Mexico Protests Show No Sign of Ending

Mexico Protests Show No Sign of Ending

MEXICO CITY -- The unfavorable results of last month's Mexican election and allegations of fraud so angered Jesus Alberto Nito Tellez that he left his wholesale business in the central Mexican city of Celaya three weeks ago and drove to the heart of Mexico City, where he pitched a tent in a protest camp organized by disgruntled presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who narrowly lost the presidential race. How long Nito Tellez stays depends on how soon he and his colleagues from a left-leaning coalition, dubbed "For the good of all" and headed by the Democratic Revolution Party (PRD), receive what they want: A vote-by-vote recount.

Blockading Mexico City's central square (known as the Zocalo) and grand Paseo de la Reforma boulevard marked an escalation in Lopez Obrador's pressure campaign to force a recount and ultimately overturn the July 2 election results. To the chagrin of his opponents, virtually all of whom have accepted the initial outcome. he's assailed the Federal Electoral Institute (IFE), President Vicente Fox -- a staunch foe -- and the nation's elite for supposedly orchestrating an "old-fashioned fraud." Additionally -- and somewhat bizarrely -- he's accused some of his own party's polling station observers of lacking integrity, alleged businesses planted subliminal messages in pre-election advertising and declared himself "president" in several television interviews despite falling short in the initial count by some 244,000 votes.

But by calling for protests -- something vote-count winner Felipe Calderon of the governing National Action Party (PAN) labeled "Blackmail" -- Lopez Obrador revived his old tactic of beckoning supporters to the streets whenever he encounters opposition. He previously led marches from his native Tabasco state to Mexico City and shut down Pemex oil facilities to protest a scandal-plagued governor's race in 1994, among other cases. Supportive mobs regularly showed up outside city hall when he served as Mexico City mayor.

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