[Marxism] The great Mexican election theft

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Fri Aug 11 21:37:28 MDT 2006

(BELOW THIS: AMLO'S eloquent NYT op-ed column in today's edition.)

Le Monde diplomatique (Paris)/ August 2006

The great Mexican election theft 
By Ignacio Ramonet

The election was a clear case of fraud on a massive scale, as the
president of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, agreed,
while the 25 European Union foreign ministers expressed “grave
concern”. Indeed the Netherlands foreign minister declared: “It is
important that we convey in the clearest possible terms the concern
of the European Union and member states over the result of the
presidential election”.

Reporters without Borders noted that that this election “followed
four years of continuous and unprecedented degradation of the press
in the country”.

Prominent figures in Washington, among them Colin Powell, Henry
Kissinger and Zbigniew Brzezinski, affirmed that the US could not
recognise the official results. The National Democratic Institute,
chaired by former secretary of state Madeleine Albright; Freedom
House, chaired by James Woolsey, former head of the CIA; the American
Enterprise Institute, of which former president Gerald Ford is a
moving spirit; the Open Society Institute and its founder and
chairman George Soros, all made accusations about massive
manipulation and called for economic sanctions. President Bush’s
special envoy, the chairman of the Senate foreign relations
committee, Senator Richard Lugar, also declared openly: “It is
apparent that there has been a concerted and forceful programme of
election day fraud and abuse enacted with either the leadership or
cooperation of governmental authorities.”

Perhaps you don’t remember reading any of these reactions to the
recent presidential elections in Mexico? That’s because none of the
eminent people or institutions I mentioned said a single word about
what just happened in Mexico. The quotes are perfectly authentic but
were actually made about the presidential elections in Ukraine on 23
November 2004 (1).

The international community and the usual organisations devoted to
the defence of freedom that have been so active in Serbia, Georgia,
Ukraine and more recently in Belarus, have been notably silent about
the electoral coup conducted before our eyes in Mexico (2). Imagine
the global outcry if this election had been held in Venezuela and the
victor, by the slightest margin of 0.56%, had been Hugo Chávez.

There were two main candidates in the Mexican election on 2 July:
Felipe Calderón of the ruling Catholic rightwing National Action
party (PAN), provisionally declared by the Federal Electoral
Institute to be the winner, and Andrés Manuel López Obrador of the
moderate leftwing Democratic Revolutionary party.Long before the
campaign got under way, it was clear to President Vicente Fox (PAN)
and the ruling authorities that López Obrador and his programme to
end poverty must be beaten, by fair means or foul. Attempts were made
to discredit him in 2004 by secret videotapes broadcast on the
government-backed Televisa and TV Azteca channels, but without

In 2005, on the absurd pretext that a hospital approach road had
failed to comply with building regulations, he was charged, found
guilty, locked up and declared unfit to stand for election. Faced
with massive demonstrations of support for him, the authorities were
finally forced to restore his rights.

But the derogatory propaganda continued through the campaign,
reaching alarming proportions (3). Latin American oligarchs and the
US administration were panic-stricken, since the left was taking over
almost everywhere, in Venezuela, Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, Chile
and Bolivia, as it once had in Cuba.

In this context, victory for López Obrador (if it is victory: the
electoral court will deliver its verdict on 6 September) would have
serious geopolitical consequences, which is something that Mexican
bosses, the mass media and Washington want to avoid at all costs,
even if it means sacrificing democracy.

However, López Obrador and the Mexican people may still have
something to say on the subject.

(Most of the capitalist media of the United States have endorsed the
theft of Mexico's presidency by Calderon-Fox. The Wall Steet Journal
and the Bush administration have been really crude about this, but a
slight glimmer of progress can be noted when the presumptively real
winner -- in my opinion, at any rate -- gets to have a column in the
New York Times. Congratulations to the Times for publishing this.)

August 11, 2006
Op-Ed Contributor
Recounting Our Way to Democracy

Mexico City

NOT since 1910, when another controversial election sparked a
revolution, has Mexico been so fraught with political tension.

The largest demonstrations in our history are daily proof that
millions of Mexicans want a full accounting of last month’s
presidential election. My opponent, Felipe Calderón, currently holds
a razor-thin lead of 243,000 votes out of 41 million cast, but
Mexicans are still waiting for a president to be declared.

Unfortunately, the electoral tribunal responsible for ratifying the
election results thwarted the wishes of many Mexicans and refused to
approve a nationwide recount. Instead, their narrow ruling last
Saturday allows for ballot boxes in only about 9 percent of polling
places to be opened and reviewed.

This is simply insufficient for a national election where the margin
was less than one percentage point — and where the tribunal itself
acknowledged evidence of arithmetic mistakes and fraud, noting that
there were errors at nearly 12,000 polling stations in 26 states.

It’s worth reviewing the history of this election. For months, voters
were subjected to a campaign of fear. President Vicente Fox, who
backed Mr. Calderón, told Mexicans to change the rider, but not the
horse — a clear rebuke to the social policies to help the poor and
disenfranchised that were at the heart of my campaign. Business
groups spent millions of dollars in television and radio advertising
that warned of an economic crisis were I to win.

It’s my contention that government programs were directed toward key
states in the hope of garnering votes for Mr. Calderón. The United
Nations Development Program went so far as to warn that such actions
could improperly influence voters. Where support for my coalition was
strong, applicants for government assistance were reportedly required
to surrender their voter registration cards, thereby leaving them

And then came the election. Final pre-election polls showed my
coalition in the lead or tied with Mr. Calderón’s National Action
Party. I believe that on election day there was direct manipulation
of votes and tally sheets. Irregularities were apparent in tens of
thousands of tally sheets. Without a crystal-clear recount, Mexico
will have a president who lacks the moral authority to govern.

Public opinion backs this diagnosis. Polls show that at least a third
of Mexican voters believe the election was fraudulent and nearly half
support a full recount.

And yet the electoral tribunal has ordered an inexplicably
restrictive recount. This defies comprehension, for if tally sheet
alterations were widespread, the outcome could change with a handful
of votes per station.

Our tribunals — unlike those in the United States — have been
traditionally subordinated to political power. Mexico has a history
of corrupt elections where the will of the people has been subverted
by the wealthy and powerful. Grievances have now accumulated in the
national consciousness, and this time we are not walking away from
the problem. The citizens gathered with me in peaceful protest in the
Zócalo, the capital’s grand central plaza, speak loudly and clearly:
Enough is enough.

In the spirit of Gandhi and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., we
seek to make our voices heard. We lack millions for advertising to
make our case. We can only communicate our demand to count all the
votes by peaceful protest.

After all, our aim is to strengthen, not damage, Mexico’s
institutions, to force them to adopt greater transparency. Mexico’s
credibility in the world will only increase if we clarify the results
of this election.

We need the goodwill and support of those in the international
community with a personal, philosophical or commercial interest in
Mexico to encourage it to do the right thing and allow a full recount
that will show, once and for all, that democracy is alive and well in
this republic.

Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the mayor of Mexico City from 2001 to
2005, was a candidate for president in 2006, representing a coalition
led by his Party of the Democratic Revolution. This article was
translated from the Spanish by Rogelio Ramírez de la O.

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