The new president of Mexico, Felipe Calderon, took his public oath of office as 100,000 protesters, led by Lopez Obrador held a rally in opposition. Their claim was that the election was illegitimate. To increase the public perception of illegitimacy, Obrador formed a "parallel" government to frustrate the operations of the official Mexican government after he lost the election earlier this year. So far, this has merely resulted in low level disruption, such as protest marches and a sit-in on a main thoroughfare in Mexico City. As these measures prove ineffective, the conflict will likely escalate into violent protest.
However, there is more to the story. Mexico is in an unparalleled situation where two popular political factions are locked in a struggle to the death. This offers an amazing opportunity for any group (even a very small one) to completely disrupt the Mexico through the methods of systems disruption that worked so well in Iraq. Like most modern developing states, the Mexican state is highly reliant on critical infrastructure to deliver political goods. Disruption of this infrastructure over an extended period would quickly delegitimize the Mexican state and force a violent political struggle and substantial fragmentation. In effect, Mexico could become a failed state.
Here's on potential method of how it could happen. Analysis of critical Mexican infrastructure reveals a critical flaw. Due to its history as an oil exporter, nearly all domestic fuels and most of its electricity is generated from oil and natural gas delivered by pipelines radiating from the oil producing region in the southeastern corner of the country. Low tech attacks along a 300-400 mile stretch of pipeline would quickly starve the country of the oil needed to generate electricity and refine fuels (the current system has been inadvertently built to maximize cascading failures across multiple infrastructures if properly disrupted). Further, analysis of the pipeline infrastructure would also quickly reveal junctions and pumping equipment that would be extremely difficult to replace (systempunkts). As we have seen in Iraq, Nigeria, India, Pakistan, etc. these anonymous attacks could be frequent, effective, and nearly impossible to interdict. They would also result in an immediate expansion of black markets for fuels imported from the US, generating a useful feedback loop for continued disruption.Given the level of gang and criminal violence currently challenging the Mexican state for supremacy, there is already a large subset of actors that could quickly seize upon this opportunity. Their access to arms (often much better than the Mexican military) and to sources of income independent of the state's function (smuggling of all types into the US) would allow them to thrive at double and triple digit growth rates as state power began to fail. They also have access to a huge pool of people that would be easily enticed to disrupt infrastructure for a few dollars (enabling the costs inflicted by disruption to top $200,000 for every $1 invested in the activity). In short, the dynamic that is produced would be similar to the models of state failure we have seen elsewhere. It would also be almost impossible to stop once it becomes entrenched.
UPDATE: This analysis proved to be right on target (almost with too much clarity). Less than a year after writing this, a defunct guerrilla group made two attacks on natural gas infrastructure. It caused $2.5 billion in damage with each attack. As a result, Mexico was forced to allocate many of its forces to pipeline security, which has reduced its ability to engage narco-guerrillas in the north (this is a global guerrilla strategy used by Lawrence of Arabia). The strategy seems to be working, Mexico is losing its war with the narco-guerrillas.