L.A. Activists Claim Fraud in Mexico's Presidential Election: Downtown Rally Planned for Saturday
Obama may have embraced Enrique Peña Nieto as Mexico's new president-elect this week (even before all the votes had been counted; awkward), but a coalition of immigrants in Los Angeles won't be so easily convinced.
"No queremos a Peña Nieto ni a su gobierno opresor," reads an L.A. rally flyer.
"We're very concerned by a growing list of situations... that seem to indicate that there were many illegal actions" in the election process, says Juan Jose Gutierrez with the National Regeneration Movement (MORENA) in Los Angeles.
Peña Nieto's "victory," which many are claiming was a result of election fraud...
... marks a comeback of the old Party of the Institutional Revolution -- and, according to some L.A. activists, a continuation of the status quo.
Peña Nieto is "going to continue to have this very pro-neo-liberal policy," says Mike Prysmer, a recent graduate of Cal State Northridge. "It's the status quo in Mexico, and it's responsible for the severe rise in poverty. This is the path that [Peña Nieto] is going to keep Mexico on."
Gutierrez, with the org MORENO, says he expects at least 250 protesters to show up this Saturday for an anti-Peña Nieto march in MacArthur Park:
For months, led by the Binational Front of Indigenous Organizations (FIOB) and the National Regeneration Movement (MORENA) in Los Angeles, activists have been urging Angelenos to help get out the vote for Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the new president-elect's Leftist opponent.
According to FIOB.org, they've been gathering at La Placita Olvera and MacArthur Park to hold "information brigades" and urge locals to "call their relatives to remind them of the importance of exercising their right to vote."
But now that the vote has been tallied, MORENO (along with the rest of the world) is questioning the legitimacy of Mexico's democracy on a whole. A fascinating article by the Daily Beast this week detailed some reasons for concern:
The Mexican people are more stunned than excited by Enrique Peña Nieto's apparent victory in Sunday's presidential election. No one has taken to the streets to celebrate the return of the old Party of the Institutional Revolution (PRI). To the contrary, thousands of youth congregated at the Revolution Monument in downtown Mexico City to protest against the "imposition" of Peña Nieto through media manipulation, vote-buying, and ballot-tampering. Meanwhile, waves of people who sold their vote to the PRI on Sunday in exchange for gift cards flooded local supermarkets on Monday to cash in on their payments.
... Elections are nothing new in Mexico. The country's distinct brand of authoritarianism, or "perfect dictatorship," according to Mario Vargas Llosa, has always used elections to gloss over its public image. The infamous 19th-century dictator Porfirio Díaz won eight elections between 1877 and 1910. The first leader of the Mexican Revolution, Francisco I. Madero, did not take power by force but through elections. Since 1934, Mexico has held presidential elections like clockwork every six years, even during the worst moments of authoritarian politics.
Because the race between Peña Nieto and Lopez Obrador was so much closer than usual -- the former won by 6.5 points -- Mexico's Federal Electoral Institute has agreed to recount some of the votes.
However, according to Reuters, only 54 percent of polling stations will be reviewed, because Mexican law stipulates that "a recount can only be requested at a polling station where there is a gap of less than 1 percentage point between the two leading candidates, or for other 'inconsistencies' that could include hard-to-read ballots."
Still, the Lefties march on. Saturday's "megamarcha" will begin at 11 a.m. in MacArthur Park, scheduled to coincide with a similar action in Mexico City at 3 p.m. their time.