Revolt in Oaxaca May Force Calderon
to Wage an Income-Gap Fight
By Patrick Harrington
Friday 03 November 2006
Mexico's next president, Felipe Calderon, will inherit an old battle over wealth and poverty that may force him to spend more on the country's southern poor than he had anticipated.
A five-month revolt by thousands of teachers and free-trade opponents in Oaxaca state is a replay of conflicts between the central government and the poor that have erupted several times since the 1980s. The protesters' demands range from the resignation of the state governor and imposition of a socialist system to better pay for farmers.
President Vicente Fox sent more than 4,500 federal police into Oaxaca City Oct. 29 to restore order. The rebellion will ensure that Calderon, who takes office Dec. 1, spends more money on narrowing the income gap between Mexico's North and South, said Jorge Chabat, a political science professor at the Center for Economic Research and Teaching in Mexico City.
"The challenge for Calderon is not just in Oaxaca but in all of Mexico's southern states, where there is very little distribution of wealth and inequality is much greater than in the North," Chabat said. "The federal government is going to have to intervene if they don't want to see movements like the one in Oaxaca in several states."
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