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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
06MEXICO4292
2006-08-03 13:37:00
UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Embassy Mexico
Cable title:  

A VISIT TO THE PROTEST'S GROUND ZERO

Tags:   PGOV  PREL  PINR  MX 
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DE RUEHME #4292/01 2151337
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 031337Z AUG 06
FM AMEMBASSY MEXICO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2496
INFO RUEHXC/ALL US CONSULATES IN MEXICO COLLECTIVE
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RHMFIUU/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RHMFIUU/CDR USNORTHCOM
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
						UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MEXICO 004292 

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PINR MX
SUBJECT: A VISIT TO THE PROTEST'S GROUND ZERO

REF: MEXICO 4238



1. (SBU) Summary: On July 31 and August 2, Poloffs visited
Mexico City's central square or Zocalo to observe ground zero
in the ongoing protest of the supporters of PRD candidate
Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO). Thousands of
demonstrators were camped out in the Zocalo and on Juarez and
Madero streets, as well as on Paseo de la Reforma, all major
streets leading from the Zocalo. Camps appeared to be well
organized with about 100 supporters in each of the 31
encampments (one for each state) within the Zocalo, with
sixteen additional encampments (one for each Mexico City
ward) along major roads, including Paseo de la Reforma.
According to demonstrators, their goal is to keep the number
of people in each camp stable until the Tribunal calls for a
"vote-by-vote" recount. Many are prepared to camp out for
weeks, while others expect to be replaced by a fresh band of
supporters every few days. Most supporters indicated that if
the Tribunal does not rule in their favor, they would wait
for further direction from AMLO. Overall, the environment in
the Zocalo and on the blockaded streets was very much like
that of a block party, with live music, street vendors
selling food, and even chess tournaments taking place under
tents. Supporters emphasized that the protests would remain
peaceful, but indicated that more forms of civil resistance
might be forthcoming. End Summary.

A Visit to Ground Zero


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





2. (SBU) On July 31, Poloffs visited "the Permanent
Assembly" called for by AMLO in his July 30 speech (reftel).
Most encampment activity appears to be concentrated in the
Zocalo, followed by the nearby main street of Juarez. The
encampments were well-organized, grouping protesters
representing states or civil society organizations, and a
stream of large shuttle buses belonging to various state
contingents surrounded the plaza. In one area on the plaza,
AMLO supporters had set up a stand where people could
photocopy their voting credentials and submit them in a
"symbolic urn" to demonstrate support for the PRD candidate.
The general atmosphere of both the Zocalo and the blockaded
streets seemed to be rather festive. Vendors selling food,
jewelry, and clothing, among other goods, were common. Most
demonstrators seemed to be enjoying themselves. One tent
near the Palacio de Bellas Artes even had a chess tournament
under way.



3. (SBU) Poloffs spoke to several groups camped out on the
Zocalo -- including the Workers Party and supporters from
Guerrero, Morelos, Tabasco, Hidalgo, Veracruz, Coahuila,
Oaxaca, and Sonora. Protesters discussed their reasons for
coming and their expected length of stay. With about 100

people in each state camp, some said that they planned on
staying for the "long-haul," while others said that they
would leave once they were replaced by a fresh band of
supporters -- with the goal of keeping camp numbers stable
throughout the duration of the protest. All camps agreed
they would stay until the Tribunal reached a decision and/or
until they receive instructions from AMLO on what to do next.
PRD supporters emphasized that the protests would remain
peaceful and that no one wanted to provoke violence.

Specific Comments


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





4. (U) A young woman from Mexico City, who appeared to be a
camp organizer, said that many of the people in her cadre,
mostly from Mexico City and Cuernavaca, had come to protest
what they viewed as irregularities at the polls. She said
many of her colleagues were concerned that President Bush
appeared to be backing Calderon before he was declared
President-elect. An older woman from the state of Guerrero
said she came to the Zocalo out of anger about alleged
vote-buying in her local town, claiming the PAN was paying
300 pesos per vote. At the Tabasco camp, a young man
commented that the Tabasco group's 100 participants planned
to stay until the decision of the Tribunal. In the event the
court does not rule in their favor, they would wait for
instructions from AMLO. As for demonstrators from Coahuila,
a Deputy from the state cited distrust in how IFE conducted
the vote tallies as one of the reasons her contingent had
come. She also complained that the media had helped to
manipulate the elections against the PRD. She said she did
not know what would happen if the Tribunal rejected AMLO,s
call for a complete recount of the votes.

MEXICO 00004292 002 OF 002



A Follow-Up Visit


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





5. (U) Poloffs made a follow up visit on August 2 to
reassess the situation in the Zocalo. Compared to two days
prior, the permanent encampment had become somewhat more
organized, with many more tents spread across the plaza. The
crowd appeared about the same in number, if not smaller, as
more tents had taken up space along the main plaza. As on
Paseo de la Reforma, many tents appeared to be sparsely
populated. The overall atmosphere was still festive, with
music playing and street vendors selling their goods to the
plaza's new tenants. However, one noticeable change was that
masked protesters had blockaded Pino Suarez, a street that
branches out from the Zocalo. In the tents themselves, it
appeared the demonstrators had brought in everyday
necessities, preparing to camp out for the foreseeable
future. A man helping to organize the Oaxaca camp said that
his group, which he estimated at over 300 people, was
prepared to stay until September 6, the day in which the
Electoral Tribunal must certify the election and declare a
winner. Poloffs also spoke to three men from the Sonora
state camp. They had come because they believed that
systematic fraud had occurred, and that the only way to
restore the credibility of the electoral process was to carry
out a complete recount as AMLO has demanded. They believed
more civil disobedience would take place if the Tribunal did
not rule in AMLO's favor.

Comment


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





6. (SBU) After speaking with demonstrators, it became clear
that those who have decided to stay in the encampments are
AMLO,s core supporters, and many repeated the same arguments
as to why the election results needed to be protested. In
many cases, it seemed as if the demonstrators were simply
repeating what they had been told during AMLO's "informative
assemblies" over the previous weeks. While the protests are
causing serious disruption to Mexico City traffic and
commerce, the protesters appeared sincere in their desire to
maintain a peaceful, if not festive, resistance to what they
and their candidate consider to be a fraudulent election.
Most of the supporters appear prepared to stay until the
decision of the Tribunal, unless AMLO instructs them
otherwise.


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

GARZA