AMLO Speech - "We Are Going To Defend Democracy"
Mexico: We Are Going To Defend Democracy With Actions
Speech by Andrés Manuel López Obrador, Mexico City, July 30th 2006
Translation by Tlaxcala
Friends, I thank you with all my heart for the effort you have again made to come from all the regions of Mexico to this third information assembly. To all of you men and women of good will my sincere thanks. Many thanks.
I want to thank you all especially because we met our target, our commitment : we said we were going to double our turnout and we did.
We are meeting here once again, free citizens of every class and social condition, Mexican women and men of every colour, age, race and language that people our great nation. There are indigenous peoples, industrial workers, rural workers, business people, members of the middle classes, employees, professional people, artists, intellectuals, traders, students, teachers, doctors, nurses, university teachers. All the representatives of our people. I particularly want to stress the presence of many low-income people, many poor people who are fundamental to our country and to our movement : they are my greatest mark of pride as a person and as a leader.
There are whole families here, older people, young people and children; together just the same, forming one single collective will in defence of democracy. We are all united, showing through action that we want a just, free, democratic, diverse, plural country. We are here because we want a new economy, a new way of doing politics, a new social co-existence, more human and more equal.
We are here because we want a different homeland, a new homeland.
We are here to seal our commitment with history. We are living moments of definition in Mexico. The fate of our people is at stake. It is not merely a matter of the Presidency of the Republic, but the right of citizens to elect their rulers freely and democratically. These days are deciding whether we install a true democracy in Mexico once and for all, or whether a regime of virtual democracy is installed where at the end of the day priviliged people are always going to continue deciding the nation's destiny.
In 2000, many people thought we had taken a firm step toward the consolidation of democracy, but everything failed, everything turned out to be a farce and Fox (1) was not up to the challenge.
It is worth remembering that in another historic moment of democratic transition, Francisco I. Madero (2) said to a US journalist in 1911, "On acceding to power I am going to set down two principles, one of them, already sanctioned by the Constitution and which depends on me to be complied with, is the the principle of no re-election. The other is effective voting. To achieve the second it is necessary to reform the electoral law and this depends mainly on the people. But I am going to make myself the principal guardian of that popular prerogative and I will consider my main duty to be facilitating the free expression of the popular will with the aim that the laws be a genuine expression of that will. In a word, I am going to be the main friend and defender of the people's freedoms. Given the historic moments through which Mexico is passing I think everything else is secondary."
That's what the Apostle of Democracy said. This was the lesson that Vicente Fox never understood. Instead of being the protector of effective voting, he turned into a traitor to democracy.
That is why the theme of democracy has again become a central matter in the political agenda of our country and a fundamental concern of its citizens.
Let's bear in mind that democracy is not just the best system of government that humanity has found : it is also the most effective method of guaranteeing coexistence in condtions of harmony. Democracy generates checks and balances, it promotes dignity and avoids that one person or a few people, whether from the higher or lower echelons of the social scale, behave as absolute owners of public power.
But it is not only that. In a country like ours with so much privilege and so much inequality, democracy acquires another basic social dimension, it turns into a matter of survival. Democracy is the only option, the only hope for millions of impoverished people, the majority of people, to improve their standards of living and their conditions of work.
If the democratic channels are shut off, only submission or violence remain. That is why we have to defend democracy and make it prevail. Furthermore, we cannot forget that many Mexicans have sacrificed themselves for this cause, even losing their lives.
That is why we are here, to show our rejection of the electoral fraud that seeks to falsify the result of the citizens' will expressed via the ballot box on July 2nd.
From the beginning we have had signs of our triumph and now 28 days after the election we have absolute certainty, all the elements and evidence to prove, without hesitation, that we won the Presidency of the Republic.
As we have already said, despite the fact that the whole electoral process was plagued with irregularitites and acts of fraud we must all feel proud , women and men, because they could not beat us in the vote and that is why they refuse to open the electoral packets and do the count again, vote by vote and box by box.
The most decisive proof that we won the presidential election lies in the attitude of rejection that the candidate of the Right has adopted when faced with the demand for a recount of all the votes. If he argues that he won he has no reason not to clear up any doubt and clean up the election. Who owes nothing, fears nothing.....
