Sun, Jul 08, 2012 - Page 7 News List

Activists call for march protesting Mexican election

RALLY THE TROOPS:The results of the presidential contest have inspired mass protests over allegations of vote-buying, electoral fraud and even calls for revolution

AFP, MEXICO CITY

An indigenous woman from Oaxaca, Mexico, holds a sign reading: “Do you believe in Mexico’s Federal Electoral Institute (IFE)? Neither do I,” while standing before a line of traffic police outside the IFE in Mexico City on Friday.

Photo: Reuters

Activists opposed to the victory of Enrique Pena Nieto in Mexico’s presidential election called for a national “megamarch” yesterday to protest the results.

Pena Nieto, from the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), decisively won the Mexican presidential election last Sunday, a result that the country’s independent election authority confirmed on Friday.

Leftist candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who came in second, claimed Pena Nieto is guilty of vote-buying, enjoyed media coverage biased in his favor and broke campaign spending limits.

Lopez Obrador, from the leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), held protests that virtually paralyzed Mexico City for more than a month when he lost the last presidential election in 2006 by less than one percent and claimed fraud.

However, Lopez Obrador, who lost this time by more than six points, said he is not behind the Saturday march. The event is being organized online and via flyers handed out in the street.

Octavio Aguilar, a senior campaign official for candidate Josefina Vazquez Mota of the ruling National Action Party, estimated that the PRI spent up to US$500 million getting Pena Nieto elected, shattering the legal campaign spending limit of US$30 million.

“That’s is the problem with this democracy — the one who has the most money buys the election,” Aguilar said.

The fraud was not at the ballot box, but in the river of cash the PRI used to pay for everything from gift cards to campaign paraphernalia to years of favorable television coverage, he said.

The PRI was synonymous with the Mexican state as it governed for 71 years until 2000 using a mixture of patronage, repression, rigged elections and bribery.

“We do not want Pena Nieto or his oppressive government — Revolution!” said a post on a Facebook page dedicated to the march.

The Facebook page claims it was put up by a “group of Mexican citizens tired of electoral fraud and the theft and unmeasured abuse of our national resources.”

The site includes plenty of pro-Lopez Obrador and anti-PRI pictures.

Similar comments are found on Twitter under different hash tags.

Students of the #YoSoy123 protest movement, which have organized several Mexico City marches in the past weeks, said they are not behind the Saturday protest.

The Mexico City metro area has a population of 21 million and is a bastion of the country’s political left, so gathering a large crowd for an anti-PRI march is hardly a challenge.

A seemingly impromptu march on July 2, one day after the election, protesting Pena Nieto’s tainted victory gathered more than 25,000 people, according to city police.

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