An estimated 1.2 million people attended a rally on 24 April 2005 in support of former Mexico City Mayor
López Obrador (Photo: Antonio Olvera}

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Mexico’s presidential election
develops into two-horse race

By Adriana Maciel, Mexico Editor

28 June 2006: “The horse that catches up wins.” Those were the vociferous words of Roberto Madrazo Pintado, candidate of the PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party) in a recent campaign speech.  The truth is, he is still far behind Felipe Calderón, candidate of the PAN (National Action Party), and former Mexico City mayor Andrés Manuel López Obrador, (AMLO) candidate of the PRD (Democratic Revolution Party), the latter with a small lead over the former.

 The other two candidates are just struggling to maintain their Party’s Registration. The diverse surveys still show a very small difference between Felipe Calderón and AMLO, caused by the dirty war in which they have engaged.  And now they are coming up the finishing straight, and it remains to be seen who will be first past the post 

In recent days the five candidates have appeared on television in what they have called a “debate” - which was no debate at all, but simply an exposition of what they would do once in office.  There was no proper discussion. They did not question one another, and the public did not participate.  Nonetheless, Felipe Calderón, candidate of the PAN (National Action Party) and AMLO candidate of the PRD (Democratic Revolution Party) accused each other of having relatives and close collaborators with high incomes. 

Calderón demanded of López Obrador to explain his chauffeur’s earnings, and assured him he would not win the election due to his misgovernment in the Federal District.  At the end of the “debate” came the counter attack by López Obrador, who said he was presenting a dossier that showed that Calderón’s brother-in-law, Diego Hildebrando Zavala, had a massive income and avoided tax returns, and accused Calderón, when he was the Minister of Energy, of granting contracts to his brother-in-law’s company.  

But that is not all. During the past months, Mexicans have been caught in the crossfire having to bear the almost continuous war on television and radio among the three main parties and their candidates, firing broadside after broadside at one another. This dirty war is unfair on the people, causing confusion among them and increasing their lack of confidence and belief and thus creating a sense of uncertainty – to the extent that many have stated that they will not bother to vote on July 2. One protested: “We feel betrayed.  We do not trust any of them.” 

If Mexicans decide to boycott the polls on July 2, the mathematics of the voting situation will mean that Roberto Madrazo of the PRI Party will almost certainly win, since his hard line vote is composed of the unionism that holds 11 million of the 17 million required for a victory.

As Comandante Marcos (ZLN leader) said in a TV news programme, there are three candidates for three different markets.  The PRI Party has the unionism sector - those who prefer the devil you know, rather than the devil you don’t.

 The PAN Party has the support of the right wing middle and upper classes, who are quite content with how things are. The PRD Party stands for the poor. But the fear campaign promoted by the PAN Party (including President Fox and Calderón) is so strong that most people, who at first indicated they would be voting for AMLO, are starting to believe that he is in fact a danger to Mexico. Although such fears are not based upon facts, nevertheless, “a lie told 70 times, becomes true”.

Once in office, two of the most important objectives for AMLO are first, to increase incomes so that consumption rises, followed by increased production. Consequently there would be more investment and increased tax revenues, which would be used for the benefit of the people. This, it says, is in opposition to the current government, which is saving money as a reserve, and not using it to stimulate the economy.

 The second objective is to fight waste by gaining a better control of the administration of energy, agriculture, tourism and the various infrastructure sectors and to reduce the salaries of bureaucrats, then to reinvest all of those savings in those sectors. 

Power and politics are a great responsibility and should be all about the opportunity to serve. The next president must have a clear vision of his or her goals and challenges.  That President must not only be honest but also a competent and tough administrator.

 He or she must improve the education system in order to tackle the corruption and the ‘culture of impunity’ that is rife, and which has reigned for decades and become the scandal that it is. If Mexicans want a real change and a real democracy, then they must make their collective voice known – and vote on July 2.  

However, it is my considered opinion that none of the three candidates is fully capable of ruling this extraordinary and complicated country.

Former Mexico City Mayor Andrés Manuel López Obrador at the rally in his support on 24 April 2005 (Photo: Gustavo Graf)

Introducing former Mexico City Mayor López Obrador
Like the sauce by the name of which most North Americans, at least, will know the part of Mexico that is his home (Tabasco), there is one thing no one could ever say about Andres Manual Lopez Obrador, former Mayor of Mexico City: and that, of course, is that he is insipid.

Mayor Obrador was runner up in the 2004 World Mayor contest

University educated in political science, Mr. Obrador – or AMLO, as he is sometimes called – supported native Tabascans through the work of an institute he oversaw, and ?The good of all, but most of all, of the poor?, has been his credo ever since. It was he who, even before becoming the third elected Mayor of Mexico, transformed the lot of the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), which was created in 1989 after the expulsion from the ranks of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which had held power for seven decades and under which the office of mayor of the capital had always been an appointment, of Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas. (Cárdenas had attempted to further democratic trends, and the presidential election he lost in 1988 was rigged. He became the first elected Mayor of Mexico in 1997.) During the presidency of Carlos Salinas de Gortari, Mr. Obrador exercised what has been widely acknowledged as his stellar organizing abilities, and nurtured and consolidated strong support for the PRD in Tabasco, and garnered 40 per cent of the votes in the 1994 race for governor, even when (it has since been revealed) his opponent spent some 60 times the total allowed by law on his campaign. More