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thoughts (and some pics) about Mexico's election, after my visit there

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fishwax Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-03-06 05:20 PM
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thoughts (and some pics) about Mexico's election, after my visit there
Edited on Thu Aug-03-06 05:21 PM by fishwax
Last week I traveled to Mexico for a wedding. I was, naturally, eager to hear the thoughts of people there about the election and the current movement for a full recount of the votes.

The place where I visited--the state of Michoacan--went heavily for Obrador. I don't know the actual breakdown of the votes in that state, but my informal and unscientific study of painted buildings, graffiti, and homemade signs favored Obrador by at least 10-1. Driving from the airport to downtown Morelia, I saw tons of buildings with the sides painted for Obrador. Various posters, graffiti, and signs also popped up alleging election fraud.

Not wanting to cause tension or seem rude to our hosts, I generally refrained from talking politics with our hosts or with guests at the reception, but I tried to get a sense from other people--taxi drivers, shopkeepers, etc.--when I had the chance. Most people I talked to (or heard discussing it) seemed to strongly believe the election was stolen. For some it was cause for anger, others seemed to approach it as a foregone conclusion. The only exception was a taxi driver in Uruapan that I talked to, who thought they ought to have some way to recount the votes but told me it would be impossible for the election to be stolen. He had actually grown up mostly in the United States, but had recently moved back to Uruapan.

In Morelia, the capitol of Michoacan, we stumbled upon a rally outside a church downtown. When we were there, I saw maybe 100 people there, but it was fairly early in the morning. Later in the day when we drove by again there was a much larger crowd. They had booths with all kinds of information and a bulletin board with dozens of editorial cartoons about Calderon, Vincente Fox, and gwbush. They also had info and pictures from the growing tent city protest in Mexico City.

One of the jarring things about that little rally was the freedom that those present felt to really let it rip when it came to their current and their likely future president. If the rally took place in the United States and images of bush were put in place of fox or calderon, they would likely result in arrest. Ditto the editorial cartoons about calderon and fox. We've all heard stories of college students being visited by the secret service after posting some cartoon or making some comment about bush and the rapture, or of local peace organizations being considered a potential terrorist organization. In Morelia, they were showing more extreme images and making even bolder proclamations openly in a town square. It was a very vibrant scene.

Here are a couple pictures of the protest, as well as a picture of the anti-voter fraud poster that I picked up as a souvenir. (I saw those posters hanging all over Morelia.)

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Oceansaway Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-03-06 05:24 PM
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1. TOUCHE !!..n/t
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AnnInLa Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-03-06 06:00 PM
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2. Interesting!......thanks for the post and pics
I travel back and forth to Isla Mujeres, MX all year long, and find their local elections fascinating. When the previous mayor emptied the treasury and made off for parts unknown, my local friends there just shrugged. They have come to accept graft and corruption as SOP....kinda like we do lately. Interesting is that the new mayor is a woman. On that very macho island, very unusual, and it is rumored that (gasp) she is a lesbian! Times are a changin' in MX. Most of my local friends there supported the conservative presidential candidate, but they are very entrepreneurial. It has just been this year that I have seen on the island signs adverstising the services of a professional coyote. Friends say he doesn't get much business from that part of MX, as there is not nearly as much poverty as in other parts. with the tourist trade, they are doing quite well, comparatively.

Anyway, thanks for the pics, I found them interesting.
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fishwax Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-04-06 10:54 AM
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4. you bet, and thanks for your insight as well
Isla Mujeres sounds very interesting, both as a destination and for the politics. I suppose It's fitting that Isla Mujeres should have a female mayor :)
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UTUSN Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-03-06 06:12 PM
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3. Speaking with my usual broadbrush, somewhat ignorant generalizations
Edited on Thu Aug-03-06 06:16 PM by UTUSN

(Michoacan is South/central, just to the southeast of Guadalajara.) In GENERAL, the more industrialized and relatively more prosperous North went for PAN/Calderon vs the more economically deprived South. I realize that there is a strong contingent for AMLO here, and I admire their idealism. THEY would be shocked that in my personal contacts (as opposed to discussions here) I have been flamed for speaking up FOR Obrador. But the middle-to-lower middle class people (from the North) I have argued with are VOCIFEROUSLY more anti-OBRADOR than they are pro-PAN. One yesterday went apoplectic on my ass, started reciting what I would call talking-points---saying that AMLO is NOT sincere in his help-to-the-underclass, that he is part of the "Old PRI", that he is a "ratero" (burglar), that he LOST and should CONCEDE.

I attempted to keep it calm, said that AMLO had lived with an indigenous tribe for 5 1/2 years. The dude went ballistic and said, "I DON'T GIVE A DAMN if he did!" When I said that the country would be left in doubt about the outcome, that a simple solution would be to have a run-off with just the two of them, no PRI or anybody else. He was FURIOUS, saying, "Do you KNOW HOW MUCH THAT WOULD COST???"

And he stormed off. (We two made quite the spectacle.)
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fishwax Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-04-06 11:07 AM
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5. thanks for the insight ... it's curious about the anti-AMLO vs. pro-pan
sentiment. I remember reading that some leftists in mexico considered AMLO a centrist candidate who would succumb to the world bank, etc.--analagous, I suppose to the attitudes expressed about dems by greens in our national elections? But in what way would someone consider Calderon preferable? It just doesn't make sense to me. A cool exchange, though, spectacle that it must have been :) Thanks for sharing.
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UTUSN Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-04-06 11:19 AM
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6. No, thank YOU!!!1 Refreshing politeness
I'm no expert (and am sure to be corrected by THOSE), but speaking GENERALLY, and from CONTACTS:

I'm most surprised by the strength of the pro-PAN sentiment in the NORTH among WORKING people, who are NOT the super-rich, who have their heads JUST above the water line and ranging to upwards from there. They are VOCIFEROUSLY anti-AMLO. They definitely see a threat from below.

The super-rich will always be able to take care of themselves, even if they have to LEAVE to do it. It is the small slice of ("middle"?) class that are wary about protecting what they struggle to gain.

I really feel for all of them below the super-rich. Even though our political fighters HERE wish GORE and KERRY would have called out a streetfight the way AMLO is apparently doing, I fear that the Mexican underclass is definitely at risk for violence (not from the PAN people, but from the government). Today I heard a Mexican commentator on the radio say that violence is NOT potential, that the system IS working, but that when the electoral commision renders its verdict everybody needs to swallow it, and implying that it ain't going to go AMLO's way. If only somebody had foreseen incorporating a run-off into the Constitution.
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