Ariel Gutiérrez Vivanco foto
A friend, a teacher in Mexico City writes about yesterday's huge march in support of Andres Manuel López Obrador, the mayor of the city and a likely candidate for President of the country in 2006. The government of present President Vicente Fox is trying to pin a criminal charge of abuse of power on López, an offense that would remove him from office and prevent him running in the election next year.
We walked 9 kilometers in three and a half hours surrounded by hundreds of people. (This was the biggest march in recent Mexican history.) The federal government says 120,000 but we were more than one million people! Fox was very naive and tried to get López out of the race by accusing him of violating the law because he did not stop constructing a road on expropriated land when a judge ordered him to do so. He stopped the work eleven months later. On April 7, the legislative body removed his "immunity from prosecution" and now a judge has been asked to judge and sentence him. Depending on how all that works out he will or will not be able to participate in the 2006 election.
The march was the most popular march I have been in my whole life. There were political parties and political organizations of course, but at least 50 percent of the march was very poor people who have benefited from Obrador's social programs. They were not organized or brought there by anybody -- they just came because of their belief that this man represents them. The march era en silencio [was silent] so people wrote their consignas [slogans] on pieces of paper and cardboard. The people's passion is the real reason the government, the rich people and many middle class "educated" people are very scared of López Obrador. They think he is the Mexican version of Hugo Chavez [President of Venezuela.] Some of us think he is closer to Lula [President of Brazil].
His politics around gender and gay issues are not good enough for me. He is better than the revolucionarios centroamericanos [Central American revolutionaries of the 1980s] but very similar. A gay political analyst says it's a class issue.
I marched along with Arce and Lolys, who are moms of Paula, a 3 year old awesome girl who sat on our shoulders the whole march waving her flag and saying she had come to see "el posimo pesidente" ["the next president" in baby talk] There was a contingent of "feministas agraviadas" [angry feminists] whose message was "por la libertad de decir sobre nuestros cuerpos y nuestros gobiernos". ["Freedom to choose for own bodies and to elect our government."] I thought that was very advanced. Unfortunately that group wasn't very large.
There were lots of kids and teenagers walking along their parents. Babies had signs that said "cuando sea grande quiero ser un Sr. López". ["When I grow up, I want to be like Senor López ."] Hundreds of old people came, insisting, "no one brought us by force." López Obrador has a special program for people over 70 who receive a pension or bonus for 700 pesos each month and for many people it is the only money they have.
How can this worker from a poor state with leftist ideas become president of this country? It's very exciting. I don't think he can win the presidency but he has certainly created a mass movement that nobody else had done in this country since [President] Cardenas nationalized the oil industry [in 1938.]
To undermine him the government refers to him as Senor López instead of el jefe de gobierno [mayor of Mexico's Federal District.] Yesterday one of the few chants we did shout was "todos somos López". [We are all López!]
This is very empowering but also very scary for most Mexicans who are not used to this kind of power.
For a relatively balanced North American article on López, see "Poverty has fueled presidential hopeful" by S. Lynne Walker.