On December the first 2000, Mexico witnessed the inauguration of Vincente Fox Quejada as its new President. The pomp and circumstance, the ceremonial unveiling of the flag, the military bands, the florid rhetoric, the servile speeches, were all nothing new.Yet this inauguration was something very new for Mexico. For the first time in 71 years, the President was not a member of the PRI - the comically misnamed Institutional Revolutionary Party which had ruled Mexico ever since 1929.

During his election campaign, Vicente Fox, the right wing candidate of the Partido Accion Nacional (National Action Party), had promised a huge increase in employment, education, welfare, and peace in Chiapas, etc. Not only that, he also claimed that these changes would be introduced quickly. Reality, as could be easily predicted, has turned out somewhat differently.

Thousands of peasants armed with machetes and wooden sticks, many of them on horseback, fought running battles against anti-riot police in Mexico City on November 14. The peasants had travelled 30 km from their properties in the State of Mexico to protest against the expropriation of their lands by the government in order to build the new Mexico City airport. This conflict, which has been going on for months, threatens to became a major headache for Vicente Fox's one year old government.

On May 31, 26 peasants were ambushed and murdered in the southern Mexico state of Oaxaca. They belonged to the community of Santiago Xochiltepec, and the authorities initially blamed the massacre on intercommunity conflicts. However there have been allegations concerning the role of logging companies that operate illegally in the area and receive protection from state and paramilitary forces.

Late Tuesday Alejandro Toledo, president of Peru, declared a 30-day state of emergency. This was the Peruvian government's response to growing social tension in the country. A wave of strikes has been sweeping the country over the past two weeks with more and more workers coming out.

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