Thursday, August 03, 2006

Mexico City: AMLO and his famous Bando Número Trece

No, Bando Número Trece is not a rock band that AMLO performs for. A bando is an "edict", or in this sense, an executive order. As you are no doubt well aware, he is the losing presidential election candidate who insists he didn't lose. He's leading a mega tent city sit-in in downtown Mexico City that has created an nightmare throughout the city.

In 2000, Andrés Manuel López Obrador was the mayor of Mexico City. He, as with many of his predecessors, had undergone an unending parade of street protests in the city. In Mexico, if one wants to assure that one's complaints are heard, one gathers up as many supporters as possible, then walks, rides a bicycle or rides a bus to Mexico City and interferes with traffic for awhile. This had its place at one time and may still have its place from time to time. The state's governors ran their states like private fiefdoms for decades, ala Oaxaca. If one had the temerity to protest on one's home ground, one was likely to get shot. That would be less likely to occur in Mexico City in front of foreign journalists.

As mayor of the city, AMLO got fed up with it.

In December of 2000 he issued Bando Número Trece (Executive Order No. 13) which decreed that he would no longer tolerate the interference with traffic and the city's commerce. Here, from the Mexico city government's own website, is Bando Número Trece. It's in Spanish, but I will copy and translate the critical passages:

Que es relevante la polémica acerca de las causas y efectos de las marchas, mítines, plantones y bloqueos que se realizan en el Distrito Federal.

Que es nuestro deber conciliar el derecho constitucional a la libertad de expresión con el de libre tránsito.

Que son graves de por sí los problemas de vialidad por causas estructurales y por la magnitud de la ciudad.

En este marco damos a conocer los siguientes lineamientos de política:

1, g) No permitiremos el bloqueo de avenidas o vialidades primarias que desquicien el tráfico, eleven la contaminación y afecten el libre tránsito de terceros.

Translation: I make it known to the citizens of the federal district (Mexico City):
That the subject of the marches, riots, sit-ins and blockades is critical.
That it is our duty to conciliate between free expression and free transit.
That we have enough serious transportation problems due to structural problems and the vastness of the city.

In this framework, we are announcing the following policy.

1, g) We will not permit the blockading of streets and primary traffic arteries which snarl traffic, increase contamination and interfere with the free transit of other people.
"Except when I want to," he failed to add.

The reason that Bando No. 13 hasn't been enforced is that the current Mexico City government is a PRD government, the same political party as AMLO. In fact, both the current mayor and the newly elected mayor owe their jobs to AMLO.

In a press conference today, the city's district attorney, Bernardo Bátiz, claimed no knowledge of any problems being caused by the sit-in. When challenged by reporters who wondered if he hadn't seen all the photos and videos from the downtown area as well as read about the anger being directed towards AMLO and his occupiers, Bátiz said that no, he hadn`t seen or read anything. But he couldn't keep a straight face after he lied through his teeth.

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