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ANDERSON & COMPANY COFFEE TEA SPICES TWO JEFFERSON SQUARE AUSTIN, TEXAS.78731 512 453-1533 Send me your list. Name Street City Zip 1 & A tmosphere 0 Special Low Spring & Summer Rates % Available for private parties 41.49 beside the Gulf of Mexico Unique European Chant] i f on Mustang Island d ofte Pets Welcome i c t ‘J’ Port Aransas, TX 78373 1 call for I? serrations a VTIP “rallamw ji, 101%, go o,* Nee ir wooloo. 40, 44 00″Ibli. %.4 Sea ar t a; # Kitchenettes-Cable TV Pool In So od’Ir Horse n crowdof juchitecos shouted to the President. This time, the COCEI made sure the PRI made good on its promises of federal help. COCEI Mayor Sanchez developed an excellent relationship with both the governor of Oaxaca, Heladio Ramirez and President Salinas. Only the state capital, Oaxaca City, received more support than did Juchitan from Solidaridad Salinas’s pet economic aid program. In September 1991, Salinas selected Sanchez to speak before 1,000 Mexican mayors at a ceremony honoring Solidaridad. Newspapers ran front-page photos of the two men hugging. So much public affection across political lines has the PRD wondering if the COCEI has sold out to the PRI. Aware that the PRI’s genius for survival lies in its ability to embrace opposition, Cardenas has insisted that PRD members not negotiate with the PRI. A party whose only platform is practicality, the PRI often lures rivals into its fold, then disciplines them along party lines. It is a party with no ideological enemies, only autonomous ones. The COCEI has managed to remain loyal to its constituency, and its leaders have shown political agility in playing off both the PRI and the PRD. Over the past few years, the small regional party has repeatedly won a seat in the state legislature, and, emboldened by success, the COCEI symbolically broke with the PRD and backed an independent candidate in the gubernatorial elections held in August. When the PRD asked the COCEI to back its candidate instead, the COCEI leaders agreed in exchange for greater influence over the selection of PRD candidates for the state legislature. That one of the nation’s two major opposition parties had to compromise with the regional COCEI suggests that its power is growing. The PRI candidate, Diodoro Carrasco, won Oaxaca’s governorship in August. An associate of the former PRI governor, he seems unlikely to jeopardize the fairly cozy relationship COCEI leaders have fostered with the state. In November’s mayoral elections in Juchitan, the COCEI, whether it wins or not, will continue to exert political influence in that city, the Isthmus, and, increasingly, throughout the state. The persistence and continuity of its leadership the same people who founded the COCEI back in the ’70s are leading the party today make the COCEI a force the PRI has no choice but to recognize and reckon with. The question remains: Is the success of Juchitan’s opposition merely a symbolic safety valve, an isolated event that Salinas can afford to recognize and display to the world as an exemplar of Mexican democratization? Or is the COCEI’ s struggle a portent of future political battles which might occur on a state or national scale? Salinas’ commitment to keeping a tight rein on state-level politics has only intensified pressure for democratic change on the local level. Since 1988, when he took power, Salinas has replaced 10 governors, or a third of the total 31, leaving about half of Mexico’s population in the hands of presidentially appointed governors. Seven of these replacements came as the direct results of public indignation with fraudulent elections or allegations of corruption. No other Mexican president in the last 30 years has replaced so many governors during even an entire six-year term. In Michoacan, for example, Cardenas’ home state, the day after the PRI governor took office in 1988, he was removed by Salinas, who in his place. Angry citizens occupied over half of Michoacan’s town halls to protest what they claimed was a fraudulent election. Though they could change nothing on the state level, the people of Michoacan had their say in the local elections of 1989, in which neither promises of federal aid nor the manipulation of the elections could keep the PRI from losing over half of its seats in the state legislature. In resulting confrontations with the PRI, the opposition lost lives, and paid for its victory with blood. State legislature elections were held again in August of this year. The PRD has again cried fraud, and declared that if a comparison of the PRD vote counts with the official counts does not take place, the government will be responsible for instability throughout that state. Over the last four years, more than half of Mexico’s local elections have been marred by violence related to demonstrations against electoral fraud. In an authoritarian state, scattered local opposition victories mean little. President Salinas has concentrated on keeping middlelevel power which has produced three major challenges to PRI hegemony over the past three years within his control. The first challenge came in 1989 with the victory of PAN candidate Ernesto Ruffo as Governor of the state of Baja California, where the PRI was so despised that there was little Salinas could do except declare Ruffo’s victory his own. The day before he was sworn in as Governor, Ruffo flew to Mexico City as the President’s guest to attend Salinas’ first “state of the union” address. On the following day, Ruffo returned for his inauguration in Baja California in the Presidential plane with Salinas. Unlike many other prominent PAN members, Ruffo does not challenge Salinas’ legitimacy and frequently speaks highly of the President. The second challenge came in 1991 from The Wall Street Journal, whose critical response to fraudulent gubernatorial elections in Guanajuato is said to have helped persuade Salinas to remove the PRI winner from office . and appoint an interim PAN Governor. The third challenge, which was years overdue, came about in August of this year with a resounding PAN victory in Chihuahua’s gubernatorial elections. But the PRI calls the final shots, and its absolute power is not being eroded from the top down, as Mexicans, who are accustomed to politics being played out far beyond their reach, might have hoped would occur after 1988. Instead, it is being chipped away on the grassroots level, where fissures have appeared in the PRI’s wall of monolithic rule. Internal dissent afflicts the majority party at the local level, in part due to PRI members’ clashing reactions to the central government’s interference in their affairs. And on the Isthmus, the COCEI thrives off of the PRI’s inner squabbles. The PRI there has grown factionalized and “undisciplined” in the eyes of state and federal party leaders, while the COCEI has prospered as a strong and undivided movement. It now seems to be in the PRI’s interest to secure the stability of the Isthmus by befriending the COCEI. egy that has anchored the COCEI in the Isthmus over the last 15 years has not yet caught on elsewhere in the country. Although public displays of political discontent have occurred nationwide, until popular opposition becomes more than just post-electoral reaction, it will not pose a serious challenge to the PRI. The people who have most to lose by continued PRI dominance, however, are the most difficult to organize. Grassroots movements lack resources, leadership and the almost reckless confidence required to take on the PRI. Much of the COCEI’ s strength comes from its provincial focus on local affairs and a deeply rooted tradition of resisting imposed rule that goes back to Aztec times. Juchitan may prove too much of a cultural anomaly to become a direct inspiration for grassroots movements nationwide. More likely, though, the stubborn success of the COCEI will encourage other disenfranchised Mexicans to abandon a fatalistic dependency on authoritarian rule and to organize. THE TEXAS OBSERVER 21 0,44.1.11.kWoov.10,40vavre!..