By John Parker
Published Jul 19, 2006
Sunday, July 16, was not a day of rest in Mexico City. On the contrary, it was a day of mass action reflecting the determination of the Mexican people to demand a basic democratic right: to have their votes for a president counted honestly.
Some 1.5 million people marched and rallied in the large Zócalo square in the city’s downtown in support of Andrés Manuel López Obrador, candidate of the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), and protested what they call fraudulent presidential elections held on July 2.
The mobilization was so large that more than 10 video screens were placed along the wide Avenida Reforma, one of the most important of Mexico City, so that those unable to reach the Zócalo could see the event and hear Obrador, who announced that he would put together a citizens’ committee to define the actions to be organized. One measure proposed by the politician was to reinforce the citizens’ camps outside the country’s 300 electoral districts, where the ballots are being safeguarded.
Four days after the election, the candidate of the ruling National Action Party (PAN), Felipe Calderón, had been declared the winner by a margin of less than 1 percent. It was a statistical miracle. Earlier, when over 70 percent of the vote had been counted, López Obrador had led with 36.86 percent against Calderón’s 34.37 percent.
However, miraculously for Calderón, the 70 percent already counted somehow did not represent an established statistical trend. Another trend then began. What makes this new trend even odder is the fact that each percentage increase of votes for Calderón mirrored a percentage decrease in votes for López Obrador, making this a unique and impossible statistical feat.
A representative of the PRD explained, “The vote was recalculated by the whole federal government—a technically assis ted state election. That means the executive branch took control of the democratic process using all the resources, all the power, all the relationships and all the fear they inject to the people. They said that if they don’t continue [to head] the government, everything will be lost for the people. You’ll lose everything if you vote for López Obrador.”
In addition to the electoral abnormalities, many López Obrador supporters also point to the amount of foreign corporate aid, particularly from the U.S., that Calderón received—which is a violation of Mexican law regarding election financing. Some of that aid came through support by multi-national corporations established with the pro-business, pro-rich media.
“About 80 percent of the media was for Calderón,” said the PRD spokesperson.
An active campaign of mudslinging found fertile ground with some of these media outlets. To highlight this, some march participants carried mock televisions with a devil coming out of them. Flyers were also prevalent at the march announcing a recently begun international boycott. The boycott targets corporate sponsors of the television networks most biased against López Obrador. Brands included in the boycott are Dell, Coca-Cola, Nescafé and Colgate.
The struggle to keep the Mexican people from being disenfranchised has received support in the U.S. A delegation that included members of the March 25th Coalition, including the International Action Center, traveled here for the march and rally.
At a press conference on July 18, delegation member Javier Rodríguez, one of the initiators of the May 1st boycott in Los Angeles that brought out 1 million people, said:
“I’m here because this is my country. I was born here and, although as a child I emigrated to the U.S., I was old enough to have formed my nationality. It is also a principle of international solidarity to give support to people fighting injustice. ...
“When we have a candidate, a Mexican leader, who speaks for justice for the majority and for the poor and whose landmark theme is ‘The poor will be first,’ the Mexican bourgeoisie, the ruling class in alliance with international capital, will not want to give up their privileges and the continued savage exploitation of the Mexican people, whose numbers living in poverty have reached an estimated 70 million.”
In this regard, the movement for justice in Mexico, in anticipation of further attacks by the ruling class, is forming a national committee to resist if the votes are not recounted on a vote-for-vote basis. The committee is being coordinated by the PRD. The marches and rallies will also continue.
With an understanding that the mobilization of working and poor people is primary in this democratic struggle, López Obrador at Sunday’s event announced another rally and march for July 30.
The Federal Electoral Tribunal, the highest electoral court in Mexico, has until September 6 to announce how it intends to respond to the fraud.
The U.S. corporate media has expressed the alarm the U.S. ruling class feels over López Obrador’s growing movement. “There are growing fears among conservative commentators that López Obrador’s mass rallies and claims of voter fraud will lead to violence,” wrote the Washington Post July 17.
The reality, however, is that the Mexican masses have carried out many forms of protest over the decades. Fewer and fewer alternatives to struggle remain in a country where imperialism does not even allow the basic democratic right to a fair election.
It remains to be seen how far this current phase in the struggle for change in Mexico will go. Should the electoral court rule in September or even earlier that Calderón won the election, will the movement subside or continue? Will a general strike be called shutting the country down? This would take the call for “a day without a Mexican” to a new level.
The countless U.S. corporations that operate and dominate in Mexico today would be dealt a tremendous blow if that happened.
The Washington Post also wrote that, “Juana Jiménez Torre, 63, who said she walked more than 80 miles over six days to attend the rally, thrust her arms in the air as López Obrador spoke. The mother of 11 said she makes less than $4 a day in the bean fields outside her hometown of San Pablo Citaltepec, southeast of Mexico City. “We can’t take this,” she said before the rally began. “We have to fight.”
Teresa Gutierrez, national co-director of the International Action Center told Workers World that the IAC “will launch a major campaign to demand that the people’s will be respected in Mexico and that the U.S. should get out of Mexico.” She invited readers to visit www.iacenter.org for more information.