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Cablegate: Prd Exploits Element of Surprise in On-Going

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RR RUEHCD RUEHGD RUEHHO RUEHMC RUEHNG RUEHNL RUEHRD RUEHRS RUEHTM
DE RUEHME #4490/01 2231638
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 111638Z AUG 06
FM AMEMBASSY MEXICO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2640
INFO RUEHXC/ALL US CONSULATES IN MEXICO COLLECTIVE
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RHMFIUU/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RUEAHLA/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY
RHMFIUU/CDR USNORTHCOM
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MEXICO 004490

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PINR MX
SUBJECT: PRD EXPLOITS ELEMENT OF SURPRISE IN ON-GOING
PROTESTS

REF: A. MEXICO 4292
B. MEXICO 4368
C. MONTEREY 989
D. MEXICO 4311

1. (U) Summary: Following the Electoral Tribunal's (TEPJF)
announcement on August 5 that it would recount 11,839
precincts (9.07 percent of the nationwide total), PRD
Candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) vowed new acts
of civil resistance. After a noisy protest in front of the
TEPJF itself immediately following the decision, the PRD has
begun what appears to be a series of "surprise protests" at
various locations within and near Mexico City. PRD national
spokesman Gerardo Fernandez Norona explained in media
interviews that all protests would remain "peaceful and
legal," but would not identify what future demonstrations
would take place, citing that future actions will continue to
be of a surprise nature. Demonstrators have already carried
out several such "surprise" demonstrations, blocking
entrances to major bank headquarters and the Attorney
General's (PGR) office, as well briefly preventing tolls from
being collected on major highways leading into Mexico City.
This morning, demonstrators have blocked the Secretariat of
Finance and Public Credit (SHCP) as well as the Tax
Administration System headquarters (SAT). While such actions
so far have been limited to Mexico City and its surroundings,
Fernandez claimed that the resistance movement would widen to
a national scale. End Summary.

WHAT WILL THEY BLOCKADE NEXT?
-----------------------------

2. (U) In response to the TEPJF's decision to order only a
partial recount of votes cast in the July 2 presidential
election (ref B), AMLO has vowed new acts of civil
resistance. With Mexico City's central plaza (Zocalo) and
Paseo de la Reforma still occupied by encampments of AMLO
supporters, the PRD has added a new tactic to its repertoire:
surprise demonstrations. Early in the morning on August 8,
commuters to Mexico City were granted free passage on major
tollways leading into the city, as AMLO supporters took
control of toll booths and waved drivers through free of
charge. In an interview with major news outlets on August 9,
PRD national spokesman Norona confirmed that these actions
of "civil resistance" would continue unannounced, but would
remain peaceful. He also claimed that the civil resistance
movement would expand nationwide.

3. (U) Fernandez made this assertion August 9, shortly after
protesters from the Zocalo and Reforma encampments blockaded
the headquarters of three major banks: Banamex, Bancomer, and
HSBC. Poloff visited the blockade of the HSBC headquarters
on Reforma, where approximately 80-100 demonstrators staged a
sit-in in front of the entrances of the building. Police had
lined up between the protesters and the building's entrance
to prevent them from entering, and it appeared that no one
could get into or out of the office complex. Poloff spoke
with some demonstrators, several of whom admitted to be among
those participating in the Reforma encampment. When asked
why they had chosen the HSBC building, one demonstrator
responded, "We are here because investors and bankers like
those from HSBC supported Calderon during the election with
money, and we don't think this should be a country where the
wealthy have such great influence." Some demonstrators held
up a banner that said "Smile-- honorable people pay taxes," a
reference to AMLO's campaign assertion that major
corporations have been cheating on their taxes.

4. (U) Surprise protests did not stop at the banks, however,
as the following day approximately 100 people protested
outside an office of the Federal Preventative Police (PFP)
and about 300 outside the Attorney General's Office. An
earlier surprise protest blocked entrances to Mexico City's
stock exchange for several hours (ref D). An attempt to
block roads to the Mexico City Airport on August 10 was
unsuccessful, however, and AMLO allies disclaimed any
responsibility for that action. Today, AMLO supporters have
blockaded the SHCP and the SAT.


A THIRD TRIP TO THE ZOCALO
---------------------------

5. (U) On August 9, poloffs made their third visit to the

MEXICO 00004490 002 OF 002


Zocalo encampments which, along with those on Reforma, appear
to provide much of the manpower for the recent "surprise"
demonstrations. Compared with our last visit (ref A), camp
residents appeared a little worse for wear, possibly because
of deteriorating hygiene conditions. Clothing and hygiene
products were in many cases strewn across the plaza, and many
wooden platforms had been brought in because of problems with
flooding caused by heavy rainstorms. It appeared to poloffs
that there were fewer people on the plaza than during our
prior visit, with many larger tents completely empty. An
emboff who cycles to work on Reforma observed that there
appear to be far fewer people emerging from the tents in the
mornings than during the first days of the occupation.

6. (U) Compared to previous visits to the Zocalo, it
appeared that more lower-income people were participating;
earlier, poloffs met several academics and professionals
camping there. State camps are continuing to rotate
participants, sometimes on a daily basis. When asked where
the demonstrators were receiving their food, all responded
that it came from donations from people in Mexico City.
State camp leaders continued to assert that they would
maintain a presence until the Tribunal "resolves" the
electoral challenge. In this context, it is useful to note
that logistical support for the encampments remains
well-organized and includes regular food deliveries, hot
meals, summer camp-type classes for children, water trucks,
portable hygiene facilities, etc.

COMMENT: A NATIONAL MOVEMENT?
-----------------------------

7. (SBU) Our visits to the encampments in the Zocalo and on
Reforma and our discussions with analysts and observers
leaves us with the impression that the encampments and
day-to-day protests draw on a dedicated core of perhaps
several thousand people, many of whom have been imported from
other states. While the PRD clearly seeks to expand its
protests nationally, it remains to be seen how successful it
will be. Certainly the PRD's earliest attempts at organizing
protests outside Mexico City -- all in the industrial north
-- have fizzled (ref C), although it's possible the PRD will
find it easier going in those southern states where AMLO's
support is greater.


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

GARZA

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