25 October 2006

The Fox legacy: avoiding conflict

If this narrative seems old, it is. President Vicente Fox cancelled the annual Nov. 20 sports parade due to the potential for conflict with backers of election runner-up Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who will be coronated "legitimate president of Mexico" on the same day. The cancellation follows Fox fleeing the capital for Dolores Hidalgo back in September, when a potential confrontation with protesters in the Zocalo hastened his departure.

The decision is puzzling and once again shows Fox's dreadful political instincts. Lopez Obrador's PRD just lost the gubernatorial race in Tabasco - Lopez Obraodor's home state. The party's governors recently pledged to recognize Calderon as president - not Lopez Obrador. Lopez Obrador squandered much of his political capital - at least in the short term - with his boisterous attacks on the country's institutions and six-week shutdown of central Mexico City. And now Fox, instead of taking advantage, holes himself up in Los Pinos and cedes the public square once again to Lopez Obrador, quickening a weakened movement.

Fox vacates Los Pinos in less than six weeks and despite assertions to the contrary, he'll leave a festering conflict in Oaxaca and Lopez Obrador's antics for Felipe Calderon to deal with. The president's refusal to address pressing issues in Mexico will, no doubt, go down as his real legacy.

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