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LAS AMERICAS The Mangy Mexicos of Don Felipe BARBARAar j Dia de muertos in the Mexico City Zocalo photo by Marcia Perskie Amid all the shoving, shouting, and whistling, and despite the banner proclaiming him a traitor to the Republic, on the morning of December 1, Felipe Calderon managed to enter the Mexican Congress through the back door. He swore to uphold the Constitution, grabbed the presidential sash, fastened it over his right shoulder, and was out the back door again in less than five minutes. Later that afternoon, Calderon spoke before a decidedly more receptive audience of party loyalists, government officials, and the international and business elite at the National Auditorium. “I assume the presidency of the Republic with the legitimate mandate to serve the nation as chief of state and head of the government:’ he proclaimed, adding that he was aware “of the complexity of the circumstances?’ For those who were counting, it was the third time in less than 24 hours that Calderon had assumed the presidencybeginning with a bizarre midnight ceremony featuring his soon-tobe predecessor, Vicente Fox, the incoming cabinet, and a couple of pokerfaced, exceedingly young-looking military cadets that was broadcast live on Mexican television. As to the “circumstances” in which the 44-year-old lawyer, former energy National Action Party, or PAN, politico took office, they are indeed complex. Calderon starts his presidency with just a 0.56 percent edge over his leading opponent in the July 2 elections, according to the federal electoral court’s opaque and contradictory decision issued in September, following two months of protests. On November 20, Calderon’s main opponent, former Mexico City Mayor Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, held his own inauguration and launched his “itinerant presidency,” promising to visit 2,500 municipalities throughout the republic by the time the magic year of 2009 rolls around \(midterm elections 16 THE TEXAS OBSERVER DECEMBER 15, 2006