<i>"The Name of Our Country is América" - Simon Bolivar</i> The Narco News Bulletin<br><small>Reporting on the War on Drugs and Democracy from Latin America
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And the Winner in Mexico Is… The Zapatista Other Campaign

There Are Four Possible Election Results In the Mexico of Above, but the Mexico from Below Has a Surprise Waiting for Each of Them


By Al Giordano
The Other Journalism with the Other Campaign in Mexico

June 30, 2006

“The elections will happen later, don Fermín, and we’re going to be here. Maybe the majority of the Mexican people will support López Obrador and the PRD (Democratic Revolution Party) with their votes. If they don’t recognize his victory, you and many like you will mobilize. Believe me that we will be at your side, shoulder to shoulder, fighting against that injustice and denouncing it, just as we did against the desafuero…”

– Zapatista Subcomandante Marcos
Open Letter to don Fermín Hernández
August 2005

Sunday, July 2 will be Election Day in Mexico. The current men in power – most visibly, President Vicente Fox and the country’s business elite – are in a panic.

Anything can happen on Sunday, including an attempted electoral fraud, as occurred here in 1988. But this time the Mexican people will not swallow it. If Mexico’s dubious Federal Electoral Institute (IFE, in its Spanish initials) tries to repeat that dark history, the revolution will begin on Monday. Those in power can’t be that stupid. Or can they?

All objective signs – if the vote is to be tabulated fairly and accurately – point to a punishing electoral victory by former Mexico City Governor Andrés Manuel López Obrador. The big boys – at least the domestic ones who seem to believe their own hype that López Obrador is a “leftist” (foreign capitalists are much more sanguine about the probability of victory by the candidate with the initials AMLO) – have tried everything to stop it. In 2005, they tried to remove López Obrador from the ballot with a legal maneuver called the desafuero. They only ended up making him stronger. Lately, they’ve attempted an Election of the State to impose a whiney little man named Felipe Calderón of the PAN (National Action) party as Fox’s successor, but this week they were caught red-handed trying to rig the voter lists, among other old-style maneuvers, on Calderón’s behalf. They were undone at each step through a medium known as the Internet, which did not exist in Mexico in 1988. They may still attempt to impose Calderón on Sunday but your correspondent doubts it because, if so, it bears repeating, a revolution will break out on Monday.

The Mexican business and political elites are left with two other possible scenarios to try and stop the unstoppable: The first would be a “surprise” victory by Roberto Madrazo, candidate of the PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party), a man who has trailed the two frontrunners all year long according to the polls. Obviously, that scenario would be suspected by many as a fabrication and would not stand for long.

The other possible scenario – now being spoken of openly in some corners of the Mexican press – would be to “annul” Sunday’s election results (there certainly have been enough documented irregularities to justify such a maneuver) and install an “interim president” named Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas. That last scenario would fascinate those above, since it was Cárdenas who acquiesced to the historic 1988 election fraud that robbed him of the presidency then, and who, of late, has shown an apparent bitterness that López Obrador, and not he, is his party’s candidate today. In that scenario, the system would try to sell a Cárdenas bait-and-switch as a kind of latent display of “justice,” the realization of a long-denied advance, eighteen years after the fact. But down below, few would be wowed or impressed by any play so cynical and mocking of an electorate’s dignity. And there is that pesky little force down below and to the left that, seen or unseen, would put a stop to it faster than one can say “national rebellion”: the Zapatista Other Campaign.

One of the grand ironies of the moment is that the people who have fretted most vociferously about the Other Campaign (while others have ignored it altogether) have been some who support López Obrador. Now it turns out that La Otra is the only “democracy insurance policy” that can keep those up above from standing in the way of AMLO’s electoral victory.

Each of these scenarios deserves a little fleshing out, explanation and documentation on this page, particularly the not widely spoken hypotheses of a possible return of the PRI or of Cárdenas. Below, we will address the palpable realities behind each of the four official possibilities on Sunday: a “Calderón Fraud,” a “Madrazo surprise,” a “Cuauhtémoc Bait-and-Switch,” and what those above will call a “triumph by the left” if the IFE admits a López Obrador victory.

But no matter who “wins” the contest up above, the fact remains that the Other Campaign is more ready for any one of these presidential wannabes than they are ready for the post-electoral surge of the Other Campaign.

Sunday’s vote will change certain realities of the road ahead in Mexico, but it will not decide the most important ones. The authentic competition over the future of a country, its people, its land and resources, doesn’t fit on an electoral ballot, at least not this year.

Because at six p.m. Sunday all the TV ads, billboards, posters, the billions of dollars spent on this electoral campaign will no longer have any impact whatsoever. But the national network of social fights and fighters constructed over the past year by the Zapatista Other Campaign will still be standing. In fact, it has planned all along for this moment, for the closing of the polls on Sunday.

