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Mexico City's mayor Lopez Obrador stripped of immunity
by GNN (reposted)
Friday Apr 8th, 2005 11:04 PM
Mexico’s “democratic” history is marked by years and years of rule by the PRI, who finally lost the presidency to Vicente Fox. Fox made few, if any, substantial changes in Mexico, and is well loved by the U.S. administration.

A leftist president in Mexico, while unlikely to affect any truly revolutionary change, could help other “progressive” leaders find the will needed to stand up to the U.S., the World Bank, the IMF.

You can be certain that Mexican congresspeople were pressured by American diplomats to do whatever is in their power to keep this popular candidate from running.
Mexico's Congress has begun a process that could disqualify Mexico City's "populist" mayor, the leading presidential candidate

Hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the streets here yesterday as Mexico’s Congress voted to begin a process that could disqualify Mexico City’s mayor, the leading presidential candidate, from the 2006 presidential race.

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, standard bearer of the left-leaning Democratic Revolutionary Party, is accused of violating a judge’s order in 2001 to stop construction of a road on contested private land leading to a hospital. Congress voted by a wide margin to strip him of immunity in the case, which Mexican law grants to high-ranking officials. If indicted, Mr. Lopez Obrador would be barred from seeking the presidency.

The vote was held despite fears that disqualifying the popular mayor would lead to months of social and economic unrest. Opinion polls show most Mexicans oppose the effort against Mr. Lopez Obrador, and many believe the case against the mayor, who officially declared his intent to run yesterday, is a pretext to rid the 2006 presidential campaign of its most popular candidate.

The Tabasco-born Mr. Lopez Obrador has been a highly polarizing figure since he was elected in 2000. He is beloved by many working-class Mexicans for his social programs, which include a monthly grant of about $60 (U.S.) for all residents of Mexico City over the age of 70.

But he is feared among some in the upper class, who worry that, if elected president, Mr. Lopez Obrador would follow the path of controversial Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

Mexican President Vicente Fox, who is constitutionally prohibited from seeking re-election, has repeatedly warned of the dangers of ``messianic’’ and ``populist’’ messages.

At a morning rally for the mayor, an estimated 340,000 supporters crammed Mexico City’s zocalo , or main square, waving flags and chanting, ``You are not alone.’’ One banner read, ``They are killing our young democracy.’’

Liliana Mendoza, a 31-year-old youth counsellor, said she was incredulous that the mayor could be barred for such a relatively minor incident, given the incidents of corruption that have gone unpunished in Mexico.

``All of that happens and now they’re going after him?’’ she asked. ``This is a historic moment. We want something to change in Mexico.’’

The mayor’s opponents have insisted they are merely applying the letter of the law and say Mr. Lopez Obrador flouted a judge’s order to stop construction for nearly a year.

Mr. Lopez Obrador delivered a blistering speech before the vote of Mexico’s lower house of Congress, saying Mr. Fox is obsessed with ousting him from the race and that his enemies ``fear that the people will opt for a true change – a cowardly fear.’’

Political analyst Jose Antonio Crespo said the effort to oust Mr. Lopez Obrador has dark echoes of Mexico’s authoritarian past, when the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, used almost every trick in the book to retain power.

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