“Peje el Toro Is Innocent!”
The March of Silence for López Obrador in Mexico City
By Quetzal Belmont
Special to The Narco News Bulletin
April 29, 2005
“Peje el toro is innocent,” one could read on the signs the people carried in support of Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the impeached head of the Mexico City government.
The phrase references the classic Mexican film Pepe el Toro (“Pepe the Bull”), starring Pedro Infante, in which the protagonist is falsely accused and the people come out in his defense. Obrador gets his nickname El Peje from the pejelagarto, a well-known fish from his home state of Tabasco.
The silent march happened on April 24, departing from the Museum of Anthropology and History and culminating in the Zócalo, the capital’s main plaza. Hundreds of thousands of people came out onto the streets to demonstrate their support for the man now seen as the leading presidential candidate for the elections in July 2006.
The diversity of the people and groups that made up the march made it multicolored, but with a definite yellow tint, as the majority of the demonstrators carried something baring the color of Andérs Manuel’s political party, the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD in its Spanish initials).
The peoples’ creativity shined as they carried signs, and wore costumes satirizing national political figures, especially the president of Mexico. A clown could be seen carrying a sign that read, “I was the biggest buffoon in Mexico, but Fox took my place.” A pair of newlyweds decided to join the march as it passed the Angel of Independence, a monument along the route.
One common emblem of the march was to wear a facemask, with a tricolor ribbon in the middle covering the mouth. This ribbon is the symbol of the desafuero. This Sunday, the statues along Reforma Avenue awoke wearing masks, others wearing ribbons.
The groups made up the walk that ended in the heart of the capital. First, the “perredistas,” or PRD supporter; second the “sympathizers,” who agree with López Obrador’s policies; and finally the part of the population that opposes the political actions surrounding the desafuero and the resulting violations of the law, regardless of political tendency.
So as not break with the idea of a “march of silence,” the people spoke in hushed voices – nevertheless, emotion often took over and they raised their voices to shout slogans. This became unavoidable as the marchers entered the many streets surrounding the Zócalo. One example was the resounding chant of the National University (UNAM) fight song, which was chanted back and forth between the different groups coming down the streets.
The Zócalo was filled to capacity; on the adjacent streets there was no room for the people who wanted to reach it. The well-known politician Porfirio Muñoz Ledo, who knows how to jump from one side to the other like a cricket (he has supported various candidates from different parties at different times), was interrupted when he began to speak, and shouted down by people shouting adjectives such as “traitor,” “opportunist,” and the principal cry: “No!” They didn’t want him to speak.
Making a numeric count of the attendance is complicated, and an exact figure is still up in the air. The amounts fall into extremes: on the one hand, the Federal Secretariat of Public Safety spoke of 120,000 people, while others spoke of 1.2 million, so draw your own conclusions…
Later, Andrés Manuel himself – now known as Mr. López, as the president’s spokesman has ordered he be referred to in the media, in order to minimize his celebrity – took the stage.
During his speech the hundreds of thousands of people there applauded him loudly. His words revolved around the problems he is now facing with the desafuero and his status as governor, though one could pick up a tint of electioneering (2006?). He touched on the issues of the economy, the fight against poverty, and resistance to privatizing the electric and oil industries, and others.
The crowd began to scatter after the speech, and one could breath in the air the energy of the thousands of people who had decided to come out into the streets and demonstrate their dissent. Something “similar” happened last June when people flooded the city’s avenues for the “march for safety,” which was overshadowed by partisan origins that dominated the actions of civil society.
After the diverse crowd – children, elderly, students, disabled, intellectuals, and even dogs – left the Zócalo, a large Trojan horse was left in front of the National Palace (Vicente Fox’s headquarters).
Though smaller in scale, support could be seen from many corners of the world: mobilizations in the cities of France, Spain, Canada and the United States were organized to express discontent with the lack of legality in Mexico concerning the case of López Obrador. Mexican residents of other nations raised their voices and their placards.
Now we must look to one of man’s virtues: patience. We will have to wait to see how the events unfold, seeing as how everything in this life, and especially Mexican politics, is like a wheel of fortune, sometimes up and sometimes down, depending on the diverse factors and interests that move the party mafias, and are capable of moving whichever piece on the chessboard in order to reach the king… or to be him.
Quetzal Belmont, a native of Mexico City, participated in the 2004 Narco News School of Authentic Journalism.
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