Friday, December 01, 2006

Mexico City: Inauguration Day? Maybe, maybe not

UPDATED: Scroll down for updates.

The Mexican Chamber of Deputies, where Felipe Calderón should be sworn in as Mexico's new president later today, exploded again shortly after 8:00 this morning. The PRD deputies, who have been camped out 24/7 on the steps leading up to the dais, attacked the PAN deputies who have been doing the same on the dais itself. These people have been sleeping and eating and going to the bathrooms in shifts so as not to lose one square centimeter of territory ever since their last riot a few days ago.

There are hundreds of foreign dignitaries in town for the swearing-in ceremony, including heads of state, George Bush, Sr., Arnold Gobernator and assorted Spanish princes. They may get a show they did not expect. The PRD has vowed that Calderón will not be allowed to take the oath while Calderón has said that he will follow established protocol. Be there or be square.

Whether this national embarrassment will continue in front of the president-elect and all the assembled guests remains to be seen. AMLO has arrived at the Zócalo to lead a demonstration against Calderón although he has been keeping publicly mum about the circus taking place inside the Chamber of Deputies.

This morning's set-to is the only thing you can find on the Mexican news channels, or any Mexican channel, as a matter of fact. People are shaking their heads in amazement at what they are seeing and hearing from Mexico City.

Some weeks ago, I posted the opinion of a long time PRD deputy who warned AMLO and his party that their antics were going to cost them their credibility with the people and lead to their political isolation and many future defeats. He seems to have been pretty much on track. A number of polls released erarlier in the week indicated that the PRD and AMLO have sunk in the popularity polls to a position below that of the PRI's loser Madrazo. That would be somewhat akin to John Kerry's popularity falling below that of Ralph Nader. Come to think of it . . . hmmm.

No one knows what is going to occur during the day leading up to the hour of the inauguration but at this point it doesn't look good. With Deputies punching, kicking and spitting on one another in underwear that hasn't been changed for 3 days, outside force may be required to restore order. But the presidential security detail which had been posted inside the chamber for the past two weeks made itself scarce when the fists beagan to fly and is currently nowhere to be seen.

Mercy. What a catastrophe for the country of Mexico. Who is ever going to take these people seriously after stunts like this? One head of state, I think from a South American country, has already called it quits and headed for home. I would imagine that many others are seriously condidering doing the same thing after this morning's free for all.

UPDATE I: The PAN senators have joined the fight! The PRD has been blocking all possible accesses to the Chamber of Deputies. It is being reported now that senators from the PAN have joined their colleagues in the Chamber of Deputies and now have control of the main entrance to the chamber, called the Tras Banderas.

It is also being reported that, if called upon by the Jorge Zermeño, who acts kind of like our Speaker of the House, the presidential security detail from the PFP can go in and restore order. According to Article 211 of the Rules of the Congress of the Union, if Zermeño gives the word, the aisles will be cleared by force. In fact, the PRD tried to block his access to the chamber this morning. I guess they never heard of telephones, semaphores or Morse Code.

You can see what few early photos have come in here. I especially like the one with the guy about to hammer someone with a chair.

UPDATE II The PFP is reported to have now taken control of all 8 entrances to the Chamber of Deputies.

I can't stay with this. I've got to leave on other business but I'll let you know what happens later today.

Oh, and Oaxaca? Hell, it's all peace and quiet here. Safer than the halls of the Mexican Congress.

UPDATE III We have our new president. Felipe Calderón entered the Chamber of Deputies through a rear entrance previously secured by his security detail. He was able to take the oath of office in spite of both whistles and cat calls from his opponents and cheers and shouts from his supporters and put on the presidential sash. The he led the entire chamber in the singing of the Mexican National Anthem, PRD deputies in their dirty underwear accompanying.

Visiting dignitaries who had been invited to the ceremony were wisely told to stay away. Calderón is on his way to the Auditorio Nacional where he will give his inaugural speech. All of the invited guests are being ferried over there. Also on his way there is AMLO at the head of a protest march. I can't find any photos nor even any mention about the size of AMLO's contingent or just what he plans to do when he arrives.

Mark in Mexico, Pale Horse Galleries for gifts, Mexican arts and crafts, alebrijes and collectibles, Felipe Calderón dons the Presidential Sash as the newly sworn in President of Mexico
Felipe Calderón dons the Presidential sash.
That's outgoing President Fox over on the left.

Mark in Mexico, Pale Horse Galleries for gifts, Mexican arts and crafts, alebrijes and collectibles, Felipe Calderón, with outgoing President Vicente Fox standing at his side, taked the oath of office.

Mark in Mexico, Pale Horse Galleries for gifts, Mexican arts and crafts, alebrijes and collectibles, Newly sworn-in President Felipe Calderón waves to supporters in the Mexican Chamber of Deputies.

Please visit the Pale Horse Galleries online store
for art, gifts and collectibles -- all hand made
by Mexican indigenous artists.

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