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Mexico: Tens of thousands protest vote fraud, imposition of PRI candidate

[More coverage of Mexico at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal HERE.]

By Dan La Botz

July 8, 2012 -- New Politics -- Carrying signs denouncing fraud, tens of thousands of students and other voters marched through Mexico City on July 7 to protest what they see as the government’s imposition on the country of presidential candidate Enrique Peña Nieto of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). Peña Nieto received 38 per cent of the vote, compared to 32 per cent for Andrés Manuel López Obrador of the left-of-centre Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), and 25 per cent for Josefina Vázquez Mota of the conservative National Action Party (PAN). López Obador claims that the election was fraudulent and has called upon the election authorities to investigate claims of vote buying.

Students, however, have led the protests. In addition to the mass march in Mexico City, they also marched in smaller numbers in several other major Mexican cities, including an impressive demonstration by an estimated 7000 in Guadalajara on July 6. The protest was organised largely through social media by the “I am #132” movement which has dogged Peña Nieto for two months, criticising in particular his close ties to the powerful Televisa television network.

The Mexican Federal Electoral Institute (IFE) has declared Peña Nieto the winner, though final tallies are still not in. IFE says it is investigating alleged vote buying. Students carried signs reading "IFE: Institute of Electoral Fraud". The protest, after rallying in the Zócalo, Mexico’s national plaza, ended up at a wedding of television stars being broadcast by Televisa.

Imposition claimed in 1988 and 2006

The idea of the government imposition of a candidate resonates in Mexico where many believe that the government imposed candidates who actually lost the presidential election in 1988 and in 2006. In 1988, Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas may have actually defeated Carlos Salinas de Gortari who was declared the winner. Cárdenas told me in 1996 that he had not led a national movement to demand that his victory be recognised because he feared violence that might end in a bloodbath. Similarly, there is good reason to believe that Andrés Manuel López Obrador may have won the 2006 election, though the IFE declared Felipe Calderón to be the winner by a margin of 0.58 per cent of the vote. Protesting that decision López Obrador mobilised his followers who rallied in Mexico City by the hundreds of thousands and eventually 1 million blocking the city’s major thoroughfares, while leftist legislators attempted to block Calderón’s inauguration in a chaotic Congress, where representatives of the rival parties came to blows. Calderón was finally smuggled in by a back door and sworn in before Congress to the applause of the right and the chanting and jeering of the representatives of the left.

Vote buying scandal grows

The students protest came as the PRI’s alleged vote buying scandal continued to grow with well-substantiated allegations that the PRI had spent hundreds of millions of dollars (estimates range from $250 to $500 million) to purchase plastic gift cards worth approximately $7 each which were used by PRI operatives to buy votes. The PRI apparently bought the cards from Soriana, Mexico’s largest retail chain, and distributed them to voters in exchange for the promise to vote for Peña Nieto. The dispersal of so many cards led to long lines of customers at stores in some areas.

The PRI, which ruled Mexico from its founding in 1929 until 2000, is infamous for its political machine and for corruption. Throughout much of its history it ruled a one-party state where workers in government industries, public employees, workers in the private sector and peasants were taken to the polls to vote under the eyes of their employers and the political bosses. Soldiers’ ballots were sometimes filled out and cast by their officers. The PRI machine bought other votes with barbeque and beer or with promises of metal lamina for the roofs of concrete block houses and milk for children. The PRI claims to have become a modern and democratic party, but it seems to many that simply means that they use a plastic gift card with a magnetic strip rather than a taco and a bottle of beer to buy a vote.

PRI returned to power

By Dan La Botz

July 5, 2012 -- New Politics -- The PRI is back in power. Enrique Peña Nieto of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) has won the Mexican presidential elections with a plurality of 38 per cent of the vote, returning to power the party which ruled Mexico as an authoritarian one-party-state for decades. Peña Nieto defeated the left-of-centre Andrés Manuel López Obrador of the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) who got 32 perc ent of the vote and Josefina Vázquez Mota of the conservative National Action Party (PAN) who received about 26 per cent. For the Mexican left, the election results are a stinging defeat not only at the presidential level, but also in the congressional elections.

