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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: La gauche mexicaine proche de la victoire

by Francoise Escarpit

The Mexican left nears victory

Translated by John O’Neil

Translated Friday 7 July 2006, by John O’Neil

Mexico, special correspondent

“If I had a sister who was a single mother, I would vote for Péjé because he restored dignity to both single mothers and their children by helping them. (Note: Péjé pronounced “payjay” - a nickname for both Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and the lizardfish native to the rivers in the Tabasco region) If I had a son old enough to go to college, I would vote for Péjé because he created quality university centers for the young people. But I have neither a sister nor a son. I have, however, an elderly mother who for six years has received public assistance almost equal to the minimum wage [110 euros] which allows her to support herself. And me, I have been a taxi driver for fifteen years and I have seen developments that were talked about for thirty years come to pass during his term as mayor." Without mentioning the hospitals in each district where patients are well received and cared for at little cost, even if they have to get up early to wait in line! "Finally, it’s because of all this that I will vote for AMLO tomorrow.”

Mexico City’s Mayor kept his promises

This taxi-driver’s strange and meandering monologue reflects the sentiment of many people, above all the most ordinary people who think that if as Mexico City’s mayor Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador could keep his promises in a five year term, most notably that of working for "those at the bottom", there is no reason that he would not do that as the head of state.

According to Proceso magazine, a survey taken by intellectuals and known artists also gave a vote clearly in favor of the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) candidate. It must be said that Felipe Calderón, the very conservative National Action Party (PAN) candidate has loftily ignored anything that resembles culture during his campaign.

In 2000 however, some of the academic and cultural elite had chosen to vote for Vicente Fox, in the name of the useful vote, to expel the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) who had held the presidency and the power for seventy years. They quickly understood their error and for six years had put away their hopes that are resurfacing today. A few days ago, Vicente Fox was explaining that he had learned much from his six years in office: “Before, I used to say “Chapas” and now I say “Chiapas” (sic).”

Voting for the lesser of all evils

Sunday, the Mexicans chose between two plans for their country. Between that of the PAN, with a government of CEOs who would like to quickly do all that Vicente Fox could not and did not know how to do during his term: to pursue the “transexennal” project drawn out at the beginning of the 1980s during Miguel de la Madrid’s presidency and implemented by Carlos Salinas de Gortari who expected to continue privatizing everything he could from energy to education and to sign on to both the US promoted North American Free Trade Agreement and the Free Trade Area of the Americas.

The assessment of the “president of change”, as Vicente Fox was called , is negative overall : a GDP increase of barely 1.8%, the failure of his tax policy, 50 to 70% of Mexicans living in poverty, the widening gap between rich and poor, and all this in spite of the high price of oil which has not fallen during his entire term.

In opposition, Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador’s plan for the nation, though less specific catalogues good intentions, full of goodwill, national without being nationalistic, making jobs, integrity, transparency, justice and dialogue the centerpieces of his policy, promoting education and health for all, especially the poorest.

A project in progress.

Burned by prior experiences, the Mexicans will not give AMLO a blank check. A little like sub-commander Marcos said, they voted Sunday for the candidate who they thought would do the least damage, but with great hope for change.

Toward a national alliance?

At the end of the campaign meeting on Wednesday, Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador affirmed that he would maintain the same course with the objective of getting Mexico out of crisis and helping the poorest. For this, if he is elected he will meet with the CEOs, religious institutions, civil society, Indians, farmers, workers, managers and intellectuals in order to form a working national alliance.

“We will enter history,” he exclaimed in conclusion, after having underscored that, Sunday, it is more for a different national plan than for a man that the voters will express their intentions.

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