<http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1560258748/counterpunchmaga>ZAPATISTAS! 
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


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