López Obrador, who claims to have won the last election, has not accepted the election results either and is asking the electoral authorities to investigate. Thousands of his supporters marched through Mexico City the day after the election, claiming that their candidate had once again been defrauded of his victory. López Obrador claims that Peña Nieto and the PRI violated spending limits; he argues that through fraud they have stolen 1 million votes. The Mexican electoral authorities have agreed to recount more than half the ballot boxes because of irregularities found in vote tallies. Peña Nieto won the election by more than 3 million votes according to the authorities. The PRD, however, won again the mayoralty of Mexico City with 60 per cent of the vote and won the governor’s elections in the states of Morelos and Tabasco. The PRD thus remains a political power in the country though it did not win the presidency and has a minority in the congress.

While López Obrador attributes his loss to his opponents’ violations of election law and fraud, his own decisions no doubt also had an impact. In 2006 the Mexican election authorities reported that he had lost by a quarter of a million votes and many believe he actually won; this time he lost by more than 3 million votes and no one but his most ardent followers are asserting that he was the winner.

Why did López Obrador lose in 2012? Perhaps it’s because he abandoned the more radical rhetoric of his 2006 campaign, which led the media to compare him to Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, and this time portrayed himself as a moderate reformer who would follow the example of Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva, the former president of Brazil. López Obrador sought this time around to win the confidence of the Mexican business establishment and of Mexico’s middle classes, while still holding on to his traditional base among working people, peasants and the poor. Did some of his potential voters lose confidence in a candidate who changed his identity from left to centre? Perhaps. In any case, the move to the right clearly failed to improve on his 2006 performance.

The future: a PRI – PAN alliance?

The PRI in power under Peña Nieto will not for the foreseeable future be in a position to recreate the one-party state that it was in the past. While final statistics are not yet in, the PRI will likely have little more than 240 seats in the 500-seat lower house. The PRI will only be able to rule by making an alliance with the PAN with which it shares a common economic program, and the PRI and the PAN together will have just enough votes to make it impossible for the PRD to block their program. Mexico’s former foreign minister, Jorge Castañeda, believes the outcome of the election will lead to cooperation between the PRI and the PAN on the basis of their common economic agenda. Under a Peña Nieto presidency and a PRI-PAN alliance, Mexico’s neoliberal policies will continue and will expand, with the country likely to see continued piecemeal privatisation of the petroleum industry and the passage of a labour law reform bill that would weaken trade unions. There is also, however, the possibility of political deadlock, an alternative that led to a fall in Mexican stock prices as the election results were reported.

The student movement, too little too late

Peña Nieto, who had the support of the powerful Televisa network and of the PRI’s powerful political machine, faced a rising challenge in the month before the election from a new student movement that criticised his links to the mass media and his record of political repression in Mexico State where he had been governor. The student movement expanded from the elite Ibero-American University, to the National Autonomous University of Mexico, and then to state university campuses throughout the country, raising its cry again money’s corrupting power in the media in ways similar to the American Occupy movement.

But the student movement, known as “I am #132", which grew rapidly and attracted attention from throughout the country, was still too little and too late to change the election victory for Peña Nieto and the PRI that had been predicted for months by the polls. The question now is, will the student movement that arose out of the 2012 presidential election be able to continue as a significant social movement once Peña Nieto takes power? Other student movements of the late 1960s and the mid-1980s had an important progressive impact on society at large, and this one may too if it can recover from the election hangover and tackle the society’s economic and social problems.

The PRI’s past

The Institutional Revolutionary Party has its origins in the Mexican Revolution. It was created in 1929 by President Plutarco Elías Calles as the party of government functionaries and transformed by President Lázaro Cárdenas in the late-1930s into a mass party of workers and peasants.

