21 May 2010

More strange political bedfellows

In 2006, Flavio Sosa led an uprising of groups agitating under the banner of the Oaxaca People's Assembly (APPO) that called for the head of Gov. Ulises Ruiz - who made a botched attempt at removing striking teachers from the central square of the state capital, Oaxaca city. The ensuing conflict shut down the capital for months and ruined the state's tourism economy.

In 2009, Sosa tops a list of Labor Party (PT) candidates seeking the seats in the state legislature distributed through a proportional representation system known as the "plurinominal."

The PT is participating in a coalition of opposition parties - along with the PAN, PRD and Convergence - that united to oust Ruiz and the PRI in the July 5 gubernatorial elections.

Sosa's placement at the top of the PT plurinominal list almost guarantees his arrival in the state legislature - a long way from the street protests of three years ago and the prison cell he subsequently occupied while waiting for charges against him to be dismissed. (He was never convicted of any crimes from the 2006 uprising.)

It would also put him in a caucus with the PAN, a party which many leftists believe rigged the 2006 federal election and which has helped keep Ruiz in power - a condition demanded by the PRI for its allowing President Felipe Calderón to take the oath of office in a divided Congress.

But such is the dislike for Ruiz among all the opposition forces in Oaxaca that they backed Convergence candidate Gabino Cue for the 2009 election. Even the small, left-wing PT, which withdrew from coalitions in other states such as Hidalgo at the behest of 2006 election runner-up López Obrador, has backed the coalition - although López Obrador, who has been running roughshod over much of the PT in recent years, has not endorsed the Cue's candidacy.

Polls show a tight race in Oaxaca - closer than most of the other states contesting gubernatorial elections on July 5. A Reforma poll put the race between Cue and PRI candidate Eviel Pérez in a statistical tie.

Sosa wasn't the only plurinominal candidate in Oaxaca to raise attention, however. The PAN list of plurinominal candidates included Eufrosina Cruz Mendoza, who made news in 2007 for unsuccessfully trying to run for the mayor's office in the municipality of Santa María Quiegolani.

The mostly indigenous Zapotec municipality is governed using something known as "usos y costumbres" (local customs) - something common in much of rural Oaxaca - which were invoked to prevent her participation in the last election due to her gender and, according to Cruz, her professional status.

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