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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
06MEXICO4238
2006-08-01 14:05:00
UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Embassy Mexico
Cable title:  

AMLO URGES SUPPORTERS "TO SAVE DEMOCRACY"

Tags:   PGOV  PREL  PINR  MX 
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						UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MEXICO 004238 

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PINR MX
SUBJECT: AMLO URGES SUPPORTERS "TO SAVE DEMOCRACY"

REF: A. A) MEXICO 3953

B. B) MEXICO 3832



1. (SBU) Summary: At his third mass "informational meeting,"
Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO, presidential candidate of
the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), called on his
supporters to begin a continuous vigil until the electoral
tribunal (TEPJF) issues its final decision with respect to
the presidential election results. Speaking before a crowd
varyingly estimated at between 180,000 and 2 million
participants, AMLO called upon his supporters to set up
"camps" on Mexico City's central plaza and on major
thoroughfares. Within hours and in what was clearly a
well-organized effort, large tents were erected along several
major thoroughfares, causing havoc to Mexico City's already
complicated traffic. In considerably broadening his campaign
of civil disobedience in a manner that will directly impact
the lives of millions of Mexico City residents, AMLO is
pursuing a high risk strategy that ensures his cause will not
be ignored -- and that risks alienating many erstwhile
supporters. End summary.

The Two Million Man March Falls Short


--------------------------





2. (SBU) On July 30, AMLO led thousands of supporters, many
bused in from out-of-town, in a march along Mexico's
principal thoroughfare to the Zocalo or central square, where
he addressed the assembled masses. The march and rally was
the third in the series of "informational meetings" he has
held since the July 2 election (ref A). Estimates of the
crowd size varied widely and as usual were highly
politicized. While the Federal Preventative Police (PFP)
estimated the crowd at 180,000, the PRD-led Mexico City
government estimated it at two million, neatly matching the
goal the party had set in advance of the event. Daily
newspaper Reforma claimed to have conducted a careful study
of the size of the crowd, based upon an enlarged, aerial
photo, and estimated it at 348,000. A poloff who attended
both yesterday's rally and the first one (ref B) noted that
although yesterday's rally appeared somewhat larger than the
first one -- at which the crowd was estimated at between
150,000 and 280,000 -- it was not dramatically larger,
suggesting that the Reforma estimate may be closer to the
mark than either of the two conflicting official estimates.



3. (U) Speaking to his assembled supporters, AMLO announced
that the challenge they faced was one of saving Mexican
democracy. He noted that in a country as unequal as Mexico,
democracy provided millions of poor their only hope of
improving their lives, and that once democratic means of
protest are restricted, the only remaining alternatives are
submission or violence. He contended that the TEPJF

magistrates were being subject to strong pressures from those
who consider themselves "Mexico's masters and lords." He
added "it's not that we do not respect institutions, it's
that in our country, unfortunately, we do not have a
tradition that assures us that the men managing the
institutions act with rectitude and decency." Further
emphasizing his distrust of institutions, he added that while
many invoke the "rule of law," in Mexico, those responsible
for administering justice have used the rule of law to
"legalize...the abuses that the strong commit," rather than
to protect the weak. He said that while he hoped the TEPJF
magistrates would act "responsibly," he would not sit idly
"with his arms crossed."

Camping in the Streets


--------------------------





4. (U) AMLO then proposed that he and his followers stay "in
a Permanent Assembly" until the Tribunal pronounced its
decision. He proposed that his followers set up 31 "camps"
on the Zocalo, one for each Mexican state, and that sixteen
additional camps -- one for each Mexico City ward -- be set
up along several major thoroughfares, including Paseo de la
Reforma. He insisted that the camps maintain "discipline,
respect and cleanliness," urging his supporters to protect
gardens and historic monuments in the area. He also
announced that artistic and cultural events will be held at
each of the camps. He said that he himself would live in the
camps until the TEPJF reached its decision, and indeed was
reported to have spent the night in a tent on the Zocalo. He
concluded his remarks by noting that he would announce
further planned acts of civil disobedience in the future.
There were no reports of violence during the rally.

MEXICO 00004238 002 OF 002





5. (SBU) During the evening hours, large tarpaulin tents
were erected over segments of Paseo de la Reforma, in what
was clearly a well-organized -- and possibly well-funded --
effort. Some supporters erected smaller, more private tents
on the blockaded streets. Although the encampments wreaked
havoc on the Monday morning rush hour, the authorities in the
PRD-controlled Mexico City municipal government announced
that the blockages did not violate the law and that they
would not intervene unless the protesters actually committed
a crime.

A 21st Century Caudillo


--------------------------





6. (SBU) In a discussion with poloff, political analyst
Rosanna Fuentes-Berain noted that in turning to civil
resistance to pressure the electoral authorities, AMLO has
fallen back on the strategy that has worked best for him in
the past. She noted that his tactics fell squarely within
Mexico's long tradition of political strongmen (caudillos)
manipulating the masses and commented on the irony in his
demands for transparency and accountability, two qualities
for which, she said, his administration of Mexico City had
not been known. She feared, however, that AMLO's
intransigence left no room for compromise, and criticized
Felipe Calderon as well for not showing flexibility. She
argued that in resolving the current standoff, a rigid
adherence to the rule of law would backfire and that the
TEPJF magistrates needed to show political sensitivity to
avoid exacerbating tensions.

Comment: AMLO Ups the Ante


--------------------------





7. (SBU) Comment: In going beyond mass rallies and actually
blocking major Mexico City thoroughfares -- perhaps for an
extended period -- AMLO has upped the ante considerably.
While until now most Mexicans followed AMLO's rallies and the
occasional small-scale act of civil disobedience on the
television news, his current tactics will have a direct
impact on the lives of millions living in the Mexico City
metropolitan area. In pursuing this high-stakes strategy, he
risks alienating many people who voted for him, but who
resent the inconvenience created by these blockages.
Moreover, while until now he appears to have been operating
with considerable support from the PRD-led municipal
government, the municipal government undoubtedly will find
itself under increasing pressure both from angry commuters
and from business owners whose enterprises are being hurt by
the disruption. It remains to be seen whether over time, the
political price of AMLO's tactics will prove too high to
sustain. End comment


Visit Mexico City's Classified Web Site at
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/wha/mexicocity

GARZA