Mexico: The Spirit of 1910? Posted by: Dale Franks
on Wednesday, September 06, 2006
Many observers of Mexico's current election imbroglio are getting worried. Independent observers, as well as the Mexican elections tribunal, have rejected allegations of electoral fraud in the result that led to the election of Felipe Calderón as president of Mexico. Unfortunately, however, the leftist candidate, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, is rejecting the results of that election. His actions leave observers wondering is a repeat of the election of 1910, and the subsequent revolution, is in the offing, as Carlos Alberto Montaner writes.
But Andrés Manuel López Obrador, known as AMLO, the defeated contender, is behaving as if he were Francisco I. Madero, the politician who refused to accept Díaz's fraudulent triumph, declared himself president and unwittingly opened the door to a civil war that took his life and the lives of hundreds of thousands of Mexicans and a great many members of the ruling class.
While Mexico in the early 20th Century was substantially different from Mexico in the early 21st, one aspect has changed hardly at all: Then and now, there was and there is a notorious gap between society and state. Mexicans one century ago, like Mexicans today, did not believe in the honesty of their politicians, the efficacy of their representatives, the rectitude of their judges and the probity of their men in uniform.
For decades, especially during the 70 years of government by the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), relations between the rulers and the ruled were based on a system of patronage and subsidies designed to reward the courtier and punish the adversary or the indifferent. The system left very little space for meritocracy or the rule of fair play, thoroughly rotting the moral foundations of the republican system of government.
Evidently, AMLO is trying to provoke a confrontation with the forces of public order and he will most assuredly cause it. How? By ignoring the tribunals' rulings and rejecting the legitimacy of the institutions. He has summoned a convention for Sept. 16 for the purpose of launching a general insurrection.
At that ceremony, he says, he will form a parallel government, thus totally destabilizing the country. At some time, the police and the army will have to evict the mutineers, and it's not hard to foresee that their repressive action, despite every caution the officers may exercise, will leave quite a few wounded and dead people on the pavement. What will happen after that, no one can predict.
What has traditionally happened in Mexico, after such events, is a long, destructive period of armed revolution.
AMLO is rejecting the result of what was, by all accounts, a fair and free election. He seems to feel entitled to the presidency, and claims, in the face of all the evidence, that he was somehow cheated.
Hmmm. Sound familiar?
But I digress.
The proximate danger in Mexico is its lack of democratic experience. As Enrique Krauze writes in the Washington Post:
To get a sense of the danger hovering over Mexican democracy, consider these numbers: In the 681 years between the founding of the Aztec empire in 1325 and the present day, Mexico has lived for 196 years under an indigenous theocracy, 289 years under the absolute monarchy of Spain, 106 years under personal or party dictatorships, 68 years embroiled in civil wars or revolutions, and only 22 years in democracy.
This modest democratic 3 percent of Mexico's history is divided over three periods, far separated in time: 11 years in the second half of the 19th century, 11 months at the beginning of the 20th century, and the past 10 years. In the first two instances, the constitutional order was overturned by military coups.
To the extent that Mexico has been historically stable, it has been because it was ruled by a dictator, or a single party. And, generally ruled poorly.
And now, as a fledgling democracy, just a decade after President Ernesto Zedillo's sweeping political reforms, the Spirit of 1910 seems to be in the air.
López Obrador has complained about his opponents' fear-mongering, but he's the one stirring up real fear, by declaring that "Mexico needs a revolution" and comparing the situation to the circumstances that led to the Revolution of 1910. The historical comparison is completely wrong: López Obrador isn't the heir of liberal democrats Benito Juárez and Francisco I. Madero, but of Porfirio Díaz and Victoriano Huerta, the coup leaders who smothered Mexico's two initial attempts at democracy.
What comes next? If, as is likely, the final ruling of the Electoral Tribunal of the Federal Judiciary confirms Calderón's victory, López Obrador will do as he has warned: On Sept. 16, Mexico's Independence Day, he'll gather tens of thousands of people in the central square of Mexico's capital to declare him "president" by acclaim. He may even try to control "his territory" in the southern states of Oaxaca, Chiapas, Tabasco and Guerrero, and the capital itself. His aim for the near future will be to lay siege to the institutions he despises ("let them go to hell," he said recently) and force Calderón to resign.
