On July 8 Mr. Lopez Obrador, often referred to as AMLO (his initials), managed to attract a crowd up to half-a-million people who poured into Mexico City's main square, known as the Zocalo, proving that the best political card in his hands right now is his ability to mobilise the masses.

 

For hours the world's second biggest square (after Tiananmen in Beijing) was coloured with yellow, the colour of Mr. Lopez Obrador's Democratic Revolution Party.

 

It was an outpouring of public support similar to the Orange Revolution which gripped Kiev after disputed elections there in 2004. 

 

In a country of 103 million people, half of which at least are poor and 18 million live in extreme poverty, most of the protesters have no health services, no education and no land and so feel they have no future and no dignity; they say they have nothing to lose because they have never gained anything. And they are simply fed up.

 

"With our blood, with our soul we will defend you Lopez Obrador"

Chant from AMLO supporters in the Zocalo

I recently visited one of Mexico City's many poor neighbourhoods; everywhere I went I could smell the sewage.

 

People here earn less than two dollars a day. 

 

Of course, compared to other countries I have been to, it is not that bad.  However this is Mexico, where there should not be any poverty at all. The country is rich in resources including oil, gas and uranium, but has one of Latin America's worst records on wealth distribution. 

 

Had Mr. Lopez Obrador won the presidential elections, he would have surely won by a very tight margin; he would then have had both chambers of the legislative against him and he would have faced a country divided and difficult to rule.

 

It is quite possible that the challenges ahead of him would have been too great to face and his electoral promises would have been too far to obtain.

Lopez Obrador is a former
mayor of Mexico City

He, or anybody else, is unlikely to make rapid effective changes that would make the poor less poor. 

He may have ended up disappointing the same masses that support him now, and even though he has still not reached the presidency, these masses believe in him more than ever.

They hang on to him as a symbol of resistance and hope. 

 

He gives them a dream that nobody else has given them before, although some might say the leader of the Zapatista Liberation Army, Subcomandante Marcos, has been that symbol. 

 

But Marcos does not seek power and he does not come from within the establishment as is the case with Lopez Obrador.

No choice

After all the voting, political manoeuvring and legal argument it may be that AMLO has no option but to go against the current if he wants to have a political future.

If he were to accept the result of the elections, he would probably lose his popularity and face a long and slow drift into political death, simply because the masses cannot accept the status quo. 

 

"This idiot is making fun of Mexico"

Slogan on an anti-Calderon banner

If he is to disappoint them, then Marcos would be the next one they would hang on it, although he seems to attract less and less Mexicans to his rallies.

 

Let's be clear though. Mr. Lopez Obrador is not anti-imperialist, he is not Chavez or Evo Morales. He is not likely to make radical changes towards the left. Many people see him as Mexico's version of Lula or Bachelet, leftist but moderate and maintaining good ties with the USA.

 

Despite this many of his supporters want an anti-US government in Mexico, want a Chavez, want the whole package of radical leftist changes; they don't seem aware of the fact that AMLO was going to be none of the above.


Turning tide

 

Plunging into the human sea in the Zocalo after the rally, I could see great anger in people's eyes. Some scared me. They were shouting: “With our blood, with our soul we will defend you Lopez Obrador”. 

 

Many said, or rather screamed at me: "We will not tolerate the rich steeling our country's resources and leaving us poor for ever. It is time for the poor to be on top and the rich to be in the bottom".

 

Conservative Felipe Calderon
celebrated and went on holiday

Some cried, some were hysterical; some grabbed my Aljazeera microphone and shouted irrational, hardly understandable words to the camera. 

 

They even yelled at me: "liar", thinking I was a Mexican journalist not telling the truth about them.

 

It reminded me of the Venezuelans a few years back and the Bolivians and the Peruvians during their last elections.  

 

Whether or not Mr. Lopez Obrador manages to prove his point about the alleged fraud committed in the elections does not seem to matter that much any more. 

 

The 14 million voters who chose him as their candidate might grow bigger now that someone is standing up against the system through which 300 powerful and rich families have always ruled Mexico.

 

During the 8 July rally, the official winner in the elections, right-wing Felipe Calderon from the National Action Party, was relaxing in Cuernavaca, a summer town where rich Mexicans typically have their holiday or weekend homes. 

 

Watching the Zocalo turn yellow, he might have been alarmed.  For me it was like the Yellow River in China which floods regularly.

 

If the Zocalo keeps flooding then maybe Mr. Calderon ought to spend less time in Cuernavaca and watch out for wider floods across the country, which could end up at his doorstep sooner than he thinks.