The outcome of Mexico’s presidential election, held on the 2 July, shows the deep crisis in the country’s political system.
Felipe Calderon of the ruling PAN (National Alliance Party) was announced winner with Lopez Obrador of the PRD (Democratic Revolutionary Party) in second place. The difference in votes is said to be about half a percent.
Obrador, who is seen as a champion of the poor and indigenous people, claims that serious electoral fraud occurred with thousands of votes “going missing”.
Last Saturday, he called an assembly of hundreds of thousands of supporters in the capital, Mexico City.
It would not be the first electoral fraud to take place in recent years. Many Mexicans recall the 1988 poll when left candidate Cuauhtemoc Cardenas was ahead until the computers used in the election mysteriously “shut themselves down”. When the system was restarted his right wing rival was declared the victor.
There is no question that the Mexican elite were troubled by Obrador’s campaign. He told voters he would put the poor before the rich and not be George Bush’s poodle. He was also identified with other left presidents recently elected in Latin America such as Hugo Chavez in Venezuela and Evo Morales in Bolivia.
The Mexican rich have prospered in recent years, enjoying the benefits of the North American Free Trade Agreement introduced ten years ago. The agreement has caused great suffering for Mexico’s poor, who face worsening poverty and exploitation.
Calderon, George Bush’s favoured candidate, represented political continuity and ran an incredibly aggressive and dirty campaign against Obrador.
Marco Velaquez, a Mexican activist, commented, “Calderon represents the big media monopolies, the multinationals and Washington.
“Before declaring the triumph of Calderon, PAN had already put its policies on the table - the privatisation of healthcare, more control of the media and repression.
“Today, democracy is in dispute and we have to defend an election where the majority voted for Obrador. There is considerable evidence of fraud, and irregularities in the electoral process.
“We must demand a recount of votes. We need to mobilise Mexican society and international public opinion to defend the vote. We demand a recount of the presidential election in Mexico, vote by vote.”
The people’s defiance
‘We are ready to do whatever is necessary. We are tired of the rich having everything and the poor having nothing.’
Belasario Cruz, farmer from Tabasco
‘If there’s no solution, there’ll be a revolution.’
chant on last Saturday’s protest
‘First there was one result and later on there was another. Of course there was fraud.’
Alberto Gallegos, chemical engineer
‘[There was] a clear indication that the data was manufactured... and does not stand a chance of passing as data originated at the actual voting.’
Jorge Lopez, physics professor who analysed the voting