Transparency is not much to ask, a count, vote by vote, box by box. It is not much to ask that there be a recount. That is what is going to calm the country, that is what is going to contribute to social peace, political, economic and financial stability, that is what is going to leave every one of us satisfied. No democrat can reject transparency : transparency is the golden rule of democracy. And if there are so many doubts and if there is uncertainty, why refuse to count the votes? We have said and I repeat it here in the main meeting place, the political heart of our country : we stand by the recount, we are going to accept the result, that is our guarantee, that is what we are giving as collateral and we are people of our word. We are never going to accept an election at the State's convenience and I am never going to accept that this election was clean, free, equitable, because it would be to betray myself. But I have indeed put it to the candidate of the Right that if he declares himself in favour of a recount then I am going to accept the result and I am going to cease calling for citizen mobilization
That is the commitment that I have been making, so that they have no fear of democracy. I repeat, if he says he won what is he afraid of? Let there be transparency, let there be a recount vote by vote, that is what we are proposing.
And I repeat too, Mexico, our great country, does not deserve to be governed - and we are not going to allow it - Mexico our great country does not deserved to be governed by a spurious president, a president without legitimacy with neither moral nor political authority.
Now we are waiting for the electoral tribunal to take the decision to clean up the election and make it transparent, by ordering a count of all the votes. That is, I insist, the rational sensible solution : that is the legal and political solution most suitable for Mexico and for democracy. Although we also know that the tribunal's members are subject to strong pressures from the powerful people of always who think thay are the lords and masters of Mexico. Here it is worth clarifying : it is not that we do not respect the institutions. It is that, unfortunately, in our country we do not have a tradition which ensures that the men who control the institutions act correctly and rightly.
Let's not forget that appearances have always won out. Historically, the Constitution and the laws have only been honoured in appearance and been abused in fact.
In Mexico, unfortunately, the law has commonly meant the opposite of its ostensible purpose, although a state of law is always invoked, instead of protecting the weak, those charged with imparting justice only serve to legalize looting and abuse by the strong. The law that has prevailed has been that of money and power above everything else.
That is why, although we do not discount that the tribunal's magistrates may behave like free men and women and have the moral stature, fearlessness and patriotism that the moment demands, although we expect responsible and patriotic behaviour from the magistrates, all the same, we are not going to hope for the best and sit on our hands.
Furthermore we have many lessons, many examples in our history. Let's not forget that everything achieved in our country in terms of freedoms, justice and democracy has been won by the struggle of the people. Nothing or almost nothing has been a gracious concession of power. We became an independent country not because the Spanish Crown decided so but through the popular struggle led by Hidalgo and by Morelos. (3)
The Reform was carried out not through the will of the Conservatives but through the convictions and tenacity of the Liberals. And whatever social justice that has been won resulted from the Mexican Revolution and the struggle of Madero, Villa, Zapata and many, many more anonymous heroes. That is why we ought not to think democracy will be made to prevail from above. This will only be possible with the effort and mobilisation of the citizenry. One does not plead for democracy, one fights for it, as with justice and freedom.
That is why today I propose to you that, mobilised, ready, with pride and with integrity, we await the judgement of the tribunal.
Before making you a precise proposal I want to insist that the cause we are defending is fundamental. I want to tell you that this goes beyond the recognition of my victory as president of the Republic. It is important to recognize my victory as president of the republic but the fundamental thing is that there be democracy in our country.
I repeat, I am not some vulgar opportunist. Money is no motive with me and I have always argued that power only makes sense and becomes virtuous when it is placed at the service of others. I fight for principles, for ideals, which are what I most value in my life, not for public posts, even when one is dealing with the most important post in the country. And that is precisely why, that is precisely why I argue that right now above all else the main priority is to save democracy.
To those who disagree with us, to our adversaries who did not vote for us, I offer a sincere apology for the inconveniences our movement may cause. I hope that one day they will understand us, understand that this struggle is necessary not just for ourselves but for everyone, because only in democracy will we live in harmony and will Mexico be a country with dignity, recognised as such.
Friends, listen then to what I am going to say, I want a sincere reply from you that we think about it even if only for a moment, I propose to you that we stay here in permanent assembly until the tribunal makes up its mind. I propose to you that we stay here, that we stay here day and night until the votes are counted and we have a president elected with the basic legality that we Mexicans deserve.
I assure you our effort and our sacrifice will not be in vain. If we decide to stay here we will organize ourselves like this.
Here in the Zocalo will stay those who come from the country's 31 states and along the Madero, Juarez and the Paseo de la Reforma down to the Petroleo fountain people from the 16 Delegations of the Federal District will set themselves up.
