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Monday, August 07, 2006 

Other Protests Around Mexico

As thousands of supporters for presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador (known by his initials as AMLO) continue protesting what is barely covered are the people who are participating in the acts of civil disobedience. So far, protest has crippled key areas of the capital, Mexico City, that includes its financial district (via Mercury Rising) and the elegant Reforma boulevard that houses the US Embassy and the headquarters of banks and major companies. According to Reuters, Mexico's stock market building was shut down for a short time because it was meant to show how far the protesters willing to go to protest.
They withdrew from the area at around 11 a.m. (1600 GMT), claiming a symbolic victory and threatening to return Friday.

"We're leaving now. This was a show of what we can start to do," said Graco Ramirez, a senator-elect from Lopez Obrador's Party of the Democratic Revolution, or PRD.
After two days of declines, Mexican stocks and the peso did recover on Wednesday, which analysts say the street blockade has contributed to their fall. President Vicente Fox has said the demonstrations were costing the capital commerce and keeping people from their jobs.

Many fear the street blockades will last for weeks, moreover, many Mexicans are frustrated and have wondered if he has going too far and have asked President Fox to step in. Both President Fox and the Interior Secretary Carlos Abascal have called on Mexico City's Mayor Alejandro Encinas to find a way to end the street protests. Nevertheless, their words only fallen on deaf ears, because Mexico City is run by AMLO's party, the Democratic Revolution Party (PRD).

What is not understood by the Mexican Government or those who are against AMLO, the people who have made their way into Mexico City knew what they were getting into and they have set up camp for the long term. There are those who question the tactics because at times, the tents are empty and assume it has more to do with a logistical operation to choke the city. However, the protesters are there on a mission, they are there for the long haul and they will protest in shifts, while taking time off from their families and/or their jobs till their demands have been met, a full recount of the Presidential election. Their message: We are many and we are not going away.
"I am headed to my new home," said Carmen Quintano Arcon, 44, a housewife ... "Whatever it takes."
As supporters occupy a five mile stretch of roadway, it is producing miles of congestion not making it easy to reach the US embassy, the Mexican stock exchange, the prime tourist district and countless hotels and smaller businesses.

For those who are trying to get downtown are either forced to end their taxi rides short and walk for blocks or give up on trying to get to work. There are reports that commuting time has taken as many as two extra hours to reach their downtown destination.

López Obrador was defeated by Felipe Calderón of the National Action Party (PAN, in Spanish) in the closest presidential election in modern Mexican history. Before and during the election, it was reported the country was split in half when it came to voting patterns. Felipe Calderón carried Mexico's northern half while López Obrador took the southern half.

Briefly mentioned are the small groups of protesters in the Northern States of Mexico that also engaged in acts of civil disobedience. Although these states are considered PAN strong holds, the places where these actions took place are very significant.

The call for civil disobedience reached Mexico/Texas border towns. On August 4, protesters supporting ALMO's call for civil disobedience blocked the international bridges in Nuevo Laredo, Reynosa and Matamoros. At a designated time, protesters blocked the foot of the bridges.

In Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, Mexico, at 9 am, protesters temporarily blocked traffic going northbound on Nuevo Laredo's International Bridge I - the Gateway to the Americas Bridge. According to the Laredo Morning Times, the protest lasted only for two hours and was lead by Alejandro Almaráz, head of the state committee of the PRD in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas, and fellow party member Francisco Chavira who also serves on Nuevo Laredo's city council.
"This type of manifestations will continue so long as (authorities) do not comply with the petitions of our candidate," Chavira said. "We are insisting on a vote-by-vote recount, polling site by polling site."
Moreover, like in Mexico City, both transit and city police did not attempt to disrupt the protesters.

Although the protest lasted for two hours, it did not put the Cities of Nuevo Laredo and Laredo, TX at a stand still; however, motorists and pedestrians were not pleased with the extra time it took to cross the border. Also according to the LMT, several people felt that the protest-taking place should not be allowed to affect life on the border.

In Matamoros, Tamaulipas, it was a different story. A small group of protesters blocked the main artery that led to the Matamoros-Brownsville Veterans International Bridge at Los Tomates. According to The Brownsville Herald, Cameron County Transportation Director Pete Sepulveda estimated that 100 vehicles and commercial trucks were on the bridge when the protest occurred.

The San Antonio Express-News reported that the protesters were not wearing the traditional party's trademark yellow shirts; however, they waved López Obrador campaign signs and held up signs that read "Stop Electoral Fraud." Rommel Delgado, a 23-year-old teacher, told the Express-News:
"We're here because we are sure that López Obrador won," Rommel Delgado, a 23-year-old teacher, said over the horns of miffed truckers and drivers. "Unfortunately, this is the only way to get the government to pay attention to us," Delgado said.
The Brownsville Herald reported that there were no incidents took place, except that drivers were just frustrated.
Juan Antonio Sanchez Zamarripa was in one of them.

"We just want to get home," Sanchez said, waiting for traffic to clear up. "Esta mal (It’s wrong)."
However, the Express-News, some drivers gave thumbs up and turned their vehicles around, while others "shouted expletives" at the group. Everando Guajardo, 18-wheeler truck driver, told The Express-News the protest caused him to miss his scheduled delivery of cotton he was carrying to the Port of Brownsville.
"Why don't they go in front of Congress?" he asked. "Why do they come mess with those of us who are just trying to make it through a work day?"
The demonstrations that took place in Matamoros were unlike the peaceful demonstration that took place in Nuevo Laredo. The Matamoros demonstration, did not last for two hours, but only 20 minutes because frustrated drivers decided to take matters into their own hands since the federal police also allowed the protest to take place.

According to The San Antonio Express-News, after one driver decided to "drive right through the protesters," other drivers followed the driver's example. The protest ended at 5:20 before the situation turned for the worse.

Even though the protest didn't last as long as it did in Nuevo Laredo, protest organizer and local party leader, Jorge de la Rosa, told The Brownsville Herald and the Express-News the blockade was just a "probadita," - a small taste of what to expect.
"This is just a taste of what's coming," Jorge de la Rosa, the protest organizer said. "Next time we will block it for 24-48 hours."
Unfortunately, there are no reports on what took place at Reynosa-McAllen international bridge protest. One has to wonder if Dudya's visit to McAllen, TX had anything to do with the lack of coverage. It would be interesting to know what the effects were and if Dudya got a first hand look.

Now that TRIFE rejected the full recount, on Sunday, August 6, AMLO addressed his supporters, letting them know he was in for the long haul. He is now raising the stakes for his bid for the disputed Mexican presidency by calling for the continuation and escalation of demonstrations.

The US will now feel the power of the Mexican people. During the protest, de la Rosa told The Brownsville Herald a major blockade is planned for all international traffic and trade on Aug. 21; every bridge stretching from Tijuana to Matamoros will be blocked. For how long? We will just have to wait and see. It is doubtful that any contingency plan done by US/Mexico border counties along with US Customs will counteract the effects.

de la Rose anger can best sum up the feelings of the millions of Mexican citizens who feel their democracy has been taken away from them. "This is a citizens' movement. We are fighting for our dignity.... I am tired of politicians who step on the pride of citizens."

A building is a symbol, as is the act of destroying it. Symbols are given power by people. A symbol, in and of itself is powerless, but with enough people behind it, blowing up a building can change the world. - V, V for Vendetta


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