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From The Socialist newspaper, 14 September 2006


Calderon confirmed as president but opposition protests continue

MEXICO'S HIGHEST electoral tribunal has, after more than two months of deliberation, decided that the presidential elections held on 2 July were won by the right-wing candidate Filipe Calderon of the PAN (Partido Accion Nacional). With this decision, the judges are endorsing the massive electoral fraud that took place in the country.

Karl Debbaut

The mass movement lead by the opposition candidate and Mexico City's former mayor, Andrés Manuel Lopéz Obrador (popularly known as Amlo), demanded a full recount of all the votes. However, the country's top electoral court only allowed for a partial recount of 9% of the votes.

This shrank Filipe Calderon's advantage from 240,000 votes to a mere 233,831 out of 41.6 million votes cast. Nonetheless, Judge Alfonsina Berta Navarro Hidalgo, a member of the Electoral Tribunal, dismissed calls for a full recount, saying "there are no perfect elections".

Conspiracy of silence

The scale of the fraud is still being revealed and is reaching ever-higher levels. According to Amlo's campaign, the sample recount revealed that in 3,500 polling stations 119,000 votes couldn't be verified. In 4,000 other polling stations 61,000 ballots allocated to election officials cannot be accounted for. These figures emerged after only a partial recount, rather than the full recount being demanded by Amlo and his supporters.

The movement in Mexico in protest at the electoral fraud has been the biggest in the country's history. A tent city has been erected in Mexico City by supporters of Amlo. The protesters seem to have been inspired by the so-called 'Orange revolution' in the Ukraine in December 2004.

However, unlike those events, the protests in Mexico have met with a deafening silence in the international press. Many news agencies are putting out the message that 'all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds' and that the 39% of Mexicans who believe there was fraud are suffering from delusions.

The people in the tent city are very clear why there was fraud and why they are protesting.

The Times (8/9/06) carried a quote from a 47-year-old teacher, Joel Cruz de la Torre, who said: "I am here to defend democracy from the fraud that was perpetrated by Fox". He was registering to take part in elections for a parallel government, a government which will be the focal point of more opposition action in the next few months. He declared what many Mexicans feel: "Our representatives don't represent us - they represent the rich, they do not respond to the 60% of Mexicans who are poor".

Grinding poverty means that one-in-five Mexicans do not eat properly. In the last six years, six million Mexicans have left their country to look for a better life in the United States. A report by the United Nations suggests that the money sent back by people living in the US to Mexico is the country's second biggest source of income after oil.

A parallel government

The horrendous living conditions of the Mexican masses are in sharp contrast with the life of splendour and luxury the ruling elite and the corrupt political establishment enjoy.

The ruling class feared Lopéz Obrador, but not because he is a revolutionary socialist or an anti-capitalist. Obrador was kept out because of the fear that he could act as a lightning rod and guide for more radical action and new waves of class struggle.

While the ruling class will do everything, including using violence against the protesters, to try to get a Calderon government in place, it looks like more powerful social movements and explosions are on the agenda.

A number of international commentators have changed tack and instead of calling for a full recount are now asking Calderon to "take some of the leftish planks from his rival, refashion them in a way that makes them acceptable to his own followers and turn them into policy".

These analysts are proposing the creation of a means-tested national healthcare system as a temporary concession to the masses in the hope that this will avert the rising tide of class struggle.

Lopéz Obrador has announced the creation of a parallel "government of the people to rival that of the political mafia and white-collar criminals", calling a mass rally on 16 September, Independence Day.

While this 'parallel government' could give direction to the struggle against the electoral fraud, it would need to build a real structure based on the trade unions, organisations in the communities and representatives of the poor. Local, democratically elected committees would have to be built in workplaces, schools and universities to direct the struggle and to discuss the demands and aims at every stage.

The massive protests have already demonstrated the potential strength of the movement, but now we need forceful action, including the organising of a one-day general strike, as the next step in the movement. This needs to be connected with steps to begin building a real party of workers and peasants based on a revolutionary socialist programme for the overthrow of capitalism.

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In The Socialist 14 September 2006:

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