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Could Mexico be the next Latin American country to go leftist on BushCo? [View All]

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marmar Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-27-06 02:42 PM
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Could Mexico be the next Latin American country to go leftist on BushCo?
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Mexico's Presidential Front-Runner May Roil U.S. Conservatives
by Tom Hayden

Though the progressive media and bloggers are paying scant attention, a progressive populist is the front-runner in Mexicos July 2 election, a man who would demand a revision of NAFTA, add a powerful workers voice to the roiling U.S. debate on immigration, and foster the new nationalism spreading in Latin America.

The candidate, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, currently leads by 3 to 4% in official polling, while his internal surveys indicate a margin as high as 10%. Obrador represents the historical party of the left, the PRD. His closest rival is Felipe Calderon of the neo-liberal PAN. The traditional governing party, the PRI, continues to trail badly while retaining significant power at state and local levels.

The United States is not happy over the latest challenge to its faded hegemony over Latin America but is keeping a discreet profile. The only well-known American consultant involved with the candidates is ex-Clinton advisor Dick Morris, who assists the conservative Calderon.

Lopez Obrador benefits immensely from popular approval of his tenure as mayor of Mexico City, where he fought successfully for the elderly and ran a more efficient administration than most of his predecessors. As a candidate he promises to stop privatization of oil and gas industries and to offer free medical care and food subsidies for citizens over 65. He has tapped a passionate popular solidarity with his modest lifestyle and outspoken preference for Mexicos poor, who are more than half the countrys population. Speaking under the blazing sun rather than the shaded canopies usually reserved for the powerful, he is often paralyzed by the frenzied joy of the crowds he draws.

Mexicans close to the campaign said in interviews that Lopez Obrador would insist on basic revisions to NAFTA, the trade pact that has only widened inequality in Mexico since 1994. As the Los Angeles Times noted in 2002, few would argue that NAFTA has been anything but devastating for Mexican farm families. In 2003, farmers stormed the doors of the Mexican legislature on horseback and threatened to seize customs checkpoints at the U.S.-Mexico border (L.A. Times, Jan. 1, 2003). With the situation worsening, Lopez Obrador would preserve subsidies for Mexican farmers that were set to expire under the NAFTA agreement.

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