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:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

August 25, 2016
Mike Whitney
The Broken Chessboard: Brzezinski Gives up on Empire
Paul Cox – Stan Cox
The Louisiana Catastrophe Proves the Need for Universal, Single-Payer Disaster Insurance
John W. Whitehead
Another Brick in the Wall: Children of the American Police State
Lewis Evans
Genocide in Plain Sight: Shooting Bushmen From Helicopters in Botswana
Daniel Kovalik
Colombia: Peace in the Shadow of the Death Squads
Sam Husseini
How the Washington Post Sells the Politics of Fear
Ramzy Baroud
Punishing the Messenger: Israel’s War on NGOs Takes a Worrying Turn
Norman Pollack
Troglodyte Vs. Goebbelean Fascism: The 2016 Presidential Race
Simon Wood
Where are the Child Victims of the West?
Roseangela Hartford
The Hidden Homeless Population
Mark Weisbrot
Obama’s Campaign for TPP Could Drag Down the Democrats
Rick Sterling
Clintonites Prepare for War on Syria
Yves Engler
The Anti-Semitism Smear Against Canadian Greens
August 24, 2016
John Pilger
Provoking Nuclear War by Media
Jonathan Cook
The Birth of Agro-Resistance in Palestine
Eric Draitser
Ajamu Baraka, “Uncle Tom,” and the Pathology of White Liberal Racism
Jack Rasmus
Greek Debt and the New Financial Imperialism
Robert Fisk
The Sultan’s Hit List Grows, as Turkey Prepares to Enter Syria
Abubakar N. Kasim
What Did the Olympics Really Do for Humanity?
Renee Parsons
Obamacare Supporters Oppose ColoradoCare
Alycee Lane
The Trump Campaign: a White Revolt Against ‘Neoliberal Multiculturalism’
Edward Hunt
Maintaining U.S. Dominance in the Pacific
George Wuerthner
The Big Fish Kill on the Yellowstone
Jesse Jackson
Democrats Shouldn’t Get a Blank Check From Black Voters
Kent Paterson
Saving Southern New Mexico from the Next Big Flood
Arnold August
RIP Jean-Guy Allard: A Model for Progressive Journalists Working in the Capitalist System
August 23, 2016
Diana Johnstone
Hillary and the Glass Ceilings Illusion
Bill Quigley
Race and Class Gap Widening: Katrina Pain Index 2016 by the Numbers
Ted Rall
Trump vs. Clinton: It’s All About the Debates
Eoin Higgins
Will Progressive Democrats Ever Support a Third Party Candidate?
Kenneth J. Saltman
Wall Street’s Latest Public Sector Rip-Off: Five Myths About Pay for Success
Binoy Kampmark
Labouring Hours: Sweden’s Six-Hour Working Day
John Feffer
The Globalization of Trump
Gwendolyn Mink – Felicia Kornbluh
Time to End “Welfare as We Know It”
Medea Benjamin
Congress Must Take Action to Block Weapon Sales to Saudi Arabia
Halyna Mokrushyna
Political Writer, Daughter of Ukrainian Dissident, Detained and Charged in Ukraine
Manuel E. Yepe
Tourism and Religion Go Hand-in-Hand in the Caribbean
ED ADELMAN
Belted by Trump
Thomas Knapp
War: The Islamic State and Western Politicians Against the Rest of Us
Nauman Sadiq
Shifting Alliances: Turkey, Russia and the Kurds
Rivera Sun
Active Peace: Restoring Relationships While Making Change
August 22, 2016
Eric Draitser
Hillary Clinton: The Anti-Woman ‘Feminist’
Robert Hunziker
Arctic Death Rattle
Norman Solomon
Clinton’s Transition Team: a Corporate Presidency Foretold
Ralph Nader
Hillary’s Hubris: Only Tell the Rich for $5000 a Minute!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail