Monday, August 28, 2006

Tumult in Mexico

Political activists say Cardinal Norberto Rivera of Mexico City has taken sides in the country's contested presidential election... Rivera calls activists "crazies":
Rivera is now immersed in a nasty political tussle that illuminates the hair-trigger sensitivity here about mixing religion and politics.

On one side, supporters of Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the populist presidential candidate who is challenging the results of the July 2 election, accuse Rivera of siding with the apparent winner, Felipe Calderón. On the other side, Rivera calls protesters who have disrupted Mass at the cathedral "crazies," and other Catholic leaders condemn López Obrador supporters for placing the image of Mexico's most revered saint, the Virgin of Guadalupe, on political posters.

"The mix of religion and politics is always explosive in Mexico," said historian Enrique Krauze, who has dubbed López Obrador a "tropical messiah" because, Krauze says, he tries to use religion to further his political appeal.

Rivera has shown no reluctance to blend the spiritual and the secular, either. Last month, he said the church could mediate the post-electoral crisis.

Two weeks later, he called on Mexican Catholics to respect a decision by a special elections court rejecting López Obrador's request for a full recount and ordering a recount of only 9 percent of polling places. Rivera's statement echoed the position of Calderón, who supported the court's decision, and countered the stance of López Obrador, who lambasted the ruling and continued to demand a full recount. The court is expected to issue a ruling Monday on the electoral challenges.