Sat Sep 2nd, 2006 at 10:18:37 AM EST
By law, Mexican President Vicente Fox had been due to give a valedictory state-of-the-nation address to Congress before he steps down later this year. But, there were rumors that Andrés Manuel López Obrador and his supporters were going to stop Fox from giving his address. Regardless, Fox had vowed nothing was going to stop him from giving his speech tonight.
To ensure that nothing would go wrong and disrupt Fox from giving his speech, President Fox deployed 6,000 federal riot officers and soldiers to seal off the Mexican Congress and metro stations with miles of steel fence. Riot officers were equipped with water cannons. However, this did not stop protesters from massing a few blocks away.
At the last minute, López Obrador did the right thing by backing down and refusing to give into Fox's bait and confront the riot policing allowing Fox and the PAN to seize on the opportunity to exploit any clashes between the police and protesters to justify Fox's brutal repression.
"We are not going to fall into any trap, we are not going to fall into any provocation," he told the crowd, which had waited through a rainstorm to hear him speak. "Only those who are not in the right resort to force and violence, and we are in the right."
Although the AMLO and his supporters backed down, legislators from AMLO's party, the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), protested inside the chamber of deputies. Moments before President Fox was scheduled to deliver his speech, 126 PRD deputies stormed the stage. Several waved Mexican flags and carried placards calling Mr. Fox "a traitor to democracy."
President Fox waited backstage wearing his presidential sash, before congress officials from his party, he National Action Party (PAN), informed him it would be impossible for him to speak. Fox handed them the written copy of his speech and stated he was leaving without trying to deliver the address. In the end, the defeated outgoing President was forced to address the nation on television from the presidential residence.
To make matters worse for Fox and the his party, it will be the first time in modern Mexican history that a president failed to deliver the annual speech at the Congress.
Tonight was definitely a major victory for Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the PRD, and their supporters. Viva La Huelga!