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Cablegate: Zocalo Rally Shows Amlo's Continued Strength --

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102374
2007-03-28 23:31:00
07MEXICO1581
Embassy Mexico
CONFIDENTIAL
07MEXICO6569
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TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6181
INFO RUEHXC/ALL US CONSULATES IN MEXICO COLLECTIVE
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TAGS: PGOV PREL PINR MX
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MEXICO 001581

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/27/2017
TAGS: PGOV PREL PINR MX
SUBJECT: ZOCALO RALLY SHOWS AMLO'S CONTINUED STRENGTH --
AND SCARES THE LEFT
REF: A. MEXICO 6569

B. MEXICO 5318

Classified By: Political Minister Counselor Charles V. Barclay, Reasons
: 1.4(B/D).

1. (SBU) Summary: Until the March 25 closing rally in Mexico
City's central square or "Zocalo," many political analysts
and observers, including many PRDistas, were writing off
Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador's (AMLO) 2nd National Democratic
Convention (NDC) as an utter failure. Although AMLO managed
to attract a few thousand supporters to the NDC's inaugural
event on March 21, the NDC's activities/events in the days
that followed were designed to give shape and substance to
AMLO's opposition movement, were poorly attended and scarcely
covered in the press. Its closing ceremony, however, scored
a major internal PRD victory for AMLO as he once again nearly
filled the Zocalo. The rally's turnout exceeded general
expectations and served as a reminder that AMLO remains a
dominant -- and potentially divisive -- figure on Mexico's
left. End Summary.

NDC Opens Quietly...
--------------------

2. (U) On March 21, failed 2006 PRD presidential candidate
(and self-proclaimed "legitimate" president) AMLO kicked off
his 2nd National Democratic Convention (NDC) at a park in
downtown Mexico City addressing approximately 3,000 people.
He vowed to continue his struggle to change the country in a
non-violent manner. He said that the NDC aimed to protect
the masses (pueblo) and defend Mexico's national patrimony
(i.e., oil reserves), urging his supporters to participate in
the NDC's meetings and activities which were to conclude with
a mass rally in the Zocalo on March 25.

3. (C) On March 22nd and 23rd, six NDC working groups met to
discuss various political, economic, and social issues. The
working group meetings received little media coverage. In
conversations with poloff Raul de la Paz and Mary Carmen
Soria, two well-connected PRD members, were highly critical
of the working groups, complaining that they were poorly
organized and attended and that nothing productive came out
of them.

...But Concludes on a High Note
--------------------------------

4. (U) After a recess on March 24, the NDC concluded on March
25 with throngs of AMLO supporters marching down Mexico
City's main avenue and gathering in the city's central square
or "Zocalo" to listen to AMLO raise and denounce the spectre
of PEMEX privatization, call for shifting Mexico's tax burden
from workers to business, rail against rising prices and urge
that NAFTA be renegotiated. Overall participation in the
concluding rally is unclear and neither local officials nor
the press put a figure on crowd size. Poloff, present at the
event, agrees with the general estimate that while turnout
was significantly smaller than at AMLO's last two
post-election rallies (see reftels) it was nevertheless
impressive.

PRD Reaction to NDC
-------------------

5. (C) The large turnout in the Zocalo surprised many
PRDistas, given the low-profile, poorly attended events of
the previous days. Both Soria and de la Paz told poloff that
many in the party were shocked with the turnout at the rally,
given that little overt effort was put into organizing the
event. Moreover, although Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard
shared the stage behind AMLO, this is the first major AMLO
post-election rally where city government (GDF) coordination
and resources were absent, according to sources. (Note: See
reftels which note the use of GDF funds to support AMLO's
post-election activities.)

6. (C) Soria noted that AMLO's rival factions in the PRD,
mainly the New Left or "Los Chuchos (named after faction
leader Jesus "Chucho" Ortega)," did nothing to support the
NDC and were secretly hoping for a lower turnout that would
underscore AMLO's political demise. Instead, turnout was
greater than expected, and leading newspapers described the

MEXICO 00001581 002 OF 002


event as indicative of his continued leadership of the PRD
and the left. De la Paz said the March 25 rally worried the
Chuchos, who were gambling against the convention's success.
Many leftist luminaries shared the dais with AMLO on Sunday,
but the only Chucho leader visibly present was PRD Senate
coordinator Carlos Navarrete. Ortega himself was no where to
be seen, and all five PRD governors -- all affiliated with
the party's moderate factions -- were also absent.

Lessons Learned?
----------------

7. (C) When asked what AMLO's continued ability to turn out
the masses means for the party, de la Paz -- who does not
align himself with any particular PRD faction -- said it
reflected a strong possibility of a permanent PRD fracture
and the emergence of a new party. He explained that AMLO and
his cronies already had the means and structure in place to
create a new party. Since September, the NDC has collected
information -- using NDC-delegate registration forms -- on
over a million supporters country-wide. He said that if AMLO
ever decided to form a break-away party, he would use this
contact list to recruit members. He said whether or not AMLO
goes this route depends on what happens at the PRD's
extraordinary Congress in August. AMLO hopes to consolidate
his position within the party through the election of a key
supporter, former Mexico City mayor Alejandro Encinas, as the
PRD president. If the election does not go AMLO's way, he
may decide to start a new party, asserted de la Paz, who
estimated he could take as many as half of PRD adherents with
him.

9. (C) Soria, previously skeptical of the significance of
internal party fissures, did not dismiss this possibility
when she met with poloff's shortly after the Sunday meeting.
She described the current PRD as a "marriage of convenience."
However, she said, neither AMLO nor his PRD opponents are
ready at this point to divorce and split the assets. Soria
agreed that August's party congress would be an important
turning point.

What's Next for AMLO?
---------------------

10. (C) The NDC agreed to meet again on November 20,
overriding calls by some of AMLO's supporters for rallies on
July 2 (the anniversary of the 2006 presidential elections)
and September 16 (Independence Day). AMLO unveiled few
follow-on activities between now and then beyond a series of
unspecified encounters and tours, including a trip to the
U.S. According to PRD federal deputy Cuauhtemoc Sandoval,
AMLO will travel to Los Angeles, Chicago, and Texas May 1-5
to speak at universities and participate in conferences. He
will also meet with migrant workers and various Mexican
leaders. Soria and de la Paz confirmed AMLO's planned travel
to the U.S.

Comment
-------

11. (C) Sunday's rally showed that AMLO is far from cold to
the touch. He pulled a respectable crowd and moved from
venting about the July 2 elections to hot button issues as
privatization, inflation and pension reform. Still, by
putting off the next big NDC event for many months, AMLO
disappointed those who had hoped he would unveil a grand
strategy to derail Calderon's agenda, (which received a boost
this week from the Senate passage of a pension reform
package). And rather than galvanize Mexico's left, the event
demonstrated he still wields enough power and support to
divide it. End comment.


Visit Mexico City's Classified Web Site at
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/wha/mexicocity
BASSETT

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