Two separate movements of protest occurred in Mexico in 2006. The first took place in the state of Oaxaca, partly inspired by anger at the fraudulent election of the governor, in which 60% of the electorate abstained. Unrest began in May, when the teachers demanded a pay rise, and over six months became a popular revolt creating its own democratic institutions. The resistance mebraced a wide range of methods, including state-wide strikes and hunger strikes, marches of up to 800,000 people, occupation of government buildings and a peaceful takeover by women of the state TV station for 3 weeks. This was not a strictly nonviolent movement – for example students and local citizens fought the police to maintain their occupation of the university, and barricades were thrown up to defend public spaces. But it was an impressive example of people power. Attempts at violent repression by the government – detention, torture and use of death squads – encouraged mass involvement.
People power to contest rigged elections took place when Lopez Obrador mobilized 500,000 and then one million demonstrators to protest in July 2006 against the dubious victory of Felipe Calderon in the presidential elections and called for a recount. But this failed to force the authorities to review the results. Here the left was protesting against a candidate favoured by Washington. Not all commentators agreed that the electoral process had been seriously flawed.