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Calderon: “Is it the Chad?”

It seems that the United States is not the only country on this hemisphere that can have presidential elections from Hell. Ruling party candidate Felix Calderon appears to have a tortilla-chip’s edge on leftist candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, in the Mexican presidential race. But the latter candidate is not conceding just yet. Lopez Obrador, the former Mexico City mayor, has charged voting irregularities had taken place and plans to mount legal challenges. Note to Ted Olson and David Boies and hundreds of other election attorneys out there: Start brushing up on your Espanol.

Although the situation following Sunday’s election appears to remain peaceful, Mexico has had its share of tumultuous political moments. Much of this tradition stems from the influence of the Aztec god Quetzalcoatl. According to one version of this deity’s story:

“Long before the Aztecs saw the sign in the valley of Mexico, the snake had been a revered animal in the religions of the ancient Central America. One of their main gods, Quetzalcoatl, sometimes appeared as a winged serpent. The legend of Quetzalcoatl says that upon finding a mirror, and seeing himself for the first time, he was surprised and distraught to learn that he had the face not of a god but of a man.
In his depression he spent the night drinking pulque, a type of cactus beer. Once intoxicated he had an incestuous relationship with his sister. After awaking the next morning, hungover and ashamed, he left Mexico on a boat of serpents, telling the people that he would return in a ‘one reed’ year (ancient Mexicans had a sophisticated calendar and counted years by combining a number and an object).”

Cortez and the conquistadors, the story goes on to say, arrived in Veracruz in a reed year. The Totanaca people thought him to be the second coming of Quetzalcoatl. Since the Totanaca were not happy with the Aztecs, they aligned themselves with Cortez and a) the rest is history. b)things went downhill from there. c)thus was the birth of chewing gum. d)None of the above.

Really, I have no earthly idea what Quetzalcoatl has to do with Mexico’s political history, except of course if you look at the snake locked in combat with the eagle on the nation’s flag. But I’m sure something can be learned from this myth. For instance, no matter how hungover and ashamed you are, never go off riding on a boat loaded with serpents.

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