Iraq and Mexico

Riverbend posted this link to an apparently Italian indy-media-ish website called Bellaciao, where you can see the enormous demonstration in Baghdad yesterday that was completely blacked out in international media. The photos of Firdow Square, where the Saddam statue was pulled down, two years ago and now, tell the story.

I get The Economist instead of a daily newspaper (which I peruse in 5 minutes on-line… in any case there is very little local news in our horrible ‘local’ newspaper, the S.F. Chronicle). Of course The Economist is a right-wing rag, but it does give actual news from various places in the world every week. It’s terribly aggravating to read their stuff on Bush and the U.S. though. I can only glance at it. This week there’s an absurd piece about how well Condi Rice and Bush are doing at winning back the Europeans to the U.S. project of democratizing the world! What a pathetic joke. Quite a contrast to the biweekly columns from Immanuel Wallerstein which I subscribe to. He’s good on following developments that point in a radically different direction than the U.S.-centric fantasies of the right-wing media. Either in his column, or on some other blog or news site, I’ve recently seen a lot about how various countries are proceeding independently to set up trade and diplomatic connections that simply go around the dying U.S. elephant, too stupid to see the mess it’s making. (Examples include the regular meetings between France, Germany and Russia, something that the U.S. strived to avoid for all the post-WWII era; China and Russia engaged in joint military exercises; China signing deals with Venezuela, Iran, Brazil for oil and other raw materials; etc.)

Meanwhile, back in the ol’ Uncle Sam backyard, which bizarrely is actually a sovereign country (!) called Mexico, the ruling president Vicente “Coca-Cola” Fox has pulled a deal with the former ruling one-party statists of the PRI, called a “Desafuero”. This means that through a parliamentary vote they’ve stripped the leading presidential candidate for 2006, the left-populist mayor of Mexico City, Lopez Obrador, of his immunity. That in turn means he can be tried over the paving of a road to a hospital that violated some minor court order, and thereby criminalizing him and making it illegal for him to run for President.

Narco News has been following this story for a while. Lopez Obrador appeared in the Zocalo in Mexico City the same day he was stripped of immunity to a crowd of over 300,000. A grassroots mobilization is already underway, and it’s difficult to imagine that the ham-handed efforts of the ruling elite to prevent Obrador from running will do anything but fuel his popularity. The unfolding pre-emptory coup d’etat is described here, and it’s worth bookmarking Narco News (if you haven’t already) for ongoing coverage of this story, plus the goings-on through Latin America (esp. Bolivia and Haiti).

We were in Mexico City in January 04 and heard a lot about Obrador while we were there. They were building a peripheral double-decked freeway, a classic example of concrete-pouring populism and patronage. This ridiculous idea has made Obrador very popular with Mexico City residents who imagine that building more freeways will alleviate traffic in some way! There are the folks at Bicitekas who understand the absurdity of that, and they’re out on their bicycles engaged in the heroic, sisphyean task of pushing against it. It’s also interesting to note that Lopez Obrador, and his likely opponent from the PRI, Roberto Madrazo, both hail from the chief oil-producing state of Mexico, Tabasco. Some years ago Lopez Obrador participated in mass demonstrations of oil workers and campesinos against the petrochemical destruction of lands down there. I wonder, if elected, how he would reconcile his populist pro-growth agenda with his older knowledge of the actual ecological results of such agendas?

Anyway, so many stories unfolding all around us, but you’d think the whole world was only interested in a dead Polish pope or a pre-dead wedding of aging british aristocrats… Hell there’s even a baseball season starting!

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