What follows are four post-electoral contests, unmentioned in the Commercial Media, of which Narco News – utilizing our so very scientific polling process of “looking below instead of above” – is able, today, to project the winners…

Felipe Calderòn?
…or Dr. Rosalba Gómez Rivera?

Dr. Rosalba Gómez Rivera came to Mexico City on Tuesday, June 27, briefly interrupting her now-54 days of vigil outside the gates of the Mexico State Prison known as Santiaguito, where she awaits freedom for her husband, Guillermo (known as “Doc”), and her daughter, Mariana. Doc and Mariana were arrested on May 4 in San Salvador Atenco for the crime of obeying the Hippocratic Oath. Doc and Mariana were arrested because they tried to help human beings wounded by police in Atenco. Doc was specifically arrested – and remains in prison – for trying to save the life of the late Alexis Benhumea: If the Mexican State had not detained Doc that morning, Alexis might well be alive today.


The site of Dr. Rosalba Gómez Rivera’s vigil outside Santiaguito prison
Photo: Argenpress
One day before, as Dr. Rosalba waited another Monday at the prison entrance, the Mexican State of Vicente Fox seemed on the verge of getting away with a gigantic electoral fraud next Sunday to impose a victory by his candidate Felipe Calderón. The umpires at IFE had already denied accusations that software contracts the IFE has with companies related to Calderón’s brother-in-law, Diego Hildebrando Zavala Gómez del Campo, and his company Hildebrando, had corrupted either the vote-counting computers or the national list of voters.

But that Monday morning, Mexican journalist Carmen Aristegui, who hosts the nightly talk show Aristegui on CNN Español, dropped a political bombshell on her popular morning program on XEW radio in Mexico City. There, live on the air, she used the Internet to enter a restricted area on a Calderón campaign website, with the username of Hidebrando117 and a password she received from an unnamed source. There, Aristegui found proof of the electoral cyber-fraud of the century: the entire national IFE voter list cross-referenced with supposedly confidential government information about which voters receive government assistance or contracts from all the federal agencies. Live and on the air she found information about herself, her family members, about the IFE president, and about the PRI presidential candidate.


Felipe Calderón
Photo: El Universal
Moments later, the Calderón campaign shut down that section of its Internet site, but the cat was out of the bag. Much of the Mexican national media ignored the story. But Aristegui repeated it Monday night on the international TV news network CNN and La Jornada – a pro-PRD newspaper, the fourth largest in Mexico – led with the story on Tuesday (on Wednesday, a La Jornada editorial criticized the information blockade by other media, saying “in spite of its relevance, the corresponding information was minimized and even ignored by most electronic and commercial media”).

Nonetheless, the IFE electoral overseers – which had, a day prior to this stage of the scandal put the election to bed with a statement that it found no illegal involvement in its computers or election system by Calderón or his brother-in-law’s companies – had to rush into an emergency meeting on Tuesday, admit that the electoral system had been corrupted, and file a criminal complaint against the contamination.

Thus, it doesn’t really matter that other Commercial Media has ignored or minimized the scandal: the legal grounds now exist to annul an election result that would declare Calderón the winner on Sunday (this may, in fact, have been Fox’s “Plan B” all along; a scenario we will explore below). Now that the contamination of the voter list and “confidential” government data about voters has been documented and exposed, there is no possibility that the Mexican public will accept the sudden declaration on Sunday by IFE if it claims Calderón is the winner.

In this context, read last August’s open letter, quoted at the top of this page, by Zapatista Subcomandante Marcos to a PRD supporter. The fall of a Calderón presidency would be a matter of days, if not hours, after any scenario that at this point claims Calderón to be the winner.

And a great factor in that “reality from below” is that this country is filled with decent, and courageous people like Dr. Rosalba Gómez Rivera, whose persistence is embodied by mothers and wives throughout this land. Back to the story of Dr. Rosalba: This dignified woman spoke briefly on Tuesday at the presentation of the first comprehensive human rights report about the police invasion of San Salvador Atenco last May 4.

A resident of Nezahualcoyotl (an enormous, mostly working-class suburb of Mexico City proper, locals call it “Neza York”), in the state that holds Doctor Guillermo Selvas and Mariana Selvas Gómez hostage, Dr. Rosalba spoke of her sometimes lonely battle to free them.

“At times there are only fifteen of us camping overnight outside the prison gates,” Dr. Rosalba explained. “The authorities say that our compañeros are not really on a hunger strike, that we’ve been smuggling them food or that they were caught eating chicken. Those are lies. The police also harass us who keep vigil there. We still can’t get doctors in to treat them for infections in their wounds, including vaginal infections.”

The view of those who look above suggests that Dr. Rosalba has lost this year’s election campaign and that candidate Felipe Calderón could still win it. Her husband and daughter remain in prison, while he enjoys the unfair advantage bestowed upon him, through his brother-in-law and others, by the Federal Electoral Institute (IFE) and President Vicente Fox.

But the information available simply through “looking below and to the left” allows Narco News to make the following election-week projection: Dr. Rosalba will win the freedom of Doc and Mariana sooner than those above can imagine. But Felipe Calderòn’s presidential ambitions are going soon to a very special prison known as the dustbin of history. And even if his friends at IFE (Calderón and his wife – federal congresswoman Margarita Zavala, sister of Diego Hildebrando Zavala – were two of the elite invited guests to IFE chairman Luis Carlos Ugalde’s December 2003 wedding) try to impose Calderón as Sunday’s alleged victor, the objective conditions – in the courts and, more importantly, in the streets – will set in motion an historic crisis that will make it impossible for Calderón to occupy the presidential chair by the December 1 inauguration date. Narco News therefore projects Dr. Rosalba Gómez Rivera as the winner of this contest.

Roberto Madrazo?
…or Angel Benhumea?

Angel Benhumea, father of the late Ollin Alexis Benhumea, came to the same public human rights meeting on Tuesday and shared the stage with Dr. Rosalba, and during his presentation his voice choked up with emotion, fighting back tears as he remembered an important detail about the May 4 police raid in Atenco, when his son was hit in the head by a “Made In USA” teargas canister. Angel addressed Dr. Rosalba: “I want to thank your husband,” he said of Doc Selvas. “He went outside to look for help for my son and today he is in prison because of it.”


Angel Benhumea
Photo: D.R. 2006 Greg Berger
Across Mexico City, PRI presidential candidate Roberto Madrazo was holding his final capital city campaign rally, an event at which many thousands of people were bused in from the nearby State of Mexico by its PRI Governor Enrique Peña Nieto, the official who ordered the May 4 police raid on Atenco. And that is basically how the PRI ruled Mexico for most of its seventy-year monopoly rule in the last century: Where dissent occurs, they send in the cops to bust heads. Often, one, or two, or more are assassinated in the process. They take political prisoners. Peña Nieto – of “the New PRI” – showed what “new” means when he added the systematic police gang rape of women detainees to the old PRI formula on May 4.

Most of the political pundits that follow this year’s election in Mexico say that Madrazo and the PRI haven’t got a shot at the presidency. They cite his distant third-place standing in the polls, his high negative ratings, his lackluster performance in the debates and his inability to enter the fray between the two frontrunners as evidence that he will lose on Sunday.

But with the legitimacy now stripped from any possible declaration by IFE that Calderón will be the “winner” on Sunday, the possibility of a “Madrazo Surprise” is reopened. The problem, likewise, would be one of illegitimacy. The Mexican public is not likely to buy it. In order to argue its legitimacy, the defenders of the system would have to construct data to retroactively to justify such a bizarre “result.”

In fact, a very good friend and operative of U.S. President George Bush has already done the work that would be vital to justify the surprise return of Madrazo and the PRI on Sunday. His name is Lionel Sosa. And – viola! – he has produced an apocryphal poll that differs from all others in its claim that Madrazo is in second place.

Trumpeting this supposed scenario in which “It’s a Two Horse Race” between Madrazo and López Obrador, Sosa’s organization, “Mexicans and Americans Thinking Together” – MATT, or Matt.org – announced in mid-June:

“With the Mexican Presidential election only two weeks away and a new round of polling completed in MATT’s historic presidential poll, a 3-way tie is looking more like a 2-horse race. If the election were held today, Calderon would be out of the race. Why? Because he would need almost 80% of the undecided votes to overtake Obrador; a statistical and political impossibility. What other polls don’t see is this: with Calderon out of the race, the number 2 horse, Madrazo, is running stronger than anyone thinks.”

The “poll results” claim that López Obrador was at 33.8 percent, Madrazo at 28.3 percent and Calderón at 27.2 percent. Not only do they set up something for those above to point to after proclaiming a “Madrazo Surprise” on Sunday, but they set up the organization – Matt.org – to obtain the glory of having been the proverbial only ones to have seen it coming. So, who exactly is behind Matt.org?

The San Antonio Express-News reported on May 5 of this year that Matt.org is the child of Texas adman Lionel Sosa, that the group began with $5 million dollars in “seed money,” and that its website uncloaked in early May. “A group of Mexican businesspeople has put up $5 million for the project,” reported the Express-News. And the project makes no bones about being a moneymaker. The newspaper reported:

“By fall, Sosa expects to establish MATT.biz, selling products and services and making its nonprofit side self-sustaining.

“‘This, to me, is the most important thing I’ve ever done,’ said Sosa, who will be 67 next week. ‘I’m like a kid again.’

