L-I: The Beans Begin To Spill About Coming Fixed Vote In MexicanElection

Tony Abdo aabdo at SPAMwebtv.net
Thu Jun 8 01:05:38 MDT 2000

Leaks are beginning to vaguely leak out, in both the US and Mexican
press, about the US sponsored fix of the upcoming Mexican presidential
election.     The fix is for Zedillo to end the Mexican PRI dictatorship
of more than 7 decades.     Vicente Fox of the PAN has already begun to
be declared a winner by 'consensus' in high US government circles.
All that is left, is for the official announcement to be made July 3 to
the Mexican people.
Zedillo finishing on high note
Clean election in July could seal Mexican leader's reformer status

By Laurence Iliff and Alfredo Corchado / The Dallas Morning News

MEXICO CITY - President Ernesto Zedillo goes to the United States this
week not asking for a multibillion-dollar bailout but riding a wave of
popularity at home and abroad on the eve of what's expected to be the
cleanest presidential election in Mexico's history.

Related story
 Zedillo's triumph

The "accidental president," as Mr. Zedillo was dubbed after the ruling
party's original candidate was assassinated in 1994, was not expected to
oversee the nation's democratic transition. With less than a month
before the July 2 election, the Yale-trained economist is nearing his
moment of truth: whether the electoral reforms he supported help end the
jinx that has enveloped several of his predecessors.

Mr. Zedillo's supporters insist his legacy will be distinct, and
analysts say that even if Mr. Zedillo leaves office considered a
mediocre leader, he'll be the most popular former president in three
decades, unencumbered by major scandals.

"History will be kind to President Zedillo," said James Jones, former
U.S. ambassador to Mexico. "He stood firm in the face of Mexico's
darkest hour and moved the country forward."

Mr. Zedillo will meet with business leaders and politicians in New York
on Thursday and President Clinton in Washington on Friday.
He shuns any talk of legacy, leaving that up to historians. "A statesman
should have goals he wants to achieve for his country,'' he said. "I
think the country has a long way to go."

A different finish
At the end of their terms and at the height of their popularity, the
four Mexican presidents before Mr. Zedillo promised, often to jittery
U.S. audiences, a clean transfer of power. A few months later, amid
cries of voter fraud, political violence or economic mismanagement, the
peso plummeted and the high-flying president crashed with it.

An example is Mr. Zedillo's immediate predecessor, Carlos Salinas de
Gortari, who was blamed for political violence and a peso devaluation.
He spends most of his time outside the country, and his image adorns
rubber "devil" masks sold on Mexico City street corners.

Despite the recent electoral reforms, opposition parties and democracy
activists have warned that Mr. Zedillo is stacking the deck for his
favorite in the contest, Francisco Labastida of the ruling Institutional
Revolutionary Party, or PRI, albeit through legal means.

They accuse the PRI and Mr. Zedillo's administration of a heavy-handed
campaign of linking welfare programs to the ruling party in an attempt
to generate badly needed support among Mexico's most vulnerable voters.

Mexican government officials angrily deny the allegations, saying Mr.
Zedillo simply continues to govern, much like Mr. Clinton. Still,
election protests or violence on July 3 could be costly for Mr. Zedillo.
"Zedillo's legacy won't be cemented until July 3," said political
analyst Primito Rodrmguez. "There's a lot at stake in this election not
just for Mexico, but especially for Zedillo himself."

What numbers say
A national poll by the Mexico City newspaper Reforma last week gave Mr.
Zedillo an approval rating of 67 percent. However, it also showed that
his office buys more media time to promote itself than any of the six
presidential candidates at the height of the campaign season.
The newspaper also said that Mr. Zedillo, on average, inaugurates nearly
$30 million an hour in public works projects as he crisscrosses key
electoral states.
A presidential spokesman denied that there were any connections between
the presidential campaign and the president's work.

Members of both the Washington-based National Democratic Institute and
International Republican Institute have expressed concerns about
campaign fairness and allegations of vote-buying by the PRI.

Both organizations, arms of the Democratic and Republican parties, are
sending large delegations of observers to ensure a clean and fair
electoral process.

"The upcoming vote is critical to Mexico's democratic development, which
comes at an important juncture in the country's history," said Sen. John
McCain, R-Ariz., chairman of the Republican group.

"Recent polls indicate that this is the most highly contested
presidential election in 71 years since the PRI took power," Mr. McCain
said in a prepared statement announcing that a 35-member delegation, led
by former U.S. Secretary of State
James Baker, will observe the elections.

Meanwhile, the Mexican Embassy in Washington is wasting no time in
dispelling doubts that the electoral process is anything but clean and
"Mexican elections are run by an independent citizen electoral
authority, and they're closely monitoring how the political parties
comply with the law," spokesman Josi Antonio Zabalgoitia said.

Not up for discussion
A White House official played down any suggestion that Mexico's
presidential election will even be a topic of discussion during Mr.
Zedillo's visit. The two leaders are expected to focus on bilateral
issues such as immigration, drug trafficking and the environment.

"Obviously, we know the elections are approaching, and I don't expect
that to be a topic of discussion because that's a matter for the people
of Mexico," said P.J. Crowley, spokesman for the National Security
Council. "We would not do anything that would be in any way seen as
interfering in the electoral process. There will be effective monitoring
by international observers as the election unfolds. It's not for us to
prejudge. Let's wait to see what their judgment is first."

Mexican officials echoed that view. But another U.S. official suggested
privately that given the recent electoral problems in Peru, Mr. Clinton
may seek some assurance that the Mexican elections won't be an issue of
"The issue is likely to come up," a U.S. official said. "But it will be
done in a very delicate manner."

To which a Mexican official responded: "It's very unlikely that any of
the two presidents will bring up the election subject during their
conversations because electoral processes in both countries are part of
their respective domestic affairs."

In a nutshell, said Delal Baer, chairman of the Mexico Project for the
Center for Strategic and International Studies, "Zedillo sure the heck
doesn't want Bill Clinton calling him on July 3 and asking him, 'What
happened, my friend?'"

Fox scenario
The flip side, a win by opposition candidate Vicente Fox, could
guarantee Mr. Zedillo's place in history as the man who brought
democracy to Mexico after seven decades of PRI rule.

Certainly among those hoping for a happy ending, no matter who wins in
Mexico, is Mr. Clinton. He came to Mr. Zedillo's aid after the peso lost
half its value three weeks after the Mexican leader took office Dec. 1,

Mr. Clinton did it with an international bailout package led by the
United States to the tune of $50 billion over the cries of Congress. So
far, the deal has paid dividends, with U.S.-Mexican trade more than
doubling, although immigration and drug trafficking remain perennial

Still, Mr. Zedillo has his critics. They say he has focused more on
macroeconomic improvement - lower inflation, higher foreign reserves -
than democracy, crime, Indians' rights or a variety of other pending

"In terms of politics, he was pretty passive, waiting until things got
serious before doing something about them," said John Bailey, professor
of government at Georgetown University, citing Mexico's ongoing crime
wave and a $100 billion bank bailout as two of the more obvious

"Politicians get paid to look around the corner, and he didn't do that
very much," said Mr. Bailey, who nonetheless sees Mr. Zedillo's
presidency as a success so far.
Indeed, Mr. Zedillo is close to getting a little respect after leaving
office, unlike the last four presidents.

"Zedillo," Mr. Bailey said, "could end up as a guy who could drive his
car and wave at people without them hissing or barking at him."

[ World | Dallasnews.com ]
)2000 The Dallas Morning News

Thank you, DMN.     Tony Abdo

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