By the 1940s the PRI had become an authoritarian and corrupt party with a nationalist economic program; it oversaw the state banks and industries, encouraged private capital and used its control of the labour unions and peasant leagues to ensure labour peace. The “Mexican Miracle” of the 1950s and 1960s was based on the PRI’s policy of keeping wages down, though providing workers with subsidised health care, housing, food and fuel. By the 1980s, however, the PRI abandoned its nationalist economic program and adopted neoliberal policies to encourage foreign investment, open markets to free trade, cut the social budget, and weaken labour unions. Since the 1970s, the PRI had loosened its hold on the political process and by the 1980s there were growing political parties left and right.

When the PRI turned right in the 1980s, the nationalist wing, led by Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas broke off forming the Democratic Current and then a National Democratic Front, which also included the former Mexican Communist Party and other left groups. Cárdenas ran as the National Democratic Front’s candidate in 1988 and is widely believed to have won the election, but the PRI president Miguel de la Madrid and the electoral authorities declared Carlos Salinas de Gortaria the winner. Salinas then oversaw a vast privatisation of industry that transformed Mexico’s political economy. In the election which just took place, Salinas supported Peña Nieto, and some argued that Salinas will be the power behind the throne.

The PAN’s failure

In 2000 Vicente Fox, a Coca-Cola company executive, businessman and rancher, ran as the National Action Party’s candidate for president and won, ending over 70 years of rule by the PRI. Fox had received votes from both the right and left, from all of those who wished to end the long rule of the PRI. Fox oversaw the emergence of multi-party political democracy, but did little to change the economic direction of the country. Many were surprised to see him maintain the alliance with the country’s corrupt official unions. When Fox retired, he left to his successor Felipe Calderón the country’s continuing economic difficulties and its fundamental social problems. In this election, Fox declined to support the candidate of his own party, Vázquez Mota, and instead endorsed the PRI’s Peña Nieto as the best option for voters.

For the last six years, Felipe Calderón, also of the conservative PAN, has held office, pursuing a war against drug dealers that saw the deployment of 40,000 soldiers and thousands of police officers, widespread violations of human rights, almost 60,000 killed, 10,000 disappeared and thousands forced to leave their homes for other states. He has also presided over an economic crisis that saw annual per capita growth of less than 1 per cent throughout his term, with millions unemployed and a growing number of youth who could neither continue their education nor find jobs.

Real GDP growth for the last dozen years has averaged 2.3 per cent, low for a developing country. Some have argued that the terrible economic situation helped to drive tens of thousands of Mexicans to seek work in the illegal drug trafficking business. Calderón thus became tremendously unpopular with the Mexican people, making PAN candidate Vázquez Mota’s campaign an uphill battle. The people punished Calderón and the PAN by denying her their votes.

The left’s future

Mexico’s left, which invested so heavily in the rightward-moving López Obrador, must ask itself whether it made a mistake and might not have done better pursuing some other alternative. Lacking confidence in the Party of the Democratic Revolution, López Obrador created his own campaign organization called MORENA (Movimiento para la Renovación Nacional or Movement for National Renovation). MORENA became an umbrella for a variety of social movements and small left political parties who stood under it or just outside of it, anxious to find a candidate who could advance the left. Speaking to the left, López Obrador said he wanted “real change”, and the revolutionary left interpreted this to their followers as “regime change” that would restore democracy and create a popular political economy. The appearance of the student movement “I am 132” encouraged the left to believe that their time had come. The Mexican left thus embraced a rightward-moving populist, a strategy that in the wake of López Obador’s defeat leaves it disappointed and disoriented.

What is new and exciting coming out of the election is the new student movement. On July 4 in Guadalajara, one of Mexico’s largest cities but also generally a conservative one where the largest demonstrations by social movements, unions and the left seldom exceed 500 people, students using social media organized a 7000-person protest against Enrique Peña Nieto and the PRI. Something is happening among Mexico’s young people and they deserve to have options on the left besides populism; their demand for democracy and social justice needs to find expression in a revolutionary rejection of capitalism and a vision of democratic socialism. If the left is to offer it, it must critically examine its own illusions regarding the existing political system, its parties and its candidates.

[Dan La Botz is a Cincinnati-based teacher, writer and activist. He is the editor of Mexican Labor News & Analysis. He maintains a blog on Mexican politics HERE.]

 

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Mexico Still Far From Fair Elections

Mexico Still Far From Fair Elections

Mark Weisbrot

The Guardian Unlimited, July 9, 2012

See article on original website

The media rewrites history every day, and in so doing it often impedes our understanding of the present. Mexico’s presidential election of a week ago is a case in point. Press reports tell us that Felipe Calderón, the outgoing president from the PAN (National Action Party) “won the 2006 election by a narrow margin.”

But this is not quite true, and without knowing what actually happened in 2006, it is perhaps more difficult to understand the widespread skepticism of the Mexican people as to the results of the current election. The official results show Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) candidate Enrique Peña Neto winning 38.2 percent of the vote, to 31.6 percent for Andrés Manuel López Obrador, of the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) and 25.4 percent for Josefina Vázquez Mota of the PAN. It does not help that the current election has been marred by widespread reports of vote-buying. From the Washington Post:

“It was neither a clean nor fair election,” said Eduardo Huchim of the Civic Alliance, a Mexican watchdog group funded by the United Nations Development Program.

This was bribery on a vast scale, said Huchim, a former [Federal Electoral Institute] official. “It was perhaps the biggest operation of vote-buying and coercion in the country’s history.”

It may not have been enough to swing the presidential race, but for those who know what actually happened in 2006, the voters’ lack of faith in the results is completely understandable. The official margin of difference between Calderón and López Obrador of the PRD, who was also the PRD’s nominee in the 2006 election, was 0.58 percent. But there were massive irregularities. The most prominent, which was largely ignored in the international press, was the “adding-up” problem at nearly half of the polling places. According to Mexico’s electoral procedures, each polling place gets a fixed number of blank ballots. After the vote, the number of remaining blank ballots plus the number of ballots cast are supposed to add up to the original blank ballots. For almost half of the polling places, this did not happen.

But it got worse than that. Because of public pressure, the Mexican electoral authorities did two partial recounts of the vote. The second one was done for a huge sample: they recounted 9 percent of the ballots. But without offering any explanation, the electoral authorities refused to release the results of the recount to the public.

From August 9 to 13, 2006, the Mexican electoral authorities posted thousands of pages of results on the web, which included the recounted ballot totals. It was then possible, with hundreds of hours of work, to piece together what happened in the recount and compare it to the previous results. At the Center for Economic and Policy Research, we did this for a large random sample (14.4 percent) of the recounted ballots. Among these ballots, Calderón’s margin of victory disappeared.

This may explain why the electoral authorities never told the public what the recount showed, and why the authorities refused to do a full recount – which would have been appropriate for such a close election with so many irregularities. A full recount could easily have reversed the result, or found the election to be completely indeterminate.

At that time I was struck by the lack of interest in the media as to either the “adding up” problem, or the results of the recount. Both of these results were readily available on the web. Although it was laborious to tally the recount data, any news organization with a couple of thousand dollars could have hired some temporary labor to do the job. But none were interested.

López Obrador made the mistake of claiming that the 2006 election was stolen without demanding that the recount results be released – possibly because he didn’t trust that these would be any more accurate than the original count. He did call attention to the adding-up problem, but the media ignored this and mostly portrayed him as a sore loser.

Both the 2006 and 2012 elections were manipulated in other ways. A study from the University of Texas shows that there was significant media bias against López Obrador in 2006, and that it was much more than enough to swing a close election. About 95 percent of broadcast TV is controlled by just two companies, Televisa and Azteca, and their hostility toward the PRD has been documented.

In the current presidential campaign, the media duopoly ran into criticism for not broadcasting nationally the first presidential debate on May 6. After student protestors were dismissed in the media as outside agitators, a protest movement against the TV media was launched. It was called “Yo soy #132” (I am # 132), after 131 of the initial protestors produced a viral video showing their student i.d.’s, i.e. to indicate that they were genuine students.

John Ackerman rightly criticized President Obama for congratulating Peña Nieto as the winner before the official results were in. This was similar to the Bush administration’s efforts to aid Calderón in 2006, which began immediately after the vote. The Calderón campaign to establish his “victory” as a fait accompli was modeled after the Bush team’s successful exploitation of its “home field advantage” in Florida in 2000, as chronicled in Jeffrey Toobin’s excellent book, “Too Close to Call.”

As I have noted previously, it is not because Mexico has a right-wing electorate that it has gone against the trend of the last 14 years in Latin America. One country after another (Brazil, Venezuela, Argentina, Ecuador, Bolivia, Uruguay, Paraguay, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua and others) has elected and re-elected left governments in response to Latin America’s worst long-term economic failure in more than a century (1980-2000); and although the rest of the region has done better over the past decade, Mexico has not.

Some have pointed out that the other left presidents in the Americas also faced hostile, biased media, and nonetheless won. This has certainly been true in all of the above-named countries – some, such as Bolivia, have even worse media than Mexico. But Mexico is, as the saying goes, “so far from God and so close to the United States.” It is one thing to portray a leader of Ecuador or Bolivia as “another Hugo Chávez,” as the media campaigns there and elsewhere did. These candidates mostly laughed it off. But when the media in Mexico does the same to López Obrador -- as it has been doing since 2006 – it has another meaning. Mexico shares a 2,000 mile border with the United States and sends 80 percent of its non-oil exports north. Not to mention the 12 million Mexicans living in the United States. Mexico’s right-wing media is in a stronger position to boost an effective scare campaign.

From Greece to Ireland to Mexico, that is how the elite maintains its grip on power in failing economies -- not by offering hope, however tenuous, of a better future -- but by spreading the fear that any attempt at a positive alternative will bring Armageddon.

So long as Mexico’s right controls the TV media – and can get some extra insurance from manipulating the electoral process as needed – Mexico will have a very limited form of democracy, and it will also fall far short of its economic potential.

DEMAND THE CANCELLATION OF THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION!

MEXICO:

POLITICAL ORGANIZATION OF THE WORKERS AND PEOPLE (OPT) (*)
"For national liberation and social emancipation"
UNITY OF ALL ORGANIZATIONS TO DEMAND THE
CANCELLATION OF THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION!

(Unity of Morena, Yo Soy #132, Proclama, the social organizations, etc.!)

Enrique Peña Nieto was "created" by the media dictatorship, by U.S. imperialism, and by the oligarchy of Mexico.

They have sought to impose Peña Nieto in order to privatize Pemex [national oil corporation] and the CFE [Federal Electricity Commission], suppress labor rights, destroy social security, expand the so-called "war on drugs" -- in addition to dismantling the nation.

The elections of July 1 have profoundly altered the political landscape in the country. We have entered into a period of mass protests against the electoral fraud. This is creating a new political opening through which the movement for democracy is developing, placing front and center the question of the government.

Peña Nieto's designation as a "winner" of the election is the result of a process that is both illegitimate and illegal. Throughout his campaign, huge financial resources were devoted to buying votes (mainly through redeemable grocery-store gift cards), the manipulation of election polls, the use of the mass media, and outright coercion.

Immediately after the election, the ruling National Action Party (PAN) and current President Felipe Calderón recognized the election of Peña Nieto. A few hours later, Barack Obama, on behalf of the U.S. government, congratulated Peña Nieto for the election results provided by the IFE [Federal Electoral Institute].

Even then, Peña Nieto only obtained 24% of the votes of the total registered voters. [Left-wing candidate] Andrés Manuel López Obrador claims that 5 million of those votes were bought.

