The Socialist 13 July 2006 |
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Mexican presidential election:
Another stolen presidency?
Country threatens to erupt if the right steals election
HUNDREDS of thousands of presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez
Obrador's supporters rallied in Mexico City to demand a full recount of
the country's hotly contested presidential election. The Federal
Electoral Institute had declared Felipe Calderon of the ruling national
Action Party (NAP) the winner with 35.88% of the vote compared to 35.31%
for Lopez Obrador. George Bush immediately congratulated Calderon,
despite widespread fraud allegations. ALAN JONES from Socialist
Alternative (CWI, USA) explains the background to recent developments.
THE 2 July elections in Mexico were a bitterly polarised electoral
contest described by the New York Times as a contrast between "promise
and fear." The "promise" part represented the empty promises for jobs
and a decent life by the Harvard-educated, millionaire right-wing
candidate of the National Action Party (PAN) Felipe Calderon. The "fear"
was for the high anxiety of the Mexican and US ruling class over a
possible victory by the radical populist Lopez Obrador, candidate of the
Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD).
Obrador was ahead in the polls for months before the elections and
all exit polls indicated a lead for the PRD candidate. Yet, after the
election, and with three million votes reported "missing," both Obrador
and Calderon claimed victory.
On 5 July, a later partial recount showed Obrador again in the lead,
resulting in the Mexican stock market index falling 4% and the peso
plunging against the dollar because of the uncertainty and tension. In
the US and Mexican corporate media there were fears that there may be
clashes as the polarisation and anger against fraud threaten to explode.
History of fraud
THE EVENTS that followed the election of 2 July bear an eerie
resemblance to the presidential elections of 1988 when the left
candidate of the PRD Cardenas, was defeated by massive fraud after a
"computer collapse" and the award of the election to Salinas of the
corrupt PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party). Salinas, and after him
Zedillo and current president Vincente Fox of the PAN, went ahead with a
massive programme of privatisations and attacks on the living standards
of millions of Mexican workers and peasants while opening the country to
the plunder and exploitation of US capital through the North American
Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
Millions of displaced and impoverished Mexican peasants and workers
especially from the south had to emigrate internally to the new
factories in the maquiladoras or as undocumented immigrants in the
United States in order to survive. As a result of NAFTA, the real wages
of unskilled workers have further declined since the collapse of the
Mexican economy in the 1980s and Mexican workers are now facing mounting
wage pressure from China.
The imposition of Felipe Calderon as President would mean the
continuation of the same policies, which are threatening to cause a
The election took place as hundreds of thousands of miners, teachers
and other workers were staging strikes and demonstrations across Mexico.
The death of 65 coal miners in Coahuila state in February was followed
by an explosion of struggles by miners and metal workers demanding an
emergency wage increase, safe working conditions and an end to
STARTING IN May 2006, 70,000 teachers in the state of Oaxaca have
been on strike for higher wages. Following attacks by 1,700 riot police,
teachers - armed with sticks and stones - fought running battles and
eventually overpowered them. The movement in Oaxaca has broadened into a
popular rebellion. Meanwhile, hundreds of unions and community
organisations representing over 10 million workers are calling a
nationwide general strike for 28 July.
The mass support for the campaign of Obrador, was an indication of
the determination of the working class and the most oppressed to defeat
the neo-liberal policies. Lopez Obrador campaigned as a populist
adopting the slogan, "For the Good of Everyone, the Poor First."
Obrador pledged to renegotiate sections of NAFTA in order to protect
domestic producers from US agricultural imports. At the same time, he
has repeatedly made clear to business and banking groups that he can be
trusted to safeguard their interests and balance the budget.
A government led by Lopez Obrador would be a major irritant to George
Bush who has thus far only had to deal with the compliant right-wing
president Vicente Fox. His victory could possibly open the floodgates to
a new wave of struggles by the Mexican workers and peasants and will
have important repercussions north of the border on the Latino
population in the US especially over the issue of undocumented
immigrants. The remittances of Mexican immigrants in the United States -
approximately $18 billion a year - is now the second most important
source of foreign exchange, after oil, flowing into Mexico.
The only way to defeat the electoral fraud organised by the ruling
class and its operatives is for the independent unions and community
organisations that supported Obrador to call mass demonstrations across
Mexico, organise action committees and prepare for a general strike to
bring the country at a standstill. However, it is unlikely that Obrador
and the PRD will take such action as his programme hardly touches the
heart of the crisis in Mexico, ie capitalism.
LATIN AMERICA is in the midst of a continental revolt against the
governments and ruling elites which have relentlessly followed
neo-liberal free-market policies for more than a decade.
Over 215 million people - a staggering 41% of the continent's
population - are "living in poverty," while an additional 18% are facing
hunger. As a result there has been an explosion of mass opposition.
Struggles of workers, peasants, indigenous people, students and others
exploited by capitalism and imperialism have erupted in Chile, Peru,
Argentina, Colombia and many other countries.
In Venezuela and Bolivia mass social movements resulted in the
election of left populist governments that challenge US imperialism.