Revolution #72, December 10, 2006
Mexico: Secret Presidential Inauguration, Political Crisis, and Brutal Repression
At one minute past midnight on November 30, Felipe Calderon was inaugurated as the new president of Mexico. According to the Mexican Constitution, the inauguration should have taken place in front of the legislature, the Chamber of Deputies. But because of the possibility that opposition legislators might prevent the inauguration from taking place, the transfer of power from outgoing president Vicente Fox to Calderon was carried out in a secret, night-time ceremony held in Los Pinos, the presidential residence, before cabinet members and members of the military. The ceremony was filmed and broadcast nationally. The Mexican daily newspaper La Jornada called it “a terrifying demonstration of weakness, but constituting an unmistakable threat of force.”
The Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) and Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO), who millions consider to be the real winner of the presidential election in July, had vowed to prevent Calderon from being sworn in as president. After the secret ceremony at Los Pinos, Fox and Calderon, together with 200 presidential guards, burst through the back door of the Chamber of Deputies building and carried out a 4-minute swearing-in ceremony.
The Chamber of Deputies had been occupied by both the PRD and Calderon’s party, the National Action Party (PAN) since Tuesday, November 28 — when senators from both parties rushed the podium, afraid that the other would get control of the chamber. They punched it out, threw chairs and bottles at each other, and remained in the chamber for three days, fighting over who would be in charge at the podium during the time of the inauguration. On the day of the inauguration, the balcony of the chamber was filled with foreign dignitaries, including George Bush senior, California Governor Arnold Schwartzenegger, the U.S. Torturer General Antonio Gonzales, and the Prince of Asturias of Spain. Many Latin American countries did not send representatives. At the end of the ritual, Bush the Elder stated: “I’m not at all worried. Everything will be alright.”
Later in the day AMLO led thousands of people in a march through Mexico City and vowed to continue mobilizing people against the Calderon government.
In the southern state of Oaxaca, the authorities have been unleashing a reign of terror against the people in preparation for Calderon’s inauguration. On Saturday, Nov. 25, the Federal Preventive Police (PFP), which has been occupying the central city square of Oaxaca since the end of October, opened fire on thousands of protesters demanding the ouster of the Oaxaca’s governor, Ulises Ruiz Ortiz (URO). Five people were killed and dozens were wounded.
Several government buildings, including the Superior Court, were set on fire, and hooded, heavily armed men attacked businesses. The Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO) has denounced these actions as police moves to the justify the repression that has followed. URO’s men have also directly attacked APPO offices.
Convoys of federal police and paramilitaries with high-powered rifles travel the streets of occupied Oaxaca. Since July more than 300 people have been arrested. At least 200 people have been indiscriminately snatched off the streets and held incommunicado in prisons. Many of the arrested are being hustled onto helicopters guarded by the army and shipped to maximum security federal prisons in northern states. Police with lists of names of activists are carrying out house-to-house searches and storming into elementary schools all over the state and arresting the teachers in front of terrified children. Parents have formed human shields around the schools. The pro-government radio has called for mobs to attack and burn down houses of protest leaders. Police have attacked and “disappeared” students, and shot into the university grounds. Several human rights observers were “disappeared” by hooded, heavily armed men a few hours after arriving in Oaxaca to document abuses. The government officials who were caught on camera fatally shooting Indymedia journalist Brad Will on Oct. 27 have been released from police custody. And URO has returned to Oaxaca declaring that “normality has been restored.”
Despite the clampdown in Oacaca, thousands marched in protest against Calderon on December 1. The march was led by relatives of the prisoners and disappeared. At the rally plans were announced for another march on December 10.
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- Special 4-page supplement: “Mexico: The Political Volcano Rumbles” and “Who Is AMLO, What Is His Program, and Where Will It Lead” (9/17/06)
- “Oaxaca, Mexico: Federal Police Attack Rebellion” (11/5/06)
- “Sharp Contention at the Top, and Deep Discontent from Below; Mexico: Massive Protests Against Presidential Inauguration” (12/3/06)
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