FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Electoral Hijinks in Mexico

by JOHN HAZARD

On the eve of Sunday’s national elections, hundreds of thousands of protesters, mostly students, stayed till midnight in marches in Mexico City and other cities. The polls opened at 8  the morning with the usual fraud and inefficiency: some polling places didn´t open till noon, but they closed on time at six and left people waiting in line, unable to vote.

The unofficial results, hailed by most Mexican media and by governments like that of the United States, show Enrique Peña Nieto of the PRI, the historic ruling party, six points ahead of his nearest rival, Andrés Manuel López Obrador of a center-left tendency.

Immediately the word spread among supporters of the “Yo soy 132” movement that there would be a march the next day from a recently opened monument called La Estela de Luz in the west of the city to the centrally-located Monumento de la Revolución. (The significance of the number 132 is this: the movement gathered force when Peña Nieto gave a speech at a Jesuit university, la Universidad Iberoamericana, and was heckled by students who accused him of ordering rape, murder, and torture to repress a campesino movement in the village of Atenco in the state of Mexico in 2006 when he was governor.  The protest garnered an unusual amount of attention (though the same media and all the political parties covered up the atrocity when it occurred) and a few days later the students were attacked as “pseudo-students” and partisans of López Obrador. They released a video in which 131 of them showed their student IDs and said they had participated in the protest. The name 132 was thus coined as an umbrella term for protesters around the country, but especially for students in Mexico City. In other cities, the collusion between the ruling parties, the media, and drug cartels is such that expression of political dissent is difficult.

Monday´s march was scheduled for 2 o´clock. López Obrador scheduled a press conference for 6 p.m.  The march meandered strangely through side streets of an affluent neighborhood, Polanco, for several hours. Even there many neighbors showed support. This area has historically been loyal to the right-wing Partido de Acción Nacional (PAN), party of the current president, Calderón, and his predecessor, Fox. Their 12 years in power were marked by the same mediocrity and subservience to corporate and imperial interests as had characterized the final years of the PRI. This seemed to be the basis of the desire of many people in the elite to bring back the PRI.

After more than an hour in Polanco, marchers finally entered the city’s second-biggest highway, Circuito Interior, and occupied all the north-bound lanes to take a relatively direct route toward the destination. A very heavy rain came down shortly before the first marchers arrived. This caused people to disperse prematurely.  Some stayed at the Monumento de la Revolución for an assembly, some marched to the huge national headquarters of the PRI a few blocks away and stuck banners to the fence with slogans like “Si hay imposición, habrá revolución”, and others entered the subway station and filled platforms and train cars, shouting slogans. Here also, non-students, decidedly more working-class than the those in Polanco, joined in. Some, after the tour of the PRI, went to the headquarters of Televisa, the biggest television network, about two miles away. Peña Nieto has had a publicity contract with Televisa for years, as was reported recently in the London daily The Independent.

In the assembly, many expressed the opinion that the anti-fraud protests organized by López Obrador six years ago didn’t go far enough. The movement insists  constantly on its non-partisan nature and one person who said it’s necessary to coordinate protests with López Obrador was rejected though, paradoxically, the movement’s insistence on voting and on defending the vote was an obvious suggestion to vote for him and not for the other candidates, all obviously discarded as right-wing and/or corrupt. A significant number of people in the movement, on the other hand, are farther to the left, have no illusions about López Obrador, and are waiting for what has historically happened in Mexico, notable in the Revolution and in the independence movement: the masses make stronger demands than the leaders of the movements.

Today’s front page of La Jornada, one of the few mass media that gives space to criticism, features the march, López Obrador’s press conference, and graphic evidence of fraud: the PRI gave away thousands or millions of debit cards entitling the bearer to at least 700 pesos worth of goods at supermarkets in the Soriana chain, redeemable the day after the election. A photograph shows the chaos provoked by the rush of shoppers. The current exchange rate is approximately 14 pesos to the dollar.

López Obrador signed, as did all the candidates, a pledge to respect the results of the election. This was part of the part of the campaign of the IFE (Instituto Electoral Federal) to clean its image after the debacle of 2006 and to demonstrate by repetition, not by effort or by substantive changes, that this year´s election would be fraud-proof. The campaign included testimonials by university presidents and other ostensibly respectable figures who validated what they could not honestly predict.

