From the archive, originally posted by: [ spectre ]…

Mexico election challenger swears himself in as parallel president
by Holly Manges Jones

Losing leftist presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador
[campaign website, in Spanish; BBC profile] held a ceremony Monday to
establish himself as the “moral” president of Mexico in his latest
attempt to develop a parallel government [JURIST report] for the
country. The defeated candidate is hoping to maintain the support of
Mexico’s poor by proposing tax reforms for the rich and fighting
against business monopolies. Complete with its own cabinet, the
parallel government plans to set up committees throughout the nation
and solicit donations to carry out Lopez Obrador’s proposed reforms
since collecting taxes from Mexican citizens is not a legal option. One
of the first tasks for the parallel government is attempting to stop
the December 1 inauguration of presidential victor Felipe Calderon
[campaign website, in Spanish; BBC profile].

Leftist supporters object to the official results of Mexico’s July 2
presidential election [JURIST news archive] which gave Calderon victory
by a margin of 0.6 percent. Lopez Obrador argued before the Federal
Electoral Tribunal [official website, in Spanish] in late July that the
election was marred by fraud [JURIST report], but the court rejected
most of his challenges [JURIST report] on the grounds that there was no
evidence of systematic fraud. It is uncertain how long Lopez Obrador
will be able to maintain momentum since members of his Democratic
Revolution Party (PRD) [party website, in Spanish] have begun to
disagree with his stance that their seats in Congress should be used to
protest proposals by the legal government rather than try to negotiate
for changes. AP has more.,0,64…

Mexican leftist declares himself ‘president’

Lopez Obrador, who says he was cheated out of victory, holds a ceremony
to declare himself the real leader.

By Héctor Tobar, Times Staff Writer
November 21, 2006

Shadow ‘Leader’

MEXICO CITY – Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the leftist who claims to
have been cheated out of victory in July’s presidential election, took
an “oath of office” Monday as the “legitimate president” of Mexico in
an elaborate ritual his many detractors here ridiculed as a farce.

The ceremony in this capital city came less than two weeks before the
inauguration of the man who officially won the election, conservative
Felipe Calderon. As many as 100,000 people attended the event, in which
Lopez Obrador, the city’s 52-year-old former mayor, also swore in a
six-man, six-woman shadow Cabinet.

“It is an honor to be the legitimate president of Mexico and above all
the leader of free men and women like you,” Lopez Obrador told the
crowd after leftist senator and human rights activist Rosario Ibarra de
Piedra placed a “presidential sash” over his shoulder.

Lopez Obrador has styled himself as the defender of this nation’s
impoverished majority. His self-coronation wasn’t the first time in
Mexico’s tumultuous history that a losing candidate had proclaimed
himself the “legitimate president” (three did so between 1910 and
1940), and it may not augur well for Mexico’s future political

“He is not doing this to make sure that Calderon governs in the name of
the poor. He’s trying to make sure that Calderon can’t govern at all,”
Denise Dresser, a political analyst here, said of Lopez Obrador’s
decision to create a parallel government. “He is leading many Mexicans
to believe that change in this country cannot occur through peaceful

On Sept. 5, after weeks of partial recounts and legal pleadings
alleging fraud, Mexico’s highest electoral court proclaimed Calderon
the winner of the presidential election by 234,000 votes, or 0.56
percentage point.

Calderon did not comment Monday on his rival’s inauguration. The
newspaper Reforma published a poll that found two in three Mexicans
believed Lopez Obrador had “little or no” credibility. But one in five
respondents thought he was right to proclaim himself president.

Lopez Obrador urged his followers not to recognize Calderon’s

“We are congregated here because in the face of the electoral fraud of
July 2, we have decided to abolish the regime of corruption and
privilege,” he said. “We will begin the construction of a new

Monday’s swearing-in took place amid a festive atmosphere in Mexico
City’s central plaza, the Zocalo, with a contingent of invited foreign
dignitaries that included Brazilian community activists and the Cuban
singer Silvio Rodriguez.

Supporters chanted “Presidente!”

“I’m here because I voted for him and because I believe he is the
legitimate president of Mexico,” said Josafat Lagos, 56, an accountant.
“The hope of the people is that he will be a counterbalance to the
abuses and corruption of the powerful.”

On Friday, Ruben Aguilar, spokesman for outgoing President Vicente Fox,
said he did not believe many Mexicans would see Lopez Obrador as the
“legitimate president.”

“The citizens of this country won’t be fooled,” Aguilar said. “This is
a mature society. The people voted … they made their decision.”

Lopez Obrador’s critics in Mexico and abroad denounced his decision to
proclaim himself president as a dangerous farce – the “Republic of
the Ugly Duckling,” some commentators here have called it.

Much of the Mexican media, and many political observers, lambasted the
inauguration as a “caricature” and the desperate act of an egomaniac.

“Lopez Obrador has become a parody of himself, a bad joke,” said Jaime
Sanchez Susarrey, a Guadalajara professor and author. “He’s lost a
great deal of legitimacy, even among his own supporters.”

In an interview published Monday in the daily newspaper La Jornada,
Lopez Obrador said he didn’t care about “the attacks and jokes of the
right,” because he would rule “in the name of the people” against a
“neo-fascist regime that only benefits a privileged minority.”

Calderon, Lopez Obrador said, is “a puppet, a little manager at the
service of the powerful, who will always be rejected by the people.”

Legislators of Lopez Obrador’s leftist Democratic Revolution Party, or
PRD, have promised to prevent Calderon from being inaugurated before a
joint session of Congress on Dec. 1, much as they kept Fox from
delivering his state of the nation address in September.

Calderon has resisted pleas from Fox and others that he take the oath
of office at another location. His attempts to negotiate with
legislators of the PRD have been rebuffed. A showdown in the halls of
Congress appears inevitable.

Lopez Obrador will support his “government” through popular donations.
He said Monday that its main activities would consist of proposing
legislation to Congress and monitoring the actions of the Calderon

Calderon will face numerous challenges to his authority, including
popular movements led by charismatic radicals in the southern states of
Oaxaca and Chiapas. Drug cartels often operate with impunity in border
cities such as Nuevo Laredo and the impoverished southern states of
Guerrero and Michoacan.

“Calderon is going to have to prove, in a short time, that free markets
and liberal democracy still work,” Dresser said. “If he doesn’t, he’s
going to have someone on the streets [Lopez Obrador] pointing out that
they don’t work.”

Mexico’s long history is dotted with parallel Congresses and parallel
presidencies, many of which have arisen in times of social conflict and

In the 20th century, three men called themselves “president-elect” or
“provisional president” after what they said were fraudulent elections:
Francisco I. Madero in 1910, Jose Vasconcelos in 1929 and Alfredo
Almazan in 1940.

Of those, only Madero eventually took office, after issuing the call to
arms on Nov. 20, 1910, that sparked the Mexican Revolution.

After two years in office, Madero was assassinated in a coup d’etat.

Andrés Manuel López Obrador
andresmanuel [at] lopezobrador [dot] org [dot] mx
San Luis Potosí 64 esquina Córdoba, Colonia Roma, Delegación
Cuauhtémoc, México, Distrito Federal, C. P. 06700
Teléfonos: 55 84 72 10 y 55 84 72 49.

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