The recent presidential elections in Mexico brought back a ton of memories for me. In case you’re not up to date with your Mexican current events, Enrique Pena Nieto of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) was declared the official winner. Leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador came in second but he and his party have disputed the results claiming that the PRI engaged in vote-buying that illegally swayed millions of votes. Flash backwards six years and it’s like deja vu. Obrador also ran in the 2006 presidential elections and came in second. He claimed then that there widespread irregularities in the vote and demanded that every single vote be recounted. Even after there was a partial recount done at controversial polling stations showing Obrador to be the second place winner, he and his supporters never conceded defeat. They staged mass protests throughout the country and on November 20, Mexican Revolution Day, Obrador’s supporters proclaimed him the “legitimate president” at a rally at the Zocalo in Mexico City. While he “earned” a salary of around $5000 USD a month (provided by donations), his presidency was purely symbolic and had no legal force.
Even after Obrador was proclaimed the legitimate president in November 2006, his protestors were still staging rallies. In the fall of 2007 I had been living in Cuernavaca, Mexico where I was working as a volunteer at an orphanage. One weekend in November I traveled to Mexico City with a fellow volunteer to see the Mexican pop group Rebelde perform at the Palacio de los Deportes. The concert wasn’t until the evening so my friend was going to show me around as he had been to the DF (the Federal District-Distrito Federal) a couple of times before. Upon emerging from the top of the steps at the Zocalo metro stop, I saw nothing but half-naked bodies for as far as the eye could see. The womens’ chests were bare and both men and women were covering their frontal private areas with nothing but a cut out image of the face of Felipe Calderon, the man who was declared the victor in 2006; the back was “thong” style. There were drums being beaten and with many of the protestors wearing indigenous headdress, it almost resembled a scene from a movie about the Aztecs. While the spectacle was initially intimidating since I had heard that earlier protests had turned violent, this one seemed peaceful and a clear example of civil resistance. Coming from a culture in which public nakedness is for the most part frowned upon (and illegal too), this was completely shocking for me to see.
Almost five years later I’ve never forgotten that experience and now with Obrador being in the same role as before, I wonder if more naked protests are in store.
How about you-ever witness any “out there” spectacles? If so do share!
P.S. No I did not take any photos of the protestors. I just did not want to be “that” kind of tourist.