“Sosa, named one of Time magazine’s ‘25 Most Influential Hispanics’ last year, founded the largest Hispanic ad agency in the United States with clients such as Coca-Cola and Burger King and annual billings of more than $100 million. The portrait artist is also author of the forthcoming ‘Think & Grow Rich: A Latino Choice’ with the Napoleon Hill Foundation.

“As CEO, he will oversee operations, including its Web site, content and marketing with an eye toward business returns…”

The Texas daily neglected one teensy-weensy fact about Lionel Sosa that Time magazine emphasized when naming him one of those “25 Most Influential Hispanics” last year; Sosa is a Republican Party operative in the United States. And Time reported that Sosa worked producing ads for George W. Bush in 2004:

“In 1980 Ronald Reagan reached out to Sosa, who created gauzy, feel-good ads that focused on the candidate rather than the issues, promising Latinos that Republicans shared their values of family, personal responsibility and hard work. “It’s an insight Ronald Reagan gave me,” says Sosa, who has worked on six presidential campaigns. “He told me Latinos are Republican. They just don’t know it yet.” With Sosa’s help, George W. Bush snared an estimated 40% of Latino voters in 2004, a huge jump from Bob Dole’s 21% in 1996.”

This business about undisclosed “Mexican businesspersons” who put up five million dollars for Sosa’s organization is awfully reminiscent of the “Democracy Watch” scam of 2000, when Texan Republican political consultant Rob Allyn appeared in the final weeks of the presidential campaign claiming to represent an “impartial” organization that meddled in the Mexican elections. Narco News reported it at the time. After the election, Allyn uncloaked as Vicente Fox’s campaign consultant (this year he’s been advising Calderón). Allyn, back then, also claimed unnamed Mexican businesspeople as his backers, and refused to disclose them when pushed by the Mexican press to do so.


Roberto Madrazo
Photo: Cámara de Diputados
But if Washington’s endgame in this year’s Mexican elections is to pop out a “Madrazo Surprise” the Mexican public is not going to accept it after being told for weeks that Madrazo and the hated PRI are out of the race? And, well, if Sosa’s supposed poll – it claims to have interviewed 116,000 voters, which, if true, would make it the largest of the year – is used as justification, the Sosa-Bush connection will get wide play South of the Border. Which means, just as in the scenario in which the IFE would declare Calderón the winner, a fast-developing national revolt in Mexico coming in July, with the added element of wide perception of Bush administration meddling in the process. And remembering the Great American Boycott of May 1, that revolt might even spread North of the Border.

The added complication to the “Madrazo Surprise” scenario is, of course, that of the PRI and its history of brutal repression against citizens who protest. Authorities might attempt “another Atenco” on a national level. But – do the math – what they would get in response is “another Oaxaca.” It was there, on June 14, that another PRI governor, Ulises Ruiz Ortiz, tried to crush the striking teachers’ occupation of Oaxaca City’s historic center with 3,000 club-swinging, teargas-tossing police. It was roughly the same number of police as the 3,000 used in Atenco. Only in Atenco those 3,000 courageous cops were up against just 200 blockaders. In Oaxaca, they awakened more than 15,000 teachers. After the first skirmishes in the dawn’s early light, the teachers regrouped and gave those cops the ass-whooping of their lives, taking back the city square and 56 downtown blocks in a couple hours or less.

Here’s a mathematical theorem from our “looking below” strategy room: It requires two cops to subdue one pissed off Mexicano (three, in the case of a Mexicana). In Atenco the ratio was 15-to-1 in favor of the police. But in Oaxaca it was 5-to-1 against them and the cops were humiliated in battle. The mere perception of an election fraud this year would bring protestors out into the streets in every city and state, and on important rural highways. They would outnumber every cop and soldier in the country by a factor of at least five to one. It would indeed be “Another Oaxaca” except in every state and entity throughout the country, including blockades that would shut down commerce from South to North.

The question then becomes – because this mathematical theorem applies to situations in which the police primarily use nightsticks, teargas, shields, beatings and arrests as their weapons – would the police or Armed Forces then escalate and use real guns with real bullets? (Yes, they used them somewhat in Atenco and Oaxaca, but this question refers to a more widespread and intentional causation of a massacre of historic proportions.) The answer can be found in what happened between May 4 in Atenco and June 14 in Oaxaca.

What was different about Oaxaca from Atenco was that the Federal Preventive Police did not answer Governor Ulises Ruiz’s appeal for them to join in the attack. He was left with just 2,300 state troopers, and padded that group with 700 rent-a-cops, primarily from the Banking and Industrial Police – those guys that stand around outside of banks and shopping malls caressing their guns and looking scary – who have never been trained to conduct police riots. Indeed, in Oaxaca, those mall cops were six of the eight who were captured by the teachers and held as ransom until Ulises backed down.

There are, no doubt, forces up above and to the extreme right of Mexico that would be eager to quell a post-electoral revolt against election fraud and put it down with guns. One of them is the PAN party of Felipe Calderón and Vicente Fox, whose spokesman, César Nava Vázquez, told the daily Impacto newspaper on May 17: “Mexico counts with solid institutions to enforce the Mexican elections, and that job will require the Army.”

But as with the Federal Police’s participation in the violent attack on Atenco May 4, the national government would get just one shot – pardon the dark pun – to do so. And what Atenco shows is that not even assassination can stop a popular movement in 2006.

Ask the father who lost the most in Atenco: “The Benhumea family will continue fighting,” Angel Benhumea said on Tuesday, alongside Dr. Rosalba and others. He criticized “the media, the institutions and the intellectuals” for ignoring his family’s continued quest for justice. “Atenco was not a paramilitary action. It was a military action, conducted by police and soldiers that were trained in the United States.”

The assassination of his son hasn’t stopped or silenced Angel Benhumea. Do César Nava Vázquez or Vicente Fox or Roberto Madrazo or Felipe Calderón believe that a murderous repression to enforce an election fraud will work any differently to silence and stop other families and movements? Based on this “poll from below” Narco News projects Angel Benhumea (and millions like him) as the winner over Roberto Madrazo on Sunday, regardless of what the IFE tries to declare. A declaration by IFE of a “Madrazo Surprise,” as with a “Calderón Fraud,” will not be accepted down below. And not even assassination or massacre will be able to enforce either scenario. Which brings this analysis to the third possible scenario, one in which Mexican President Vicente Fox does a “bait-and-switch” as the elections are annulled and an “interim” president is imposed by Congress…

Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas?
…or Italia Méndez?

On Tuesday, in Mexico City, Italia Méndez sat alongside our other projected winners, Dr. Rosalba and Angel, where she said, “Today we are obligated to fight for the freedom of the political prisoners. But the bigger struggle is for the freedom of everybody.” This newspaper has already reported the brutal tortures inflicted on Méndez and other women arrested in Atenco on May 4, and is preparing a report about her May 17 criminal complaint against those responsible.


Italia Méndez
Photo: D.R. 2006 Carlos Servín
As Méndez gathered with hundreds of members of the Zapatista Other Campaign on Tuesday, the daily Impacto published a front page story, becoming the first daily newspaper to say aloud what the entire political class in Mexico has been speculating in recent days: a scenario by which the elections would be annulled and an interim president appointed by Congress. The scenario by itself does not hold water. But those who argue for it say there is one political figure in Mexico who, if imposed this way, could neutralize the push toward a national revolt against electoral fraud. That man, they have whispered, would be Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas, founder of López Obrador’s PRD party.

Their thinking goes like this: It is an accepted tenet of Mexican political history that Cárdenas was the true victor of the 1988 presidential election (read that history and documentation here). On that July night of 1988 election returns showed Cárdenas to be in the lead but then the electoral computer system reportedly “crashed.” When it was booted back up again, Carlos Salinas de Gortari was declared the winner.

The adherents of this theory – that the appointment of Cárdenas as interim president would supposedly head off a post-electoral revolt – note that it would be sold as latent justice, as the final acknowledgement by the State of the robbery that occurred and the return of the “property” – the presidency of the Republic – to its rightful “owner,” being Cárdenas. In their thinking, Cárdenas would have the moral authority to avoid a post-election conflict and López Obrador’s PRD party – the party founded by Cárdenas – would go along with the maneuver, leaving López Obrador high and dry even in victory.

Add to this theory that the public behavior of Cárdenas of late has been a bit strange. He has avoided publicly campaigning for López Obrador. He has met with other candidates and held a joint press conference with Madrazo. He has flown off to Brasilia to meet with Brazilian President Lula da Silva recently. And this month he accepted an appointment by Vicente Fox to chair Mexico’s 1810-2010 Bicentennial Commission.

To be fair, though, there is no evidence that Cárdenas himself is a participant in this scenario. But here is what Juan Bustillos wrote on June 27 in the daily Impacto, which calls the election nullification scenario Fox’s “Plan B”:

“The beneficiary of this strategy planned and operated from Los Pinos (the Mexican White House)… would be, in the ultimate paradox, Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas.

“Pushed by his historic enemy, the Right, the general’s son would achieve his dream of being equal to or greater than his father, General Lázaro Cárdenas.

“Yes, it seems crazy, but let no one be able to say they were fooled if the confidential information obtained by Impacto becomes reality a week from now when the streets of the 100 principal cities, starting with the capital, are invaded by groups from all political factions claiming fraud and demanding that the elections be annulled.”

Bustillos adds to this theory – which he claims comes from a top advisor to López Obrador – an added attraction: that Cárdenas has already expressed his public desire to parlay his Bicentennial Commission post into an effort to form a new Constitution for Mexico, beginning with a Constituent Assembly or Constitutional Convention. After all, this is one of the demands of the Zapatista Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle and, brandishers of this theory posit that even the Other Campaign could be co-opted by this scenario and prevented from leading a post-electoral national rebellion.


Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas
Photo: University of Chicago Press Office
This conspiracy theory, though, falls hard upon certain rocks of reality. First, there is a reason why polls inside the PRD showed only a small fraction of its militants wanted Cárdenas to be the party candidate again (for the fourth time; a la Lula, or Allende, or Mitterand or Reagan) and the overwhelming majority instead chose the younger AMLO. Many Mexicans have never forgiven Cárdenas for not leading a national revolt in 1988 against that election’s robbery. Instead, he opted to meet in private with the thief, Carlos Salinas, and emerged telling his supporters to calm down. In his subsequent two presidential campaigns, he led the PRD to crushing defeats. One of Cárdenas’ co-founders of the PRD, Porfirio Muñoz Ledo, recently published a memoir in which he counts himself among those who opposed Cárdenas’ 1988 acquiescence to the stolen election. He told the daily Impacto, when asked about this 2006 scenario, “We must not allow this process and its results to become judicialized.” PRD Senator César Raúl Ojeda, of the state of Tabasco, told the newspaper that the PAN was “using Cárdenas as part of a campaign to instill panic.”

Truth be told, the concept of a new Constitution in Mexico, although proposed by the Zapatistas, has been only very rarely mentioned along the Other Campaign trail these past six months. Some observers and participants are looking at a similar effort underway in Bolivia and the problems inherent in it, and are waiting to see how it comes out before going out on a limb for a similar process in Mexico.

Others, like the Kinta Brigada (“the Fifth Brigade”) of which recently released political prisoner Italia Méndez is a member, oppose the existence of a State altogether, and thus differ with the Zapatista proposal for a new Constitution. In its 2005 document, “The Fifth… Enters the Sixth,” the Fifth Brigade explained its utopian position:

“But in this we do not join ourselves to the effort to generate a new constitution, because we are certain that what we need is not another constitution that somebody will make us comply with; that what we need aren’t laws to obey, nor control apparatuses in charge of making us comply, nor do we need a homogenizing ideal that denies cultural diversity. We believe that what is important is working for self-management and autonomy of peoples, based on mutual aid, the recognition of the others, and mutual and collective cooperation, based on autonomous forms of organization, where we all make agreements that we are ready to comply with and work for them. A constitution needs a state that makes it work, a state needs police and military corps to make obedience and these are apparatuses of power and control and all power and all control rot the hearts and the dreams of those who feel themselves their owners. Power and control corrupt although they were not created with the intention to subjugate. When someone feels power and control his greed and his vanity explode. Thus, we believe in fighting not for a new constitution, not for laws, but for the autonomous organization of peoples, communities, barrios, and social entities, to fight for agreements and solve the collective problems working collectively and deciding collectively. We believe in the figure of the collective, the assembly – autonomous, collective and popular, or following each community, people or barrio’s own forms – to organize itself and decide on its own, and so we do not seek to make laws that someone obliges others to comply with. Better said, we must seek and make agreements that we are all disposed to comply with. And that is how we join ourselves to the call of the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle…”

This philosophy in favor of autonomy over State power infused much of Italia Méndez’s presentation on Tuesday. When she spoke of the lawsuit filed by six other women arrested in Atenco for the sexual violations inflicted upon them, she clarified, “We know that we are not going to obtain justice through this lawsuit. But neither are we going to be silenced.”

Similarly, she said, “We know that nothing appears in the media. But we know how to do this work of spreading the word without it.”

If Cárdenas wishes to pitch a new Constitution to the Mexican people as his final grand legacy, he would have a difficult enough time selling the idea to many sectors – not just anarchists or indigenous communities – that are inherently distrustful of the State and reluctant to ask its permission to do anything. Under normal circumstances, he would be well positioned to make that pitch and make progress on it. But not under the cloud that would haunt him from being installed as president essentially by Vicente Fox and a hated Congress. That, alone, would cause his constitutional proposals to be dead on arrival. Add to that the likelihood that his possible appointment in an election nullification scenario won’t stop the protests from occurring, and the subsequent need by the State to repress them violently. There is only so much of that ugliness that Cárdenas could withstand before having to bow out altogether as a presidential wildcard.

For those reasons, Narco News is able to project Italia Méndez – and thousands of anti-authoritarians like her – as the winners over a “Cuauhtémoc bait-and-switch” scenario.

The Other Campaign and its adherents, as we have explained, have already won against the first three possible scenarios: the “Calderón Fraud,” the “Madrazo Surprise,” and the “Cuauhtémoc Bait-and-Switch.”

