Police Barricades are Up; Shock Troops and Attack Dogs in Place; Obrador Supporters Ready to March
UPDATE! Pro-Obrador Legislators Have Prevented Fox From Speaking! Details below...
By Winter Patriot on 9/1/2006, 1:36pm PT  

Guest blogged by Winter Patriot

The time has come for Mexican President Vincente Fox to deliver his State of the Nation speech, but he may not be able to reach the Congress!

The American media seem to have noticed this story all of a sudden --- because of the threat of large-scale violence?

Here's AP reporter Julie Watson at SFGate.com:
Protesters Threaten to Stop Fox Speech

Riot police, attack dogs and towering steel barriers sealed off Mexico's congress for miles in every direction Friday as protesters threatened to stop President Vicente Fox from delivering his state-of-the-nation address.
Leftist presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has called on his supporters to gather in Mexico City's main plaza before the congressional session for a rally that some fear could turn a mostly peaceful civil resistance movement violent.

Lopez Obrador — who portrays himself as a champion of the poor — blames dirty tricks by the president for an official count showing him 0.6 percent behind the business-friendly National Action candidate, Felipe Calderon.

Thousands of protesters are occupying the capital's center with tent camps draped in banners calling Fox a "traitor to democracy." They are expected to march on Congress after Lopez Obrador's appearance.

They likely won't get far. Authorities have surrounded Congress for up to 10 blocks with multiple layers of steel barriers; attack dogs in cages, ready to be released; and riot police in full protective gear. Entire neighborhoods were sealed off, preventing the city's sprawling markets from opening, and nearby subway stations were shut down.
Both sides have exchanged angry warnings.

"Security teams better not touch a hair on the heads of our comrades and fellow lawmakers," warned Gerardo Fernandez, a spokesman for Lopez Obrador's Democratic Revolution Party. Ruling party lawmakers countered that they'll take action if anyone tries to attack the president.

Lopez Obrador and his supporters have already decided to create a parallel government that will rule from the streets.

"The people are the government!" he told cheering supporters on Thursday.

From Duncan Kennedy at the BBC:
Mexico tense ahead of key speech

Hundreds of riot police have surrounded Mexico's Congress building ahead of a speech from the outgoing President, Vicente Fox.

They are on guard against thousands of supporters of the left-wing candidate, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
In steel-capped shoes, body armour and helmets, the security forces make an intimidating sight around the heart of Mexico's democratic institutions.

Without the right credentials, you now cannot get within a kilometre [5/8 of a mile] of the main congressional building.

From Stephen Lendman, at IndyMedia UK:

It began on May 15 this year when teachers belonging to the 70,000 strong National Union of Education Workers in Oaxaca, Mexico took to the streets for the first time to press their demands to the state government to address their long-neglected needs. They included restructuring teachers' salaries, improving the deplorable educational infrastructure forcing teachers to conduct classes in laminated cardboard shacks, a lack of books and other educational materials and providing food for the many impoverished children who come to school each day hungry.
June 2, things began to intensify as thousands of other working people and representatives from Oaxacan organizations joined in solidarity with the teachers to march against the state government and Governor Ruiz Ortiz. They repeated it again on June 7 in another huge peaceful march numbering about 120,000 in which student and parents' groups, other union members, and representatives from socialist and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from Oaxaca and other states joined with the teachers to help them press their demands. So far everything was peaceful, as in the past, but all that changed on June 14 when state police entered the compound where the teachers were camping. They had riot shields, fired tear gas at the people there, and were aided by an overhead police helicopter that also dropped tear gas canisters on the crowds that by now were raging. The police also destroyed or burned nearly all the encampment shelters and disabled Radio Planton that had been broadcasting information to the people from the main square since the demonstration began.

Fast forward to the present --- and to Mexico City:

There's no way to know for sure what will happen next, but this may be a watershed moment in Mexico's history. The long-entrenched institutions of power in the country are being challenged as never before. Since the Trife, as most expected, failed to address the overwhelming fraud and election theft, there likely will be civil resistance in the streets in opposition that potentially could become a mass uprising over the coming weeks. If this happens, it could threaten to unseat the federal authorities in the capitol and lead to mass violence and bloodshed as they attempt to restore order. With that in mind, it's been rumored that a contingent of US Special Forces has been sent to help the Mexican military guard the country's oil fields in case of trouble. Mexico's Pemex state oil company produces about 3 million barrels of oil a day and ships about half of it to the US, thus making Mexico one of this country's leading oil suppliers.

[T]he Congress in Mexico City is surrounded by 6 and one-half foot high grilled metal barriers. Behind them are 3,000 special shock troops who are Federal Preventive Police (PFP), a force drawn from the Mexican Army and members of the elite Estado Mayor or Presidential military command. They form a Praetorian Guard line of defense armed with tear gas launchers, water cannons and light tanks assigned to protect the institutions of power against a rebellion that might threaten to storm the legislative Chamber of Deputies, Senate or the Palacio Nacional (the National Palace seat of the federal executive in Mexico).

Given the constant mass demonstrations in the Mexico City streets, this force is certain to be on high alert, can easily be reinforced if needed, and is now ready to act if civil resistance turns to disobedience or rebellion in the aftermath of the final Trife ruling that now looks to be a mere formality. Blood in the streets is nothing new to Mexico, and it may be seen there again as tensions now are very high and not likely to subside soon. Lopez Obrador said if the Trife formally declares Felipe Calderon the election winner he will lead a civil resistance movement in opposition and do it by setting up some kind of parallel government. If he follows through and keeps his word, the battle lines will be clearly drawn in a struggle ahead that likely will be turbulent, protracted and uncertain as to how it will end.

And finally, some videos from Oaxaca, where the current turmoil began:

oaxaca, conflicto magisterial


Desalojo En Oaxaca

Oaxaca, fotos desalojo.


Here's an UPDATE from Reuters:
Mexico leftists block Fox speech to Congress

Mexican President Vicente Fox was forced to abandon his last state of the nation address to Congress on Friday after leftist lawmakers alleging election fraud seized the podium and refused to let him speak.

Shortly before Fox was due to give his speech, dozens of legislators marched up to the podium, some with banners calling the president a traitor to democracy.

Fox, who leaves office in December, did not try to approach the podium and instead gave a copy of the speech to Congress officials.

It was the first time in Mexican history that opposition legislators have blocked the president's annual speech and marked an escalation of a crisis that has rocked the country since the bitterly contested July 2 presidential election.

You can read the rest of the Reuters article here.