López Obrador called the election dirty, alleged that millions of votes had been bought, and announced that he would appeal the (still unofficial) results. He alleged that Peña Nieto and his party had exceeded spending limits by 5 billion pesos and by well over 1000%. (The limit is $260 million and the allegation is that the PRI spent more than $5 billion, or $5 thousand million in Mexican numerical nomenclature.)

Today the “Yo soy 132” movement marches to the IFE and holds a general assembly.

JOHN HAZARD can be reached at jhazard99@yahoo.com

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
May 27, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
Silencing America as It Prepares for War
Rob Urie
By the Numbers: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are Fringe Candidates
Andrew Levine
Hillary’s Gun Gambit
Paul Street
Feel the Hate
Daniel Raventós - Julie Wark
Basic Income Gathers Steam Across Europe
Gunnar Westberg
Close Calls: We Were Much Closer to Nuclear Annihilation Than We Ever Knew
Jeffrey St. Clair
Hand Jobs: Heidegger, Hitler and Trump
S. Brian Willson
Remembering All the Deaths From All of Our Wars
Dave Lindorff
With Clinton’s Nixonian Email Scandal Deepening, Sanders Must Demand Answers
Pete Dolack
Millions for the Boss, Cuts for You!
Peter Lee
To Hell and Back: Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Karl Grossman
Long Island as a Nuclear Park
Binoy Kampmark
Sweden’s Assange Problem: The District Court Ruling
Robert Fisk
Why the US Dropped Its Demand That Assad Must Go
Martha Rosenberg – Ronnie Cummins
Bayer and Monsanto: a Marriage Made in Hell
Brian Cloughley
Pivoting to War
Stavros Mavroudeas
Blatant Hypocrisy: the Latest Late-Night Bailout of Greece
Arun Gupta
A War of All Against All
Dan Kovalik
NPR, Yemen & the Downplaying of U.S. War Crimes
Randy Blazak
Thugs, Bullies, and Donald J. Trump: The Perils of Wounded Masculinity
Murray Dobbin
Are We Witnessing the Beginning of the End of Globalization?
Daniel Falcone
Urban Injustice: How Ghettos Happen, an Interview with David Hilfiker
Gloria Jimenez
In Honduras, USAID Was in Bed with Berta Cáceres’ Accused Killers
Kent Paterson
The Old Braceros Fight On
Lawrence Reichard
The Seemingly Endless Indignities of Air Travel: Report from the Losing Side of Class Warfare
Peter Berllios
Bernie and Utopia
Stan Cox – Paul Cox
Indonesia’s Unnatural Mud Disaster Turns Ten
Linda Pentz Gunter
Obama in Hiroshima: Time to Say “Sorry” and “Ban the Bomb”
George Souvlis
How the West Came to Rule: an Interview with Alexander Anievas
Julian Vigo
The Government and Your i-Phone: the Latest Threat to Privacy
Stratos Ramoglou
Why the Greek Economic Crisis Won’t be Ending Anytime Soon
David Price
The 2016 Tour of California: Notes on a Big Pharma Bike Race
Dmitry Mickiewicz
Barbarous Deforestation in Western Ukraine
Rev. William Alberts
The United Methodist Church Up to Its Old Trick: Kicking the Can of Real Inclusion Down the Road
Patrick Bond
Imperialism’s Junior Partners
Mark Hand
The Trouble with Fracking Fiction
Priti Gulati Cox
Broken Green: Two Years of Modi
Marc Levy
Sitrep: Hometown Unwelcomes Vietnam Vets
Lorenzo Raymond
Why Nonviolent Civil Resistance Doesn’t Work (Unless You Have Lots of Bombs)
Ed Kemmick
New Book Full of Amazing Montana Women
Michael Dickinson
Bye Bye Legal High in Backwards Britain
Missy Comley Beattie
Wanted: Daddy or Mommy in Chief
Ed Meek
The Republic of Fear
Charles R. Larson
Russian Women, Then and Now
David Yearsley
Elgar’s Hegemony: the Pomp of Empire
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail