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Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Down Mexico Way 

Alert Zemblans are already aware of the "soft coup" against the overwhelmingly popular mayor of Mexico City, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who faces criminal charges for building an access road to a hospital on a disputed chunk of land; a successful prosecution would prevent him from running next year for the presidency of Mexico, an office he would almost certainly win with Clintonian ease. According to a recent poll, 72% of Mexicans believe the case against López Obrador is politically motivated, and on Sunday over a million of them took to the streets to express their outrage at his railroading by the Fox government. Oddly, this impressive manifestation of grassroots democracy drew scarcely a word of praise from the dedicated democracy-peddlers in our nation's capital -- but then Washington is not much interested in spreading the sort of democracy that might elect a Hugo Chavez or a López Obrador, as our learned colleague Roger Gathman of Limited, Inc. reports:
The tears that were shed over the elections in the Ukraine, do you remember? The NPR tears, PBS tears, NYT tears. Nothing, nothing was more important than the striving of the Ukranian people to put one of two corrupt dinosaurs in office. It emerged on the front pages and we were all, here in America, holding our breath for the good, pro-American, democratic side to assume its rightful place. It was just like when Tinkerbell died in the fifties and all the kids in America wished her back into life . . . .

But somehow, we haven’t yet had to bring out the mops to wipe up the NPR, PBS, NYT, and Bush administration tears about Mexico. In fact, probably few American readers of this post will even know that perhaps the largest demonstration in Mexican history took place Sunday. Our man in Mexico, Fox, hid in his little presidential Fox house. Whereas the man that Fox has conspired to kick out of the upcoming presidential race for the very good and democratic reason that he has a fair chance of winning it, Lopez Obrador, made a thunderous speech which, if translated into Ukranian and given in Kiev by a man backed by dirty capitalist money, might actually have garnered some press attention.

. . . What am I saying? It wouldn’t, even then, since the speech dared to mention protecting the welfare of the poor. If you aren’t willing, as a democrat, to shit on the poor, America is not going to cry for you. As we all know, the poor need shock therapy and more shock therapy. They need ever freer markets in which their ever falling wages can buy ever less in order to be really, really free. Because, as Rice said, immortally, in Moscow, people just want to be free to choose things for their kids – for instance, what infested mudhole to wash their kids clothes in, or what absolutely unsafe American owned factory to send their kids to to make a whole dollar a day.
Late-breaking developments from Knight-Ridder:
Mexican President Vicente Fox and his nemesis, Mexico City Mayor Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, agreed Wednesday to meet to discuss criminal charges pending against the mayor.

But it wasn't immediately clear whether a meeting would defuse the political crisis that has enveloped this country since Congress lifted the mayor's immunity from prosecution three weeks ago.

Fox scheduled a nationwide television address for Wednesday night, and staff members said he would offer some kind of concession in hope of ending the political impasse.

Analysts said Fox's decision to meet with Lopez Obrador is a recognition that Lopez Obrador is holding the political high ground in the struggle prompted by the determination that Fox's attorney general has shown to charge Lopez Obrador with criminal contempt of court in a minor land dispute . . . .

The judge, in an unusual middle-of-the-night ruling, noted that two members of the president's political party had posted bail for Lopez Obrador before the case was actually presented, raising the question of whether politics, and not the law, was the real issue. The judge also noted the attorney general didn't ask for Lopez Obrador to be jailed.

The rejection was a major embarrassment for the government, which has been studying the case against the mayor for months . . . .

On Tuesday, Fox told an audience in southern Oaxaca state that the country had to "remove foolish populists" who generate more poverty by opposing free-market policies - a reference to Lopez Obrador, whose left-leaning Democratic Revolutionary Party, or PRD, is anathema to Fox's conservative National Action Party, or PAN.

"They really stepped on it bad. This is not a legal case. It's 99.9 percent a political issue because of the mayor's strength," said George W. Grayson, a political scientist at the College of William & Mary who's writing a book on the mayor. "They have to find a way find a way to make certain he's on the ballot. Otherwise, they risk a year of turbulence, instability, lack of investment and economic growth."

"There's too much heat to continue with this soap opera," said Grayson. "Nothing like this has happened in recent Mexican history."
TANGENTIALLY-RELATED SIDEBAR: We did mention the Ukraine, didn't we . . . ?
Ukrainian authorities have determined that President Viktor Yushchenko was intentionally poisoned during last year's presidential election campaign in Ukraine, with Yuri Lutsenko, newly appointed Ukrainian interior minister, announcing that he knew precisely "who brought the poison across the Ukrainian border, which official took it to the scene of the crime, and who personally put it into Yushchenko's food."

Officials suspect Yushchenko ingested the poison during a Sept. 5 dinner with the chairman of Ukraine's security services, Igor Smeshko, and his deputy, Vladimir Satsyuk. U.S. and Austrian doctors determined the poison was a highly toxic dioxin of the type 2,3,7,8-TCDD (Tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin) that a Russian laboratory had experimented with a few years earlier. Ukrainian authorities suspect the Russian FSB's "Kamera," or "Laboratory No. 12," produced the toxin.
UPDATE: From BBC News:
Mexican President Vicente Fox has dismissed the country's attorney general in an apparent effort to end a legal row over the capital's mayor . . . .

President Fox said he had acted "to promote national unity" and called for "a calm exchange of ideas".

"The new attorney general will exhaustively review the case against the mayor, while seeking to preserve the greatest political harmony in the country," said President Fox.

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