To make that clear again. Here in the Zocalo we will organize 31 camps, one for each state and there will be 16 more, one for each DF delegation from the Zocalo to the Petroleo fountain.
We are talking of 47 camps. Each camp will have a coordinating group made up of senators and elected deputies, elected heads of Delegations, leaders of the coalition parties, that is to say the PRD, the PT and the Convergencia from all the states and delegations. And each camp will have a representative from the citizen networks.
It is proposed the Cuauhtemoc Delegation will be in the street from Madero to Motolinia. The Venustiano Carranza Delegation from the corner of Madero and Motolinia as far as the Central Axis. Iztacalco on the the Avenida Juarez from the Central Axis to Revillagigedo. Iztapalapa also on the Avenida Juarez from Revillagigedo to the Reforma. Benito Juarez from Reforma and Bucareli up to Donato Guerra. The Gustavo A. Madero Delegation on Reforma from Donato Guerra to Insurgentes. Tlahuac from Reforma and Insurgentes to Niza. From Coyoacan from the Palma roundabout to the Angel. Miguel Hidalgo from the Angel to the Diana Cazadora roundabout. Alvaro Obregon from the Diana Cazadora to Lieja. Magdalena Contreras from Lieja to the Museum of Modern Art. Tlhuac from the Museum of Modern Art to the main gate of Bosque de Chapultepec. Milpa Alta's delegation from the entrance to the Lake to the entrance to the Zoologico. Xochimilco from the gate of the Zoologico to the screen of the National Auditorium. Cuajimalpa from the screen of the Auditorium to Alejandro Dumas. And Azcapotzalco from Alejandro Dumas to the Petroleos fountain.
In all the camps there must be self-discipline, respect and cleanliness. Let's take care of the gardens, the historical monuments. Let's not paint on any public spaces and lets avoid any kind of provocation. All our actions are subject to the idea of peaceful civil resistance within a framework of non-violence. Legally, let's make full use of our right to demonstrate granted us under the Political Constitution of the United States of Mexico.
While we are in permanent assembly, in all the camps and all the public squares from the Zocalo to the Petroleos foundation there will be artistic and cultural activities. I call on intellectuals, artists and cultural workers to organize workshops, exhibitions, poetry readings musical events, chess tournaments, theatre pieces, childrens workshops. With this aim, to advertise daily a cultural agenda
I also call on doctors who support the movement to help us organize health brigades to look after sick people and those in need of special attention.
I tell you that I too will live here while we are in permanent assembly
Friends, I know that what I am proposing to you is not simple or easy but it is what we feel is most fitting for our cause. Once more I ask for your attention because I am going to put this proposal to you for your consideration. I ask you, Shall we stay? Yes or no?
I'll ask again another way. Those who think we should stay, put up your hands.
Those who disagree, raise your hands.
Friends, let's begin organizing the camps then. I have asked some comrades to put up canvas to protect us from the rain, along all the way from the Zocalo to the Petroleos fountain. But we all need to take the initiative and set free our ingenuity and our ability to organize ourselves.
There are indeed going to be general rules of organization and coordination for the camps, but you have the initiative as always. We have to think how to organize ourselves better, take care of ourselves better, how to avoid initimidation, how to keep this whole area clean and how to behave peacefully. I am sure that little by little we will function better and better.
I also make a call for solidarity for the collection of food, medicine, blankets and plastic sheeting for people who need them. From this permanent assembly other actions of peaceful civil resistance will develop that we'ĺl make known and carry out at the appropriate moment.
Let's get to work. Let's defend democracy by our actions.
I know I am not alone. And I repeat, I am not alone because we are all united.
Thank you my friends. let's not say good bye because we are going to be meeting in permanent assembly. Thank you to you all. Thank you with all my heart.
1. Vicente Fox, Mexico's outgoing President.
2. Francisco I. Madero fought the election of 1910 against Porfirio Diaz who stole the election through fraud. Madero escaped to Texas and managed to help organize an insurrection which ended with the Treaties of Ciudad Juarez. In the subsequent elections of 1911, Madero won the presidency. But early in 1913 he was forced to resign during a coup by Victoriano Huerta, who had Madero murdered in February of that year along with his Vice President, Pino Suarez.
3. Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla (1753-1811) and Jose Maria Morelos Pavon (1765-1815) were heroes of Mexico's independence struggle against Spain.
Translated from Spanish into English by toni
solo, a member of Tlaxcala ( www.tlaxcala.es), the
network of translators for linguistic diversity. This