03 February 2007

January 31, 2007

Flashback: A few weeks ago I wrote about the price increase of corn. I also falsely claimed that nothing was being done about it. On January 31 there was a rather huge march from El Angel de la Independencia to the Zócalo in supposed protest of this economic fluctuation....as if the Mexican government could possibly do anything to change the international market. What it turned into was a leftist parade and a cry to see Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

The march was beautiful; all Mexican marches are.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting It started with this old woman carrying a basket of corn in traditional garb. The protest was a collaboration of several syndicates throughout the country. Many of them genuine campesinos with their wives and children along side. Several were of the middle class. Others the Communist party (a group of idealistic twenty-somethings searching for something they can't even wrap their minds around). Behind the old woman was one syndicate that enclosed itself in a corral made of rope, most of them carrying a flag bearing the symbol of their union.

As we continued to walk, we came across the Sheraton hotel which was blocked off completely by riot police. Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting An utterly intense site in a foreign country. Strangely, after passing these police we saw others guarding several other buildings...all of them without guns. Some carried night sticks, but only a few.

Continuing on, we noticed that several stores were closed; the majority of them American. 7/11 Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting, McDonalds, KFC etc. Mexican shops were open, even jewelry stores.

We got to the Zócalo early so there weren't many people but luckily we were able to get on the Press platform, allowing us to take some pretty awesome pictures. Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
(to see more, click here)

Quickly the crowd stopped listening to the organizers speak and began to shout for Obrador. They called "Presidente" and "Es un honor estar con Obrador" (It's an honor to be with Obrador). The crowd truly believe that AMLO (Obrador) is their legitimate President ever since he declared himself President a while back. One woman wore earrings in the shape of the "president", several carried posters with his face beaming, many sold stickers and patches.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

At the end of the speeches, the organizers announced that AMLO would speak on the side stage. This announcement was made around 6:00. Hundreds of people crowded the stage chanting and singing and telling jokes against the federal government. An hour and a half later, Obrador showed up with his entourage. The whole crowd was vigilantly awaiting, still chanting, and flashing AMLO's signature peace sign (for Victory). Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

His speech was typical of populist leaders. Giving the people what they want; solutions that have no realistic possibility of being carried out. Never in my life have I blindly trusted a public figure as much as these people. At home, I would never wait over an hour to see a politician speak. These people are so desperate for change. They are in so much need for improvement that they allow themselves to be brainwashed by the first new, progressive face that tells them he can make everything better. He can't, he's the absolute opposite of a prudent economist; the perfect example of a modern populist. Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Something that struck me hard (aside from the cult following) was a sign that a little girl sitting on top of her father's shoulders held. The sign read: Now my father doesn't make enough to buy even tortillas. I almost cried. Another sign read "Sin Maiz, no hay Pais": without corn, there is no country. There are many people who believe that the founding of the country is centered around the first corn ever grown here. The exact date isn't known, but it's believed to be somewhere around 3000 BC.
"(This) date has more meaning, because it represents the domestication of the wild grass that later became corn...Three thousand BC also serves as a better date of birth because of the nature of corn, which is the only grain that cannot survive without the aid of a human being, because the husk does not open and the seed does not fall from the ear....Corn transformed society, bringing about what was to become one of the world's original civilizations. Mexico was born" (Shorris, Earl. The Life and Times of Mexico.)


Anonymous said...

OK Ash. I just wanted to leave you a mensaje.

Grampa said...

Hi Ashley, I liked your report on the march. The kitties are great. We are thinking of you.