U.S. imperialism and the Mexican oligarchy have "created" Peña Nieto to impose the counter-reforms that Calderón could not complete or carry out: privatize Pemex and CFE, destroy the edifice of labor rights and social security, as well continue with the "war on drugs" to increase the violence and chaos and thus turn over the wealth of the nation to the foreign corporations.

And to accomplish this aim, Peña Nieto has just hired the former director of the Colombian police, General Oscar Naranjo, who is an agent of the U.S. government and who has a long record of repressing social movements, in particular trade unions, in Colombia.

RESISTANCE TO FRAUD
The youth have risen up in the struggle for democracy. Mass marches on June 10 and 30, and again on July 7, expressed the sentiments of millions of workers and people who voted for López Obrador or who abstained or cast spoiled ballots. This struggle began with a movement against Peña Nieto.

Young people are focusing their outrage and that of an entire nation around the slogans of "For a Mexico Without the PRI!" - "Down With Peña Nieto!" and " Democracy, Democracy!" And they have characterized the IFE as the "Electoral Fraud Institute."

For his part, López Obrador has not recognized the results of the elections provided by the IFE. The pressure of the masses and of López Obrador's own supporters has continued to grow around the demand to cancel and invalidate the election.

Given this situation, as the Political Organization of the Workers and People (OPT), we hereby launch this appeal for the broadest unity to fight for the cancellation of the presidential election of 2012.

We propose to struggle for the unity of all the fighting political and trade union forces because we are facing the regime of the PRI and the PAN, the oligarchy, and U.S. imperialism, which has already shown its capacity for aggression with the recent coups in Honduras and Paraguay.

We urgently need a broad and united national mobilization of Morena [the political movement of López Obrador], Yo Soy #132 [the new youth mass movement], the trade unions, Proclama, and the social organizations, for the cancellation of the presidential election.

The strength displayed by the young students in their demonstrations these recent weeks is extremely significant. It reflects the deep discontent that exists among the working masses and the oppressed across the country. But these actions are not sufficient in themselves to stop the policies of imperialism and the oligarchy. This requires a much larger force. This is why the struggle to unite all the fighting forces around the concrete demand of "Cancel the Elections!" is of such tremendous importance.

For our part, we also want to affirm that the demands raised by the youth express the aspirations of all the population. The people no longer trust the institutions of the regime of the PRI and PAN. It is therefore necessary to put forward the perspective of fighting for new institutions.

In this sense, the new political situation has opened a process of struggle for a Constituent and Sovereign National Congress and a government responsible to that Congress -- a government that can provide a solution to the pressing demands of working people and can restore the country's sovereignty.

It all depends on the mobilization of workers and their organizations -- of students and peasants -- around demands that flow from the struggle for "national liberation and social emancipation."

-- Political Organization of the Workers and People (OPT) -- July 14-15, 2012

- - -

(*) The OPT is a multi-tendency Organizing Committee for a mass workers' party in Mexico that was launched in 2011 at the initiative of the Mexican Electrical Workers Union (SME).

* * * * * * * * * *

Interview with Luis Vasquez, member of the Socialist Workers Organisation (OST)

[Note: The following interview is reprinted from issue no. 82 (new series; no. 451 old series) of the weekly ILC International Newsletter, July 13, 2012]

QUESTION: Following the elections that took place Sunday, July 1, in Mexico, the Federal Electoral Institute (IFE) declared that the candidate of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), Enrique Peña Nieto, was elected with 38% of the votes. His left-wing opponent, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, candidate of the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD), got 32% of the votes. As for Josefina Vazquez Mota, the candidate of the National Action Party (PAN), the party in power since 2000, she came in third with 25% of the votes.

Lopez Obrador has denounced a "fabricated result." What is there to this allegation?
LUIS VASQUEZ: First of all, Peña Nieto only got the vote of one out of four registered voters. Nearly 40% of the registered voters did not go to the polls. About 2% of the total votes cast were blank or invalid ballots. The massive abstention, the blank and invalid votes, and the large vote for Lopez Obrador were all the expression of the people's profound rejection of the Mexican regime and its institutions.

