Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Support Our Annual Fund Drive! CounterPunch is entirely supported by our readers. Your donations pay for our small staff, tiny office, writers, designers, techies, bandwidth and servers. We don’t owe anything to advertisers, foundations, one-percenters or political parties. You are our only safety net. Please make a tax-deductible donation today.
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:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

Weekend Edition
September 30, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Henry Giroux
Thinking Dangerously in the Age of Normalized Ignorance
Stanley L. Cohen
Israel and Academic Freedom: a Closed Book
Paul Craig Roberts – Michael Hudson
Can Russia Learn From Brazil’s Fate? 
Andrew Levine
A Putrid Election: the Horserace as Farce
Mike Whitney
The Biggest Heist in Human History
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: the Sick Blue Line
Rob Urie
The Twilight of the Leisure Class
Vijay Prashad
In a Hall of Mirrors: Fear and Dislike at the Polls
Alexander Cockburn
The Man Who Built Clinton World
John Wight
Who Will Save Us From America?
Pepe Escobar
Afghanistan; It’s the Heroin, Stupid
W. T. Whitney
When Women’s Lives Don’t Matter
Julian Vigo
“Ooops, I Did It Again”: How the BBC Funnels Stories for Financial Gain
Howard Lisnoff
What was Missing From The Nation’s Interview with Bernie Sanders
Jeremy Brecher
Dakota Access Pipeline and the Future of American Labor
Binoy Kampmark
Pictures Left Incomplete: MH17 and the Joint Investigation Team
Andrew Kahn
Nader Gave Us Bush? Hillary Could Give Us Trump
Steve Horn
Obama Weakens Endangered Species Act
Dave Lindorff
US Propaganda Campaign to Demonize Russia in Full Gear over One-Sided Dutch/Aussie Report on Flight 17 Downing
John W. Whitehead
Uncomfortable Truths You Won’t Hear From the Presidential Candidates
Ramzy Baroud
Shimon Peres: Israel’s Nuclear Man
Brandon Jordan
The Battle for Mercosur
Murray Dobbin
A Globalization Wake-Up Call
Jesse Ventura
Corrupted Science: the DEA and Marijuana
Richard W. Behan
Installing a President by Force: Hillary Clinton and Our Moribund Democracy
Andrew Stewart
The Democratic Plot to Privatize Social Security
Daniel Borgstrom
On the Streets of Oakland, Expressing Solidarity with Charlotte
Marjorie Cohn
President Obama: ‘Patron’ of the Israeli Occupation
Norman Pollack
The “Self-Hating” Jew: A Critique
David Rosen
The Living Body & the Ecological Crisis
Joseph Natoli
Thoughtcrimes and Stupidspeak: Our Assault Against Words
Ron Jacobs
A Cycle of Death Underscored by Greed and a Lust for Power
Uri Avnery
Abu Mazen’s Balance Sheet
Kim Nicolini
Long Drive Home
Louisa Willcox
Tribes Make History with Signing of Grizzly Bear Treaty
Art Martin
The Matrix Around the Next Bend: Facebook, Augmented Reality and the Podification of the Populace
Andre Vltchek
Failures of the Western Left
Ishmael Reed
Millennialism or Extinctionism?
Frances Madeson
Why It’s Time to Create a Cabinet-Level Dept. of Native Affairs
Laura Finley
Presidential Debate Recommendations
José Negroni
Mass Firings on Broadway Lead Singers to Push Back
Leticia Cortez
Entering the Historical Dissonance Surrounding Desafinados
Robert J. Burrowes
Gandhi: ‘My Life is My Message’
Charles R. Larson
Queen Lear? Deborah Levy’s “Hot Milk”
David Yearsley
Bring on the Nibelungen: If Wagner Scored the Debates
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail
[i]
[i]
[i]
[i]