The “National Day of Action on Immigrant Rights” mobilizes a wide array of marchers in cities across the United States. Hoping the enormity of their numbers will strike a chord of fear, protestors brazenly demand citizen’s rights be granted to illegals. The media dance to their drumbeat while ignoring a precarious situation smoldering in Mexico.
While focus continues on synchronized national marches and outrageous demands of those who have entered the United States illegally, scant attention is being paid to the potentially disastrous July 2, 2006 Mexican elections.
Vicente Fox, the current President of Mexico, is concluding his constitutionally limited 6-year term. Although relations with him have been rocky, as he provides instructional brochures for his countrymen to safely navigate the border into the United States in violation of our laws, there are significant reasons for anxiety regarding his successor.
Fox’s 2000 victory marked the first time in over 70 years that the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) suffered defeat. Fox, representing the National Action Party (PAN) won with 43 percent of the vote in an election which gained praise as the most open in Mexico’s history.
The leading contender to replace Fox is former Mexico City mayor, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, 53. Hailing from the desperately impoverished state of Tabasco, López Obrador, is a polarizing figure. Considered by some as heroic for instituting massive urban welfare programs in the capital city, others view him warily. Detractors describe him as a flamboyant demagogue, warning of worsening economic instability as his myriad socialist-style programs raise the city’s debt past sustainable levels. Charges of mishandling public funds and ignoring legalities abound. His carefully crafted image as the defender of the downtrodden belies his penchant for arrogant grandstanding. López Obrador’s leftist political emergence was greatly influenced by the then-ruling PRI until he broke with them in 1989 to form the rival Democratic Revolutionary Party.
Most alarming are López Obrador’s ties with Marxist Hugo Chavez, Venezuelan President. Chavez’s notorious anti-American diatribes have attracted a steady stream of left-leaning radicals to his side, condemning US policies. He has publicly denounced President Bush, using incendiary rhetoric in hours-long, profanity-laced speeches. Both López Obrador and Chavez have successfully marshaled street rallies of hundreds of thousands of menacing demonstrators of their largely poor and uneducated populace to attain desired goals.
(Similarly, marches taking place in cities across America under-gird massive and well orchestrated Democrat voter registration drives.)
But it is Chavez’s repeated threats to block US access to Venezuelan oil resources which potentially hold profound consequences. Venezuela is the United States fourth largest oil provider. If Chavez is able to expand his ties with Mexico, our second largest crude oil supplier, the results have the potential to devastate the US economy. López Obrador is increasingly seen as a Mexico’s counterpart to Chavez. This is significant in a country with a population fast approaching 108 million people.
Chavez, an admirer of Cuba’s Fidel Castro, has expressed his own desires to be “president for life.” In an impassioned two-and-a-half hour speech before his country’s assembly, he demanded a new constitution and an extension of the five-year single presidential term, including provisions for reelection of incumbents. Powers to dissolve the Supreme Court, Congress and even the presidency were also on the agenda. Chavez’s former personal pilot, Air Force Major Juan Diaz Castillo, has alleged the anti-American Chavez supplied al Qaeda substantial sums of money following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
Chavez’s recent threats to expel US Ambassador to Caracas, William Brownfield, signal further deterioration of ties between the United States and Venezuela. Ambassador Brownfield was chased by demonstrators on motorbikes and pelted with eggs and tomatoes after Chavez ludicrously accused him of provoking protests. Erosions in that tenuous relationship have the potential to trigger instability with Mexico if López Obrador is the victor in July’s elections.
Assertions that virulent American-hater Chavez is attempting to influence the Mexican elections alarm those in that country’s business community. Although links between the two are denied by both sides, monitoring the upcoming election south of our border becomes central to our own security and economic stability.
Profile: Carol Turoff is a former two-term member of the Commission on Appellate Court Appointments. During her eight years on the commission, she participated in the selection of four of the five current Arizona Supreme Court Justices as well as 17 judges on both Division I and II of the Arizona Court of Appeals. Appointed by two governors, Turoff served with three chairing Supreme Court Justices.