[News] History is What Comes Next - Mexico Splits in Half

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Wed Jul 12 18:29:11 EDT 2006


July 12, 2006

History is What Comes Next

Mexico Splits in Half: the Election Hits the Streets


A full week after the most viciously contested 
presidential election in its modern history, a 
Florida-sized fraud looms over the Mexican 
landscape and the nation has been divided almost 
exactly in half along political, economic, geographical and racial lines.

Mexico has always been two lands ­ "Illusionary 
Mexico" and "Profound Mexico" is how sociologist 
Guillermo Bonfils described the great divide 
between rich and poor. But now, should it be 
allowed to stand, right-winger Felipe Calderon's 
severely questioned 243.000 vote victory over 
left-wing populist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador 
(AMLO) will split the country exactly in half 
between the industrial north and the 
impoverished, highly indigenous south with each 
winning 16 states ­ although the southern states 
won by Lopez Obrador, who also won Mexico City by 
a million votes, constitute 54% of the population.

Moreover, the disputed election pits an indignant 
Indian and mestizo underclass that believes AMLO 
was swindled out of the presidency by electoral 
fraud against a wealthy white conservative 
minority that controls the nation's media, its 
banks, and apparently, the Federal Electoral 
Institute (IFE), Mexico's maximum electoral 
authorities. Lopez Obrador charges the IFE and 
its president Luis Carlos Ugalde with 
orchestrating Calderon's uncertain triumph.

At a raucous July 8th rally that put a half 
million supporters in Mexico City's vast Zocalo 
plaza, the political heart of the nation, Lopez 
Obrador called upon his people to demand a 
complete vote by vote recount of the results. 
Speaking from a flatbed truck set up in front of 
the National Palace, the official seat of the 
Mexican government, the fiery, former Mexico City 
mayor characterized President Vicente Fox as "a 
traitor to democracy" and for the first time at a 
public meeting uttered the word "fraud", accusing 
the IFE of rigging the election to favor his opponent.

Indeed, fraud was the central motif of the 
mammoth meeting. Large photos of IFE president 
Luis Carlos Ugalde slugged "Wanted for Electoral 
Fraud" were slapped up on central city walls and 
tens of thousands of protestors waved home-made 
signs dissing the IFE official with such colorful 
epithets as "No To Your Fucking Fraud!" 
Throughout the rally, (which was billed as a 
"first informative assembly"), the huge throng 
repeatedly drowned out Lopez Obrador's 
pronouncements with thunderous chants of "Fraude 
Electoral!" At times, AMLO seemed on the verge of 
tears at the outpouring of support from the sea 
of brown faces that pressed in around the 

The gathering in the Zocalo signaled the kick-off 
to what is sometimes called "the second election 
in the street"; a mass effort to pressure 
electoral officials into a ballot-by-ballot 
recount that Lopez Obrador is convinced will show 
that he was the winner July 2nd. The IFE has 
resolutely resisted such a recount.

AMLO, a gifted leader of street protest, is 
always at the top of his game when he is seen as 
an underdog battling the rich and powerful and 
the next days will be heady ones here. This 
Wednesday (June 12th), the left leader is calling 
upon supporters in all 300 electoral districts 
across Mexico to initiate a national "exodus" for 
democracy that will converge upon the capital on 
Sunday, July 16th for a mega-march that may well 
turn out to be the largest political 
demonstration in the nation's history. Indeed, 
AMLO already set that mark in April 2005 when 1.2 
million citizens surged through Mexico City to 
protest Fox's efforts to bar the leftist from the 
ballot ­ the president dropped his vendetta three days after the march.

But Lopez Obrador and his Party of the Democratic 
Revolution (PRD) will not just do battle in the 
streets. Evidence of wide-spread ballot box 
manipulation in a third of the 130,000 polling 
places (including ballot-stuffing and duplicate 
numbers in thousands of them), malfeasance in the 
reporting of district totals to the IFE, 
inexplicable cybernetic confabulations in both 
the preliminary count or PREP (`3,000,000 mostly 
AMLO votes were removed) and the final tabulation 
in the districts, are being presented to the 
nation's top electoral tribunal (code-named the 
TRIFE) by Lopez Obrador's battery of attorneys in 
an effort to persuade the seven justices that a 
hand recount is the only way to determine who 
will be the next president of Mexico. Such 
recounts have recently been conducted in close 
elections in Germany, Italy, and Costa Rica as 
well as in Florida 2000 until ordered shut down by the U.S. Suprime Court.

Felipe Calderon and the PAN and Ugalde's IFE 
consider AMLO's demands to open the ballot boxes 
an "insult" to the "hundreds of thousands of 
citizens" who were responsible for carrying out 
the election. "The votes have already been 
counted - on Election Day" Ugalde upbraids Lopez Obrador.

The TRIFE is an autonomous judicial body with 
powers to annul the presidential election ­ it 
has annulled gubernatorial elections in Tabasco 
(AMLO's home state) and Colima and invalidated 
results in entire districts because of electoral 
flimflam in recent years. Lopez Obrador and the 
PRD have also petitioned Mexico's Supreme Court 
to invalidate the election because of Vicente 
Fox's apparently unconstitutional meddling on 
behalf of Calderon, and this reporter has learned 
that AMLO is considering calling upon all PRD 
elected officials not to take office December 1st 
if the ballots are not recounted, a strategy that 
could trigger constitutional crisis.

Despite the uncertainty about who won the July 
2nd election, the White House and Ambassador Tony 
Garza, a Bush crony, have been quick to 
congratulate Felipe Calderon for whom they 
exhibited an undisguised predilection during the 
campaigns ­ President Bush actually called the 
right-winger from Air Force One and Garza has 
been lavish in his praise of the much-questioned 
performance of the IFE as proof of "a maturing Mexican democracy."

The U.S. embassy has a track record of 
intervening in Mexico's presidential selection ­ 
Ronald Reagan recognized Carlos Salinas as the 
winner of the stolen 1988 election within 96 
hours of the larceny. In 1911, U.S. Ambassador 
Henry Lane Wilson signed off on the assassination 
of Mexico's first democratically elected 
president Francisco Madero, to whom Lopez Obrador has often compared himself.

Most of the U.S. Big Press has followed in 
lockstep with the White House ­ the Los Angeles 
Times, Chicago Tribune, and Washington Post all 
expressed editorial satisfaction at Calderon's 
coronation based on the results of the admittedly 
manipulated preliminary count. The New York 
Times, however, which 18 years ago, after 
free-marketeer Carlos Salinas stole the 
presidency from leftist Cuauhtemoc Cardenas, 
called that tormented proceedings "the cleanest 
election in Mexican history", this time around 
was more cautious, voting for a ballot by ballot 
recount before extending its benediction to the winner.

As tens of thousands of AMLO's supporters, "the 
people the color of the earth" Subcomandante 
Marcos names them, march across the Mexican 
landscape on their way up to the capital to 
demand electoral justice, invoking scenes of the 
great movement of "los de abajo" (those from down 
below) during Mexico's monumental 1910-1919 
revolution, the country holds it breath.

In Mexico, the past has equal value with the 
present and the memory of what came before can 
sometimes be what comes next. These are 
history-making moments south of the Rio Bravo. 
North Americans need to pay attention.

A shortened version of this piece appeared on the Nation.com.

John Ross is in Mexico City waiting to see How It 
All Turns Out so that he can write the epilogue 
to his latest opus "Making Another World 
Possible--Zapatista Chronicles 2000-2006" to be 
published in October by Nation Books.

The Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 863-9977
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