Wednesday, April 06, 2005

South of the border

A drive to oust Mexico City's leftist mayor from the 2006 presidential race drove Wall Street and local investors to sell stocks, bonds and pesos on Tuesday in fear of a full-blown political crisis.

With hundreds of thousands of protesters expected to crowd into Mexico City's main Zocalo square on Thursday, economists believe the turmoil could lead businesses to halt investments, taking the steam out of an economy that has been solid.

Congress is expected to vote on Thursday on whether to strip Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of his legal immunity so he will have to face contempt of court charges. If found guilty, the popular mayor could be banned from running for president.

Lopez Obrador has a clear lead in opinion polls and angrily dismisses the charges as a clumsy, politically motivated attempt to remove him from the race by President Vicente Fox and business leaders who fear his populist policies.


The mayor has insisted the protests will be peaceful, but some investors still worry that prolonged protests and the mere threat of violence will act as a drag on the economy.

"I have rarely been as concerned as I am today regarding the course of political events unfolding in Mexico," Gray Newman, head Latin America economist for Morgan Stanley, wrote in a report.


Some analysts even envision an extreme scenario resembling recent popular uprisings seen around the world.

"Similar events occurred in the Ukraine, Lebanon and Kyrgyzstan, when powerful political forces tried to derail the candidacy of a very popular candidate," said Walter Molano, an economist for BCP Securities in Connecticut.

  Alternet article

Yes, and I can only wonder how the Bushistas will react if the popular uprising in Mexico puts AMLO in the driver's seat. Will Butthead be spouting praises for democracy in Mexico as he is for democracy in the Ukraine? Highly unlikely, since in Mexico's case, AMLO is a populist leftist threatening to replace Butthead's buddy Vicente Fox.
The mayor has promised to overhaul Mexico's free-market economic policies if elected, frightening some Wall Street investors who say his populist tendencies resemble those of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

But despite their misgivings about his politics, some observers say the worst-case scenario would be if he is forbidden from running.

"What happens when a political establishment tries to poison its Yushchenko? Exile its Dalai Lama? Jail its Lech Walesa? The reality is, he comes back stronger. That's what's about to happen in Mexico. Be warned," said an article on The American Thinker, a conservative U.S. Web log.
James Wolcott comments:
I look forward to more frequent blogging because it's shaping up as an interesting spring in the "May you live in interesting times" sense. Forces are stirring, the newly born leaves are flickering messages. The rebuff to Italy's Berlusconi (Bush's pal) in the regional elections this weekend. The sinking poll numbers for Tony Blair's Labour Party and the latest slide for Bush in the CNN/Gallup survey. The desperate, brazen attempt to block Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador from running for president of Mexico against Vincente Fox, which will almost certainly spark social upheaval and widespread demonstrations. The ratcheting up of rhetoric against Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, who's being lumped with Fidel Castro as the two tropical Saddams by Bush hardliners. And the looming oil crisis which threats to--well, go read this and prepare to shiver.

Our political system has failed us, our media have failed us, and neither have any inkling of the Wagnerian drama about to unfold.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are moderated. There may be some delay before your comment is published. It all depends on how much time M has in the day. But please comment!