Friday, May 05, 2006

the battle of San Mateo Atenco

Not making much news north of the border was this week's skirmish about 10 miles north of Mexico City. A radical farmers' movement has had deteriorating relations with the Edo Mex state police. Subcomandante Marcos visited San Mateo Atenco during the previous week and may have stirred a few coals. As with most cases of civil disobedience, whether it was a rebellion, an uprising, an insurgency or a riot depends upon your point of view. The police came in and made some arrests, encountered some resistance, beat some of those who were apprehended, then the locals took several police hostage. I am less interested in who did what to who when and how (but here is a link to a more in depth story.

I am more interested in the impact of this kind of disturbance on the July 2 election. To the extent that such events are seen as unfortunate and rare occurrances, they should have no impact on the election. However, if one side is seen as unjust, unreasonable, or excessive, the other extreme may benefit.

For example, if the police are seen as unjust, then that makes the police, state authorities, federal authorities, President Fox, and by extension, PAN candidate Calderon, look bad. From Duran to Fox to Mendoza to Juan Rodolfo, PANistas have staked out the mano dura strategy. When the police looks bad, the PANistas look bad.

If the local rebels are seen as excessive, that could do more than make the local leaders look bad, and also Marcos who (although he was safely in Mexico City when the trouble started) has connected himself with this movement, and possibly anyone who advocates for the poor (e.g., AMLO). This may be the supreme irony, that Marcos runs around the country criticizing Lopez Obrador, but the only way he can really hurt him is to make himself look bad by discrediting all leftist movements.


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