Another electoral fraud has taken place in Mexico. On July 1, Andres Manuel López Obrador, better known as AMLO and the candidate of the left, was robbed of the presidency — for the second time. This time, however, the conditions were very different from the election of 2006, when the Electoral Tribunal of the Federal Judiciary declared Felipe Calderón of the National Action Party (PAN) the winner over AMLO.
Several months ago, in the midst of AMLO’s electoral campaign, there was great enthusiasm among the supporters of his Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) and the progressive movement in general. But his victory was not certain.
Then, something changed in the political scene in Mexico.
youth movement arose that rejected his main opponent, Enrique Peña Nieto of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which had ruled the country for most of the 20th century. The PRI’s control of the federal government was ended in 2000, four years after the signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement, when the former chief executive of Coca-Cola in Mexico, Vicente Fox, brought the PAN to power for the first time.
That was a victory for the U.S. imperialist agenda of pushing neoliberalism and privatization. Fox was followed by six more years of a PAN presidency under Calderón. However, the more than 60,000 people killed during Calderón’s term in a violent drug war ordered by the U.S., plus the privatization of education and other anti-people policies, caused the PRI to come in third in this election.
During the 12 years of PAN presidents, NAFTA’s impact, which had opened up Mexico as a market for U.S.-government subsidized corn, led to the ruination of many peasants who had worked communal lands for generations. They were forced to emigrate by the millions across the border to find work. A growing income gap in Mexico worsened the social conditions.
While no longer controlling the federal government, the PRI has been entrenched in many states. However, it ruled with an iron fist in the past and still has blood on its hands.
One of its most recent crimes was committed by Peña Nieto when he was governor of the state of Mexico. On May 3 and 4, 2006, more than 3,000 repressive agents of the police and State Security forces were called in to fight against the people of Atenco, who had gathered to defend the right of small vendors to sell flowers in front of the municipal market.
The people were met by brutal state force, resulting in the deaths of two young men, the rape of 26 women, and the violation of the human rights of 209, including torture of 206 people. (eleconomista.com.mx)
‘Yo soy #132’ springs up
This May 11, when the PRI’s Peña Nieto went to campaign for president at the Ibero American University (UIA), a private college attended by children of the middle class, he thought he would be welcomed. Instead he was met by intense questioning. The students protested his role during the Atenco repression, shouting “Atenco will not be forgotten.”
Peña Nieto then took responsibility for the repression but defended his action, angering the students further. Finally he took refuge in a bathroom, after which his security team whisked him away through the back door of the building to avoid a peaceful protest the students had organized. (mexico.cnn.com)
The university president then said that the protesters were not students but rather members of AMLO’s movement. But 131 UIA students who had been at the event made a video showing their university IDs. They posted it on YouTube, where it went viral.
A movement was thus formed, mostly through the social networks YouTube, Twitter and Facebook, where other UIA students declared “Yo soy #132? (I am number 132).
Since then, the movement spread all over Mexico, including other universities, both private and public, and non-students. They received support from artists nationally and internationally and from movements throughout the world. They organized several mobilizations and even a presidential debate with all the candidates — where Peña Nieto refused to appear. On the website animalpolitico.com, they published a statement and demands to attain a “freer Mexico, with more justice and prosperity.” They said, “We want the current situation of misery, inequality, poverty and violence to be resolved.”
Massive evidence of electoral fraud
As the exposure of Peña Nieto, particularly by the Yo soy #132 movement, became massive, the PRI initiated a campaign through its dominant media — Televisa, TV Azteca and others. They praised Nieto, the candidate of the oligarchy, and demonized AMLO. They reported as fact deceptive polling results, making it appear that Peña Nieto was so far ahead that it would be impossible for AMLO to win the election.
Mounting evidence of electoral fraud has appeared all over the social networks, alternative media and progressive news websites like Cubadebate and Telesur. The evidence ranges from oral testimonies, photos, videos and statements to government documents accessed by activists like Anonymous, who hacked the website of the Federal Electoral Institute.
Mexicans were urged to take pictures of voting lists in every location and upload them to Facebook and other networks, where they could be compared. Several websites exist for this purpose: OpenPrep.org, Contamos.org.mx and FotoXCasilla.mx. According to this effort, the votes counted give a lead to AMLO. (cubadebate.cu)
It has also emerged that the PRI resorted to other illegal maneuvers, such as the distribution of cards redeemable at the Soriana chain of grocery and department stores in return for votes. This became a major scandal, which the PRI had not counted on, as masses of voters went to the stores to cash in their cards. Some stores had to close because of the enormous demand.
On July 12, AMLO held a press conference presenting all the evidence on which he is basing his demand to annul the election results. In sum, he states that 5 million votes were bought by the PRI.
Part of the PRI strategy, according to AMLO’s findings, was buying votes in the poorest regions of the country through the intervention of PRI governors, who promised cash, redeemable cards, construction materials, fertilizer and so on in exchange for votes. (lopezobrador.org.mx)
National Convention and Mexico’s future
While the forces around AMLO are initiating suits against the electoral fraud in the legal arena, a great deal of activity continues at all levels. Workers World spoke with José Humberto Montes de Oca, the foreign secretary for the militant Mexican Electricians Union (SME). The SME is part of the National Convention Against the Imposition, an emergency conference organized to devise a plan of action against the imposition of the PRI in the elections.
He said the conference met July 14 and 15 under the slogan “To surrender is forbidden.” Some 800 delegates attended, representing 250 organizations from 25 Mexican states. The Yo soy #132 and the People’s Front in Defense of the Land welcomed the participants.
The main points for discussion were a plan of action against the imposition, the setting up of a structure for building the National Convention, and a program for struggle. Several demonstrations were approved, including a national day of marches and actions on July 22.
Asked about his view of these new developments, Montes de Oca replied that there are three main forces in the postelectoral period. One is AMLO’s coalition and electoral parties. The second is civil society organizations, among them the Yo soy #132. Last is the unorganized civil society, which has convened in a spontaneous manner.
This, he said, is a very important development. They do not belong to any party but are political and encourage the rest of the people to struggle peacefully for a program of transformation of the country. He continued, “We are in a time of reconfiguration, of recomposition of the political scene. If all these forces consolidate and become active forces, it will be very interesting, beyond December” — when the new president takes office. n