Mexico's coup against leftist leader threats institutional stability

Conservative lawmakers stripped progressive Mexico City Mayor from his immunity in an attempt to block his road to presidency

The conservative coup that stripped leftist Mexico City Mayor Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador from his immunity to make him face a trial for a minor crime may undermine country's institutional stability, according to analysts and even spokesmen from financial markets. On Thursday, lawmakers from the ruling National Autonomy Party, or PAN, and the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, voted against Lopez Obrador, Mexico's most popular politician, to block his road to presidency, which could turn campaigning for 2006 elections into chaos.

Hundreds of thousands of Mexicans filled city's main square, El Zocalo, in a massive demonstration of support to the leftist leader, who called on peaceful civil resistance to Congress' ignominious decision. Now, Lopez Obrador, who is the clear favourite to win the polls, plans to give himself up soon and go to jail, as country's legislation states that the indicted is guilty until the contrary is not probed.

If that happens, Lopez Obrador will not be allowed to run for presidency and millions of Mexicans will be deprived of their right to elect their candidate because of an accusation he ignored a court order in a dispute to open a street next to a hospital. "The moment I receive that request, I am going to turn myself in at the jail," the mayor told reporters at his house. Lopez Obrador vowed to head his campaign from jail.

According to observers, the case is likely to cause months of political turmoil in Mexico, a major oil exporter and big U.S. trade partner. Even voices from Wall Street warned on the disastrous consequences of an eventual block to Lopez Obrador.

The mayor's leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution, or PRD, will likely organize mass street rallies, disrupt Congress and foment conflict between the federal government and local authorities it controls. The PRD had won 1988 presidential elections, but the then ruling PRI aborted the transition and illegally proclaimed its candidate.

The decision adopted by the Mexican conservative forces, with President Vicente Fox at the head, is a serious setback for country's civil and political life. It turns country's clock back to the times of PRI's 71-year one party rule. Fox, who took office in 2000 as the champion of freedom and change will leave his post as a mere continuant of the illegal procedures to block the rule of democracy in country slashed by poverty and stagnation.

The case also makes clear the level of tolerance of the Mexican elites, which risk country's institutional stability to block the road to presidency of a moderate center-left politician with strong popular support. Leaders like Lopez Obrador rule in Madrid, Berlin, Brasilia and Buenos Aires, but are not listed as radical or revolutionaries. Why not in Mexico?

On the photo: Mexico's Citiy Mayor, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador  

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Author`s name Olga Savka