International / Latin America

Mass Protests in Mexico


Mass Protests in Mexico

by Alan Woods

Mass street protests have erupted against electoral fraud in Mexico. The official version of the results of the presidential election on 1 July gave Enrique Peña Nieto, the candidate of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) 38.21% of the vote, with 31.59% for leftist Andrés Manuel López Obrador of the Democratic Revolution Party (PRD), and 25.41% for Josefina Vázquez Mota of the conservative National Action Party (PAN). The small New Alliance party got 2.29%.

But nobody believes the official figures, which are regularly rigged. It is common knowledge that the PRI shamelessly bought votes and bribed TV networks for support. Agents of the PRI gave out free groceries, pre-paid gift cards and other gifts to voters. Accusations of vote-buying began surfacing in June, but sharpened later when people rushed to grocery stores on the outskirts of Mexico City to redeem pre-paid gift cards worth between 100 and 1500 pesos (80 to 110 US$). Many openly said they had been given the cards from PRI supporters before the elections in exchange for voting for the party.

A series of articles in The Guardian added to the controversy by publishing evidence that Televisa paved Peña Nieto’s path to the presidency by slandering his rivals and presenting blatant pro-PRI propaganda as news. The newspaper “El Universal” had already printed in advance its morning edition with Peña Nieto on the cover as the “winner.”

In the weeks before the latest polls a student-led movement, #YoSoy132, mobilized demonstrations and online protests against Peña Nieto’s links to the media giant Televisa, accusing both Peña Nieto and Televisa of manipulating both public opinion and state institutions. López Obrador has correctly called this a “national shame.” He said that at least five million voters had received either pre-paid store cards, cash, groceries, construction materials or appliances. The Economist comments:

“There were reports of voters in poor areas being offered upwards of 500 pesos ($38) to hand over their voting cards, which prevented them from casting their votes and perhaps enabled someone else to cast them instead. The PRI featured most often in such reports. A ban on political advertising after the end of the campaign on Wednesday was flouted by the Green Party, a formal ally of the PRI. The Greens illegally sent text-messages and recorded phone calls to many people (including your correspondent) on the day of the election, urging them to vote for their candidates”.

Full story at In Defense of Marxism

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