Some come costumed as clowns and pirates. dangling grotesque marionettes, lopsided home-made heads of Fe-Cal, or pushing a replica of the Trojan Horse ("El Cabellito Trojanito.") They look like they are having fun but their frustrations can well up to the surface in a flash, say when the hated Televisa and TV Azteca appear on the scene. "QUE SE MUERE TELEVISA!" (THAT TELEVISA SHOULD DIE!), the people the color of the earth snarl and scream, pounding fiercely on the television conglomerate's vehicles.
At the July 30th "informative assembly," Lopez Obrador ups the ante considerably in his high stakes poker game to pry open the ballot boxes. Now instead of calling for yet another monster gathering in the Zocalo (4.8 million?), he asks all those who had come from the provinces and the lost cities that line this megalopolis to stay where they sre in permanent assembly until the TRIFE renders a decision. 47 encampments will be convened extending from the great plaza, through the old quarter, all the way to the ring road that circles the capital, snarling Mexico City's already impenetrable traffic, raising the level of greenhouse gases and urban tempers to the point of combustion.
When Lopez Obrador calls for a vote on his proposal, 2,000,000 or so "SI's" soared from the throats of the gargantuan throng, followed by the now obligatory roars of "No Estas Solo" ("you are not alone") and "Voto by Voto, Casilla by Casilla." As if on cue, AMLO's people began assembling the encampments state by state and Mexico City neighborhood by neighborhood.
For a correspondent who once wrote a novel fictionalizing the stealing of the 1988 election ("Tonatiuh's People," Cinco Puntos Press, El Paso, 1999), in which the people the color of the earth march on Mexico City and vote to stay in permanent assembly in the Zocalo, fantasy has turned into the actualities of daily reporting. I am not surprised by this startling turn of events.
When I first arrived here in the old quarter days after the 8.2 earthquake that devastated this capital, the "damnificados" (refugees) were encamped in the streets, demanding relief and replacement housing and liberation from the ruling PRI and their movement from the bottom reinvigorated a civil society that today infuses AMLO's struggle for electoral democracy. This morning, the damnificados of the PAN and the IFE, Calderon and the fat cats, are again living on these same streets.
On the first evening of the taking of Mexico City, AMLO spoke to thousands crowded into the Zocalo in a driving downpour and invoked Gandhi: "first they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they beat you, and then you win." And then Gabino Palomares, a troublemaking troubadour who has been up there on the stage at every watershed event in recent Mexican history from the slaughter of striking students at Tlatelolco (1968) to the Zapatistas' March of the Those the Color of the Earth (2001) took the mic to lead the mob in that old labor anthem, "We Shall Not Be Moved" and AMLO's people thundered back in a roar that drowned out the weeping sky, "NO NOS MOVERAN!"
To be continued.
John Ross's "ZAPATISTAS! Making Another World Possible â€“ Chronicles 2000-2006" will be published by Nation Books this October and Ross is hunting possible venues for presentations. All suggestions will be cheerfully accepted at firstname.lastname@example.org