Greetings From Mexistan
By Harold Meyerson
Wednesday, April 13, 2005; Page A17
It may be just about the most inspiring sight imaginable: hundreds of thousands of people gathered in the main square of some capital city, demanding democratic self-rule. “They’re doing it in many different corners of the world,” Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said last week, “places as varied as Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan and, on the other hand, Lebanon, and rumblings in other parts of the world as well. And so this is a hopeful time.”
It is a process in which the United States claims more than an observer’s role. The business of America, says President Bush, is spreading democracy. “The leaders of governments with long habits of control need to know: To serve your people, you must learn to trust them,” Bush said in his inaugural address this January. “Start on this journey of progress and justice and America will walk at your side.”
Unless, of course, you’re Mexican.
Apparently, there are several kinds of capital city rallies. There are those in Kiev, where multitudes turned out to protest the subversion of a national election and the attempted murder of the opposition leader. There are those in Beirut, where people gathered to protest the murder of an opposition leader and to demand self-determination. These were outpourings that our government encouraged.
And there was the one last Thursday in Mexico City, where 300,000 protesters filled the Zocalo, the great plaza in the middle of the city, to show their outrage over the decision of their Chamber of Deputies to keep that nation’s opposition leader from running for president next year.
The government had not murdered the opposition leader, Mexico City Mayor Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador; it merely proposed to imprison him – and thereby disqualify him for the presidency – because someone in his city government disregarded a court order to stop construction of a short access road leading to a hospital, over land that was acquired by Lopez Obrador’s predecessor but whose ownership was still in dispute.
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