Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Mexican high court will examine controversial public assembly restrictions in Federal District

Broad language of regulations may be their downfall

These self-styled Red Guards in Guadalajara displayed contempt for all three major political parties, lashing out at the "bourgeois repression" of PRI, PAN and even the left wing PRD - Oct. 2, 2013

Guadalajara -
Mexico's Supreme Judicial Court yesterday accepted for review a new law which requires that all public demonstrations in the capital be cleared with local authorities at least 48 hours in advance, exposing the regulation to constitutional challenge.

On its face the law applies to any type of street march - including social, religious or sports oriented - but it is well understood that its primary target is political protests, which almost brought Mexico City to its knees in the summer of 2013.

In addition to the advance notice requirement, proposed demonstrations which threatened to disrupt traffic flow or "public peace and tranquility" could be banned or transferred to another location, against the will of organizers.

The regulations went into effect July 14 but have yet to be tested on the street, prompting the judicial minsters to take up the case.

Last year Mexico City was occupied by radical striking school teachers for weeks, and later besieged by self-proclaimed anarchists who went on a wild rampage for no particular reason (perhaps other than to loot and fight police in the streets).

Authorities said that in 2013 public demonstrations in the capital - which at times prevented travelers from reaching Mexico City's International Airport, and federal senators and deputies from reaching their own assembly halls - also cost local business as much as $100 million dollars, prompting all three of the country's major political parties to demand assembly restrictions. PRI, PAN and PRD call for tough laws on street violence. Whether they went too far will now be decided by the Supreme Court.

Under American law, local authorities in limited instances may require parade permits if large crowds are anticipated and a police presence is necessary to protect demonstrators or third parties, and to ensure public safety. But advance notice may never be required for spontaneous marches which are political in nature, especially if they are in response to late breaking events. A regulation purporting to ban marches which threaten "public peace and tranquility" would be presumptively unconstitutional, and very unlikely to survive judicial review.

Aug. 25, 2013 - PRI government shows no resolve against thug teachers
Sept. 17, 2013 - Mexico City labor violence, through the lens

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