And unless the foremen of the Mexican political class – its IFE, its Fox – and its owners (the US Embassy, and including foreign business interests in Mexico: we’ve documented here the special role of Lionel Sosa and the Bush political machine in the recent shenanigans) are dumber than doornails, they are left with just one page in their playbook to stall a revolution from happening in Mexico this Summer of 2006. That is, Narco News projects, the system will allow López Obrador to win, which is the easiest path anyway because, in this election campaign, he has won over the most votes.

And that’s the end of the story, right?

Not so fast…

Andrés Manuel López Obrador?
…or Hortencia Ramos Pineda?

The Mexican political class and its owners have been backed into a corner. Up above, López Obrador will have gotten the most votes, but that is not the whole story. The other side of the story is that an electoral fraud – easy to commit, hard to detect – will have been headed off at the pass.


Andrés Manuel López Obrador
Photo: El Golfo
The continued existence of the Zapatista Other Campaign – the only campaign that can’t lose on election day, because it did not field a candidate – guarantees that any attempted electoral fraud or “interim presidency” tricks will face a national rebellion, whether or not the losing political parties or candidates join in that rebellion. Unlike in 1988 with Cárdenas and the PRD, the candidates and the parties no longer have a monopoly or exclusive power to resolve that question. To be rebellious, or not to be rebellious, that would be the question.

And so the most likely scenario (again, unless the system is more stupid than it is said to be) is that the IFE will grit its teeth and count the votes and declare López Obrador to be the winner.

The right side of the political class will gnash its teeth and panic. The center-left side of the political class will celebrate jubilantly. The media will have a field day with its new toy: a “leftist” in power in Mexico. All sides will proclaim Mexico’s grand commitment to “democracy.” Instead of riots in the streets, there will be raised hopes and expectations.

But there is a problem that does not go away: 27 political prisoners in Atenco, almost 200 more ex-prisoners out on bail with trumped-up charges hanging over their heads, a national movement (the Other Campaign, with organization in every state and region of Mexico) that wants them freed, a significant network of international solidarity and sympathy, and a media-savvy spokesman, Delegate Zero (Subcomandante Marcos), with the goal of defeating a capitalist economic system and that is skeptical about López Obrador.

And then there is Hortencia Ramos Pineda.


Hortencia Ramos Pineda
Photo: D.R. 2006 Nives Gobo
On Tuesday, at the human rights forum in Mexico City, in the middle of Italia Méndez’s commentary, a busload of Atenco residents – mostly women – arrived with their machete swords raised high into the air. The event, in the Circulo Teatral theater, had already seen every seat filled. The “Atencas” filled the balcony around the stage and every other nook and cranny. (The Chicana author Stephanie Elizondo Griest, there with the Narco News team, commented: “This could never happen in the United States! A theater this full and then people enter with machetes?”)

Hortencia sat on the edge of the balcony, legs dangling down, with her machete pointed upwards. When it came her turn to speak, on behalf of the People’s Front for Defense of the Land (FPDT, in its Spanish initials) she made the case for freeing the political prisoners of Atenco.

“We are getting over what they did to us,” she said of the repression of May 4. “But what they did to our children is irreparable. The pressure they continue to put on us is in the form of harassment. The state told the school directors a lie that the FPDT will take the schools hostage because they want to put patrol cars at the schools. But when the children see a state police patrol car the first thing they feel is fear.”

“But through organization, we are going to take their license to kill away from them,” she said. “And, so, what more can we say but… Zapata Vive!

Narco News is unable to make a scientific projection of what will happen next if the IFE declares López Obrador as Sunday’s victor. But the following facts are relevant:

There will be a period of five months before he would be inaugurated, on December 1.

During that time, he will announce many of his top political appointments. With some, he will please the crowd. With others, he will please the international business community.

The Zapatista Other Campaign will still be here. Indeed, as the Open Letter that begins this analysis said almost a year ago, Marcos should have been back in the Chiapas jungle by now, awaiting the returns from the election up above. Instead, he is in Mexico City, fighting for the release of Other Campaign adherents in prison or facing charges from Atenco. He still has twelve Mexican states to travel in the North of the country; a trip delayed by the fight to free the prisoners.

López Obrador would prefer that Marcos head north rather than be underfoot, crashing the party of AMLO’s political honeymoon. But, in this scenario, he won’t be president for another five months. His political adversaries – Fox of the PAN, and Mexico State Governor Enrique Peña Nieto of the PRI, who is holding those people hostage – would probably prefer that Marcos be in Mexico City, troubling López Obrador in the ongoing battle for the hearts and minds of “the left.” And one of the first indications of how much clout an incoming López Obrador will be able to wield will be whether he can convince Fox and/or Peña Nieto to free the hostages.

No scientific projection can yet be made as to how it will go. But it seems plausible that up above enough deals will be struck to get Marcos and the Other Campaign out of Mexico City and back on the road, under the radar of the mass media, which is where the Other Campaign in fact prefers to be, too. But the tour cannot continue with the compañeros and compañeras – like Doc, like Mariane, like Hortencia’s Atenco neighbors – still in prison.