Then, before they had even finished counting the votes, the IFE and current President Felipe Calderon quickly recognised Peña Nieto as the "duly elected president of Mexico." There was a mad rush by everyone to convince the population that this time there had been no fraud, that everything was "legal." This included U.S. President Barack Obama, who spoke about a "free, just and transparent electoral process." Everyone fears the mobilisation of the Mexican people.

In reality, the "votes" for Peña Bieto were the product of a gigantic operation organised before the elections: agreements passed with the main TV station, Televisa; the illegal distribution of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of redeemable gift cards at the Soriana grocery stores and building materials in exchange for the promise to vote for Peña Nieto; huge sums of money for the PRI campaign, far exceeding the established campaign funding limits, mostly derived from drug laundering and financial malfeasance (Monex); and repeated doses of violence. The IFE, whose councillors are nominated by the same institutional parties, were not content to just close their eyes; they added their own manipulations during the vote count.

QUESTION: All the media are talking about the PRI's "new face." What do you think of this?

LUIS VASQUEZ: A new face? Peña Nieto has announced that he intends to continue Calderon's policies and his "reforms": VAT on medicines and on staple goods; drive to privatise the national oil company, Pemex; destruction of the national electricity company (CFE); generalisation of casual work; wages based "on merit"; destruction of collective-bargaining agreements; multiplication of the obstacles to union action and the liquidation of social protection institutions (IMSS, ISSSTE and the Ssa). And to impose these anti-worker policies, Peña Nieto has launched an appeal for "national unity".

He also wants to bring the country into a "greater integration with the United States", i.e., to make Mexico a colony of the United States. This "greater integration" can only increase the violence and the chaos caused by the "war on drug trafficking" and the Merida Plan, a military-police agreement imposed by the U.S. administration.

QUESTION: How have the people and the youth reacted to these election results?

LUIS VASQUEZ: Millions of people took part in the Lopez Obrador campaign rallies to assert their will to chase the PAN from power. Unions, like those of the miners, the electrical workers, the telephone workers, and sections of the primary school teachers, took to the streets, shouting: "Not one vote for the PRI or the PAN!" All of them are outraged over the results.

Now the youth have organised huge demonstrations with this slogan: "Out with Peña Nieto!"and "For a Mexico Without the PRI!"

QUESTION: But Lopez Obrador came in second. Does fraud explain everything?

LUIS VASQUEZ: Lopez Obrador is also, without a doubt, partly responsible for this result. He disappointed his supporters by speaking of a "loving Republic" instead of denouncing the institutions and the criminal anti-democratic regime. He also disappointed them when during the so-called debates he did not answer Peña Nieto's threats against the Mexican nation. Instead of taking a stand for a break with Calderon's policies -- that is, for a break with the PAN and the PRI -- he put forward the vision of "returning to a more serene Mexico." This vision was in total contradiction with the will to fight of the youth, who have risen up because they've had enough of the PRI.

QUESTION: What is the position of your organisation in terms of what needs to be done next?

LUIS VASQUEZ: We consider that the existing institutions in Mexico represent the interests of institutional parties, of the oligarchs in the country and of the foreign corporations.

This is precisely what the workers and people of Mexico want to do away with. For that they need candidates who call to fight for new institutions, for a sovereign constituent congress made up of true representatives of the people, to affirm policies of national sovereignty and to take the measures that address the needs of the people in terms of jobs, housing, education and health.

We are fighting so that workers of the cities and the countryside, and the youth, can have an anti-imperialist party at their disposal to put an end to the regime and its policies.

A first step in this direction has been taken with the setting up of the Political Organisation of the Workers and People (OTP) at the initiative of the Mexican Union of Electrical Workers (SME), an initiative that has already been supported by thousands of workers and youth. The Socialist Workers Organisation (OST) is a component, an organised member, of this OPT.

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