Well, it looks like it could be about to happen, for real, in Mexico.
Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, convinced he won't be awarded the presidency, has vowed to create a parallel leftist government and is urging Mexicans not to recognize the apparent victory of the ruling party's Felipe Calderon.
... Some predict his parallel initiative — which Lopez Obrador's supporters call the "legitimate government" — could turn those protest camps into the core of a violent revolt, especially if the government tries to shut it down.
There are two reactions here: a) No shit, Sherlock and b) "Some predict?" Boy, I love it when reporters stick their opinions into stories and duck the responsibility by attributing their thoughts to a nebulous "some." Either attribute the sources, call it yourself, or don't say it at all, pal.
Such violence broke out in the southern city of Oaxaca after Gov. Ulises Ruiz sent police to evict striking teachers. Outraged citizens' groups joined the protests, setting fire to buildings and public buses, seizing radio and TV stations and forcing the closure of businesses in a city known throughout the world as a quaint tourist destination.
Did you hear anything about this story? *I* didn't hear anything about this story. Didn't hear about Lopez Obrador's parallel government until a couple days ago, and that's bad enough, but you think the American press might pay a little more attention to RIOTS and POSSIBLE REVOLUTION in OUR IMMEDIATE NEIGHBOR TO THE SOUTH.
"Everything we do, from property taxes to permits to natural resources, will go through the 'legitimate government,'" said Severina Martinez, a school teacher from Oaxaca camped out in a tent in Mexico City's main Zocalo plaza. "We won't have anything to do with the official government."
This isn't as logistically impossible as it sounds. Lopez Obrador is the mayor of Mexico City. It's his power base. He doesn't have to set up his own new bureaucracy overnight to handle taxes, issue permits, and grant mining rights. He just has to co-opt Mexico City's bureaucracy for his own, and use it as the source of his national government. Which, tell me if this sounds silly, would seem to basically amount to Mexico City seceding from the union.
Some supporters took out a newspaper ad Tuesday, calling on Lopez Obrador to set up his own treasury department and said all Mexicans "should channel federal revenues to the new treasury department."
"Some supporters." Riiiiiiiiight. Sure. Supporters.
Scariest bit from the article:
People close to Lopez Obrador say he is assuming the role of his hero, 18th century President Benito Juarez, who led a roving, "unofficial" presidency from 1863 to 1867 during the French invasion, before driving out the invaders and executing the French-installed Emperor Maximilian.
"Juarez ran the government from a carriage and restored the republic," said Rosario Ibarra, a human rights activist who frequently shares the stage with Lopez Obrador at his rallies. "We just hope there won't be any need to shoot anyone."
That's not the sort of thing that human rights activists usually say, is it? Call me crazy, but Ibarra's casual "We just hope there won't be any need to shoot anyone," sounds uncomfortably like "Boyohboyohboy, I just can't WAIT till the shooting starts!" Mexico has some pretty draconian gun laws, which severely limit the right of citizens to possess arms, but I don't think people go speculating about having to shoot people unless they're confident that they'll actually, you know, have guns. Ibarra's saying that Lopez Obrador's side is prepared; the comment is not an earnest hope. It's a threat. And the newspaper ad urging for the parallel government to collect taxes, thus draining revenue from the Mexican government, is no less of one.
The Mexican government is ignoring the protests, for now, but time's running short. If Lopez Obrador sets up an alternative government, that's a direct challenge to governmental authority. The Mexican police have opened fire on demonstrators before, and fairly recently at that. They're willing to shed blood, too.
Our press isn't paying the attention to this that they should. The United States shares one hell of a porous border with a country that could very well be heading into a civil war.
And if you think we've got a lot of Mexicans coming across the border *now...*
UPDATE: Lopez Obrador announces his intention to write a new Mexican constitution. He's planning on officially declaring his parallel government in Mexico City's central plaza on September 16. That's Mexico's Independence Day. It just so happens that the Mexican army has an annual parade on that day, and the route goes right through Lopez Obrador's camp in the central plaza. I see two possibilities: 1) Lopez Obrador is going to try to sway the army, or a subsection of it, to back him. 2) He's going to force a confrontation, and the shooting will officially start.
Mexico's a neat place, and I hear their Independence Day celebrations are pretty fun. If you were thinking of going this year, though, I'd suggest sitting this one out. Unless you're interested in seeing history first-hand, and you're invisible or bullet-proof.