Meanwhile, it seems likely that many of López Obrador’s first political appointees will mirror his campaign hierarchy, with a heavy participation by former PRI party members and neoliberal economists. As AMLO begins to make those appointments, there will be two types of flight from his organization: those who ideologically can’t stomach the neoliberals or the PRI, who will be beating a path to adhere to the Other Campaign (the last remaining space available to them on the political spectrum) and, also, those PRD militants who mistakenly thought that the AMLO administration posts belonged to them.

Once installed on December 1 – presuming that the fourth scenario of an acknowledged electoral victory by López Obrador comes true – AMLO will have to begin facing the demands and grievances of the Mexican citizenry, including from sectors of his own support bases: unions, farmer organizations, environmental defenders, and many others. If he proves to govern like, say, Lula da Silva of Brazil, his political appointees “of the left” are going to have to grin and bear the treasons to keep their new jobs. But unlike in Brazil, there will be a national network on the left – the Other Campaign – with no hesitation to agitate and organize on behalf of the demands of the population.

The Other Campaign has already drawn a map of where the conflicts will occur in the 20 southern and central states: the big ones include the mega-project of Oaxaca’s Isthmus of Tehuantepec, the La Parota Dam project in Guerrero, the El Batan water project in Querétaro, various controversial airport projects in many states (Atenco, revisited), the continued occupation by 70,000 Mexican Army troops in Chiapas and the autonomous municipalities they surround, and hundreds of seemingly smaller fights – a Wal-Mart here, an unwanted construction project or road over there – and the economic needs and grievances in every sector of labor.

There are plenty of true believers that see in AMLO mystical powers to solve all these disputes. They will either emerge disillusioned – and join the Other Campaign, which continues into 2007 and beyond – or López Obrador really does have a solution up his sleeve to heal so many open wounds and cease so many ongoing threats.

The Zapatista spokesman Subcomandante Marcos acknowledged this possibility, too, in his open letter of last summer. He wrote to AMLO-supporter don Fermín:

“But maybe you will win and they will recognize the victory. Maybe you will arrive at the presidency of Mexico. Maybe it will turn out that López Obrador lied to the gringos and the businessmen and he won’t keep his promises to them. Maybe, then, a grand transformation of the country will begin, a transformation from the left. And, if so, what can I say, don Fermín? Well, there will be a lot of noise, joy, fiesta. Maybe then you will see in your town a poster inviting you to a meeting of ‘the Other Campaign.’ And you will hear men and women there asking the people how their struggles are going, how they organize themselves, what they think of the world, of our country, of their place. Maybe you’ll come by to see what it is about. Maybe you’ll see me there and confront me and you’ll say, ‘Comanche, I am don Fermín who wrote you that letter.’ And I will look at you and smile. You will smile too and you will say to me, ‘damn Comanche, you were wrong.’ And I’ll say, “damn Fermín, I was wrong.’ And neither you nor I will feel offended by the ‘damn’ part. And we will hug strongly and we will smile, both of us, together, and we will be happy, both of us: You, because we were wrong, and we, also because we were wrong.

“But listen, don Fermín, if it turns out that we were not wrong, you and those like you won’t remain silent if they don’t recognize our indigenous rights, if they attack us, if they kidnap us, if they torture us, if those who govern of the PRD don’t keep their promises, if they continue selling out our homeland, completely or in parts, if they continue with all the corruptions and betrayals?”

The only absolutely predictable outcome of a López Obrador victory on Sunday is that he will survive politically to govern, and that the Zapatista Other Campaign will also survive politically to push his government or to seek to topple it if it turns out to embody just another broken promise on the left. Either way, the two surviving campaigns – AMLO’s and the Other Campaign – will enter an interesting dance, a story that will likely not be reported by the Commercial Media until it either comes to blows or if they conclude that the Conventional Wisdom – that AMLO will not make great or radical changes in the system – was wrong: in which case they will demonize López Obrador and a bigger fight will ensue, perhaps placing the Other Campaign and a radicalized Mexican government on the same side.

But all of that is only if the IFE counts the votes and allows López Obrador the victory that he has won by playing by their rules.

This Narco News electoral projection could also be wrong. Perhaps the system really will attempt a “Calderón Fraud,” a “Madrazo Surprise” or a “Cuauhtémoc Bait-and-Switch.” It would do so ignoring the math that Oaxaca recently demonstrated vis-à-vis how many cops or soldiers or teargas canisters – or bullets? – it takes to put down a betrayed Mexican public. But if so, we repeat: The revolution will begin in July. And, probably, not all of us will survive it. But neither will the system. And it will not end at Mexican national boundaries. Those up above won’t provoke that. Or will they? On Sunday evening, July 2, 2006, the official campaigns, all but one of them, will end, but the next stage of this very “Other” campaign begins.

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