Monday, August 14, 2006

All posts were moved (11/2006) to

Baby, you can drive my car... or scenes from the class stuggle

John Ross write elegantly (as always) in Class War Amid Mexico City's Gridlock(
The car wars here are a codeword for class war. Poor people scrape by on public transportation: tens of thousands of effluvia-spewing tin can microbuses complimented by a clean, low-priced and over-saturated subway system, the Metro. But the first car is often the first step up the class ladder and lower middle class Mexicans spend a lot of time in their vehicles... ...when on Sunday July 30, before 2.4 million followers, Lopez Obrador encouraged his disenchanted supporters to establish 47 camps, many of them strung along one of the city's most elegant boulevards in a move to impress upon a seven-judge panel the historical importance of ruling in favor of a vote by vote recount, Mexico City's motorist class and the media that panders to it, rose up as one fist in mass indignation. ... Car ownership is one of the great divides between Lopez Obrador's base, "los de abajo"--those from down below--and his right-wing rival Felipe Calderon to whom the Federal Electoral Institute (IFE) has awarded a much-questioned 243,000 vote "victory" in the July 2 balloting. While Lopez Obrador summons millions to the great central Zocalo plaza on foot, Calderon's PAN party's most emblematic mode of mobilization is the motorcade in which the right-wingers climb into their gleaming chariots and drive around, mindlessly beating on their horns in syncopation.
As to those pedestrians themselves...
The encampment in the Centro under a contiguous awning to fend off the incessant rain is kind of a carnival tunnel of love. Folk dancers from the Yucatan step smartly on a makeshift stage, a raucous ska band tootles on another. The booths are staffed by petitioners and political cartoons festoon the pup tents. Notes to AMLO scrawled in magic marker on rain-curled colored paper are hung on clotheslines: "Gracias Senor for existing--the Carrasco Family" and "Ya No Nos Dejan a Chingar!" (Now we are not going to let them screw us over!) Pedestrians line up for free popcorn distributed by the banda from Tepito, a tough inner city neighborhood. There are puppetry classes, chess players. "The sexual rights workshop will follow the domino tournament," someone on a bullhorn advises.
The Mexican people are famous for their patience, but even THEY have their limits

AMLO walks a tightrope between his own defiance and trying to keep a lid on his steamed-up supporters. He often quotes Gandhi at his rallies and the film of the same name is being shown in the encampments. He counsels his people to keep "a hot heart but a cold head" and non-violence training is in the works. Hundreds of volunteer musicians have been enlisted to soothe the savage breast of the people but after the TRIFE's decision came down and a group of musicos launched into a "rola", the angry mob just told them to shut up and go home.


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