Nearly 1 million protest Mexico election


Richard Moore

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Nearly 1 million protest Mexico election

Demonstrators pack Mexico City in show of support for leftist candidate

The Associated Press

Updated: 2:43 p.m. ET July 16, 2006

MEXICO CITY - Hundreds of thousands of protesters marched through the Mexican 
capital on Sunday to demand a manual recount in the disputed presidential 
election, led by a leftist candidate who says fraud cost him the presidency.

As a precaution, the Roman Catholic Church canceled Mass at the city¹s downtown 
cathedral as supporters of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador began to overwhelm the 
central plaza to the sound of firecrackers and bands. Police officials in the 
pro-Lopez Obrador city government estimated the crowd at 900,000.

Conservative candidate Felipe Calderon, of President Vicente Fox¹s National 
Action Party, won by about 244,000 votes in the official count after the July 2 

Lopez Obrador¹s Democratic Revolution Party has appealed to the federal 
electoral court to overturn the official count, alleging illicit government and 
corporate help for Calderon, ballot stuffing and other irregularities. The 
former Mexico City mayor says he will stop the protests only if there is a 
ballot-by-ballot recount.

National Action has also filed its own challenges, seeking to stretch Calderon¹s
tiny vote advantage. Calderon has said he believes is no legal basis for a 
complete recount, and has called on Lopez Obrador to respect official vote 

ŒPrepared to fight with ideas¹

Lopez Obrador supporters such as Xochitl Luna compared the situation to the 
fraud-stained 1988 election lost by leftist candidate Cuauhtemoc Cardenas and 
said they were ready for a long struggle.

³We could be here six more years,² said the 43-year-old unemployed secretary, 
referring to the presidential term.

³In 1988 we were ready to take up sticks and stones,² she said. ³Today we are 
prepared to fight with ideas.²

Marchers carried banners that proclaimed ³No To Fraud!² as well as pictures of 
Calderon with a slash and the slogan: ³It won¹t happen.²

Fox ended the Institutional Revolutionary Party¹s 71 year stranglehold on the 
presidency in the 2000 election. Mexico¹s constitution limits presidents to one 
six-year term and he leaves office Dec. 1.

Top Lopez Obrador adviser Ricardo Monreal said the July 2 election means that 
Mexico¹s fledging democracy is already faltering.

³If another abuse, another (electoral) theft is confirmed,² he said, ³Mexico 
will never have clean elections again.²

A Œmarvelous man¹

Some of Lopez Obrador¹s devoted followers have lit votive candles outside his 
campaign headquarters.

³He is the most marvelous man in the world,² said Eugenia Leal, a 70-year-old 
retired school teacher who collects a pension thanks to a city program 
instituted by Lopez Obrador. ³I¹m willing to follow him from here to the death, 
or wherever he orders.²

The dispute threatens to further divide Mexico along geographic and class lines.
Lopez Obrador won in the mainly poor southern states, while Calderon swept most 
of the more-affluent north and northwest.

Lopez Obrador may never recognize Calderon as a legitimate president, setting up
six years of sparring and protests that could threaten Mexico¹s political and 
economic stability.

The stock market and currency have swung widely in recent weeks as investors 
weigh the outcome of the dispute.

Calderon is building a transition team and planning a nationwide victory tour, 
even though his victory isn¹t official until the elections court issues a final 
decree by Sept. 6.

School teacher Ezequiel Torres, 53, said Lopez Obrador ³represents hope.²

³The right is capable of calling the army into the streets against the public,² 
he said. ³The people are tired, fed up, beaten by all that has been done by 
globalization governments. We want to undo everything that Fox has done.²

© 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be 
published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


© 2006

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