Friday, June 01, 2007

Mexico City: The PAN and the PRI are watching with glee.

I've been out all day and just got back to check on things in the DF. For those of you who may not know, Mexico City is a federal district, much like Washington, DC. The city is commonly referred to as "the DF" so as to avoid confusion with the names of both the state of Mexico as well as the country itself.

The city's authorities are claiming that the marches, blockades and street battles that took place throughout the day all went off with a "saldo blanco" or a "clean slate". In other words, nobody got kilt.

The striking teachers are now threatening to shut down museums and archeological zones.
We will not hesitate to close the museums and archeological zones when this strike explodes nationwide."
Pedro Hernández, Sección 9, CNTE
The object of all of this unrest is the reformed ISSSTE law, the principal objection to which is the extension of the retirement age for government employees from 55 to 63 years of age. This change is to take place on a one year per year basis so it won't fully be in effect for another 8 years. The reform was necessary to avoid bankrupting the ISSSTE pension system (do I hear Ford, GM, Chrysler?). The reform was passed with the PAN of President Felipe Calderon joined by the PRI of, well, nobody of any note. The PRD of AMLO objected vociferously, albeit unsuccessfully.

When anything really unpopular happens on a national scale, and that means almost anything unpopular because the federal government controls just about everything here, Mexico City gets whacked by the protests, marches, riots, burnings and beatings. One would think that the PAN and the PRI would have realized this and hesitated before passing such an unpopular law.

And they no doubt did hesitate . . . for about 1.5 seconds. The Mexico City government is a PRD government. It has been since Cuauhtemoc Cardenas was the city's first elected mayor. All previous city administrations had been appointed by the PRI controlled federal government, so you know how that went . . . badly . . . for decades. When the city government became such a thorn in the side of the the PRI under Ernesto Zedillo and then the PAN under Fox and now Calderon, the federal legislature with the PRI and the PAN voting together are making sure that the PRD city administration gets its just deserts.

When AMLO was mayor in December of 2000, he got so fed up with it that this populist, man-of-the-white-socks-and-Blue-Ribbon-beer-working stiff issued his infamous Proclamation 13, which stated that he had the utmost respect fot the constitutional right to protest against the evil federal government, just not in his f***ing streets. The proclamation, called Bando Número Trece, said;
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.
Now, even one of the big shooters in the PRD, Jesús Ortega, is calling for a limit to "violent protests" against the ISSSTE law. He claims that people who might otherwise be sympathetic to the protesters' cause are being turned off by 6 hour commutes to travel 10 blocks through clouds of tear gas and whistling missiles, every damned day.

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Cross posted at Pale Horse Galleries

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