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What's The Deal With The Mexican Elections?

Thu May 18, 2006 1:21 am

Just browsing across CNN and came across this article:

From the article:

MEXICO CITY, Mexico (AP) -- As presidential elections near, many Mexicans fear the country is teetering on the edge of chaos -- a perception that could hurt the ruling National Action Party and benefit Mexico's once-powerful Institutional Revolutionary Party.

Some blame President Vicente Fox for a weak government. Others say rivals are instigating the violence to create that impression, hoping to hurt National Action candidate Felipe Calderon, who has a slight lead in recent polls.

A poll published Friday in the Excelsior newspaper found 50 percent of respondents feared the government was on the brink of losing control. The polling company Parametria conducted face-to-face interviews at 1,000 homes across Mexico. The poll had a margin of error of 3 percentage points.

The conflicts are "a warning sign," said Yamel Nares, Parametria's research director.

Security is the top concern for Mexicans, and Fox has struggled to reform Mexico's notoriously corrupt police. Meanwhile, drug-related bloodshed has accelerated, with some cities seeing killings almost daily.

In April, suspected drug lords posted the heads of two police officers on a wall outside a government building where four drug traffickers died in a January 27 shootout with officers in the Pacific resort of Acapulco.

A sign nearby read: "So that you learn to respect."

Last week, Zapatista rebel leader Subcomandante Marcos said Mexico was in a "state of rage," and warned that tensions were similar to those that preceded the Zapatistas' brief armed uprising in January 1994 in the southern state of Chiapas.

He said his group is committed to peace, but many fear his increased public profile -- after years of hiding out in the jungle -- could foreshadow greater polarization among Mexican voters.

The masked leader said a May 3 clash that left a teenager dead and scores injured in San Salvador Atenco, 15 miles northeast of Mexico City, is an example of the growing tensions.

Marcos has been leading nearly daily demonstrations in the town following the incident, which began when a radical group of townspeople kidnapped and beat six policemen in a dispute over unlicensed flower vendors. Police responded with rage the next day. Television crews captured officers repeatedly beating unarmed protesters, and several detained women alleged that officers raped them.

The clash followed another bloody battle between steelworkers and police trying to break up an illegal strike at a plant in Lazaro Cardenas last month. Unions later threatened to shut down the country.

George Grayson, a Mexico expert at the College of William & Mary, said the violence reflects Fox's lack of leadership.

"The state has become much weaker under his watch," Grayson said.

Who's the law-and-order candidate?
Recent polls show Calderon has overtaken longtime presidential front-runner Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, whom opponents have portrayed as a leftist demagogue and compared to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

But that could change if PRI candidate Roberto Madrazo can convince voters that Mexico was more stable under his party's 71-year reign, which ended with Fox's victory in 2000. Mexican law bars presidents from seeking re-election.

Madrazo has tried to paint himself as the law-and-order candidate -- though so far his poll numbers have remained well behind those of Calderon and Lopez Obrador.

"It's not going to help Lopez Obrador who has been associated with the rabble rousers, but Madrazo can come out and say with his party at least Mexico had continued stability," Grayson said.

Gerardo Aranda, a tourism guide in Mexico City, said he won't go back to the PRI, but he doesn't know who will get his vote.

"No one really knows now what could happen next," he said. "All the candidates are bad. ... There is so much anger toward the government, everyone is against everything."

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Hopefully our south of the US border a.netters could shed some light on their thoughts and feelings. The way the article was written it seems like they were almost saying Mexico was a step short of civil war (no the term wasn't used), so I'm just trying to sift through the dirt since I don't hear of too much news from Mexico except for the whole immigration issue.

BTW... no, I really don't think Mexico is on the verge of something as bad as civil war, so that's why I'm asking around for inputs other than that article.
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RE: What's The Deal With The Mexican Elections?

Thu May 18, 2006 11:17 am

The article is full of BS.

If anything, Mexico is having a competitive presidential election between a conservative candidate (Mr. Calderon) and a socialist one (Mr. Lopez). Only an American teaching in Williamsburg, Virginia could really believe that Mr. Madrazo has any fighting chance in this election. I even doubt this so-called Mexican expert has been down here in the recent past. All the political analysts coincide that the PRI's candidate is politically dead.

The truth is that we are in the middle of a ruthless race, full of negative ads, which mirrors a highly polarized society between the left and the right. As a matter of fact, it's the kind of campaign I witnessed many times in the USA but it is new here. The business-friendly Calderon is now leading the polls, but the race remains too close and the populist Lopez is still in good position to win it in the end. BTW, Mr. Lopez is a Chavez wannabe, ready to be part of the new ax of evil with Castro, Morales and Chavez.

Concerning violence, there is nothing new under the sun, at least in Mexico's reality. I don't see anything even close to the alarmist tone of the article.
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