It is crystal-clear that López Obrador is not a democrat. He's a revolutionary with a totalitarian mentality and messianic aspirations who is using the rhetoric of democracy to try to destroy this third historic attempt at democracy in Mexico.
No. Like many politicos of the far left, he feels he is entitled to rule. Convinced of the insuperable morality of his politics, he has declared that he wouldn't accept the results of a recount of 100% of the votes, if the result wasn't in his favor.
This is the kind of rhetoric that has led to unfortunate consequences in Mexico's past, and we should worry about whether something similar is in the offing for the near future.
I guess we need to hurry and get our guest worker program in order and legalize all our current illegals, as we may have a few more guests dropping in. Looks like our economy will be booming, according to some.
If he sets up an independent government, then the Mexican law is clear. He should be summarily executed. I am not making this up. Mexican law under the current constitution calls for speedy execution with or without trial(depending on the state of insurrection) of all of those caught in treason. Treason being easily defined in any country as setting up an illegal government.
"he has declared that he wouldn’t accept the results of a recount of 100% of the votes, if the result wasn’t in his favor."
do you have a source for this?
Just wondered. As a ’leftist’ I was concerned about the effects of another 6 years of ’pro-growth’ reforms in Mexico - I think they will continue to increase the gap between rich and poor, erode quality of life for the poorest, and thus continue to contribute to political instability.
However, of course, I now fear the actions of AMLO more - to say he is being irresponsible would be to dramatically understate the risks associated with his actions. There should have been a full recount, he probably would have ’lost,’ and he’d proibably still be saying the thigns he is currenlty saying. However, this young democracy has missed out on a chance to maximise the legitimacy of the result of this second democratic election, at a time when, in the eyes of a significant number of mexicans, the result is still illegitimate.
George, there could not have been a full recount without utterly delegitimizing Mexican election law. There are strict rules about when recounts can occur, what has to happen to discard ballots, and so on. These rules are in place to prevent vote tampering and they apparently work quite well. For the elections court (an independent body whose only purpose is to oversee elections) to have called a full recount would have required the court to show significant evidence of discrepancies with each and every individual ballot box.
The election wasn’t free and fair at all. He has as much right to a recount as the Ukraine electoral theft. Calderone should step down or at least agree to a recount. Oaxaca’s situation could very well become the dominant theme in Mexico
David Rudd, any links or analysis to back up the assertion that Mexico’s election was not free and fair? It has been so certified by international observers, and is apparently about to be (has already been?) so certified by Mexico’s elections court, which is the final authority on such matters. It seems that such a non-conforming assertion would require some evidence. Certainly, it is ridiculous to ask the declared winner to step aside and concede the election based on such an assertion, and even worse to take the extortionist position that the declared winner should step aside to prevent civil violence egged on by the declared loser.
The TRIFE annulled 237,000 votes after the recount of 10%. It also described violations by the Calderon camp that put the election "at risk". Legally, it should have annulled the election. As for "independent" observers, the EU observers were Fox partisans, the leader of the observers was a member of Aznar’s party in Spain and close ally of Fox.
There was fraud. The TRIFE admitted to it itself. It simply refused to do its duty and remedy the situation adequately.
The reforms in Mexico are not "pro-growth". Despite these high oil prices, growth is anemic. Fox admitted himself that the strategy is to send people to El Norte. Mexico has deteriorated since the Lopez Portillo era. In fact, their main argument was that the reforms would send cheap labour factories to Mexico. Now, they are being dismantled and sent to cheaper-labour China. They failed.
Remember Fernando Collor de Mello. He took power in Brazil on scare tactics, saying the Left would ruin things. The Left would bring hyperinflation. The Left would bring an economic meltdown. Collor then presided over the worst meltdown in Brazilian history, the worst hyperinflation. So, the Left would win for sure next time.
Again, the scare tactics were used. Collor was impeached and the successor, Cardoso, stabilised things just in time for the election. So he won. Later, he presided over his own meltdown! Then, people finally learned their lesson.
In Mexico, the post Lopez Portillo failed policies have been reinforced with electoral fraud twice; first Cardenas in 1988, and now AMLO is being robbed. When will Mexico get their Lula, when will they get their Kirchner, and when will the stupid dogmatic thinking that kept such people out of power be defeated?