Looking South: Organized and Passionate Activism
By Michael Collins on 9/3/2006, 10:56pm PT  

Guest blogged by Michael Collins

Andres Manuel
Lopez-Obrador
“AMLO”

It is a pleasure to be here at The BRAD BLOG. Many thanks to Brad Friedman, Paul Lehto, Winter Patriot, and Emily Levy, to name those I know, for their show of courage, intelligence, and patriotism in the California 50th Congressional District recount case. Sunshine is a great tonic.

Why does Mexico matter?

Mexico matters because the people and leaders knew election problems were coming and they did something about it. They protested in massive numbers, again and again. The Mexican people are offering the largest resistance to election fraud in modern history. Think of the demonstrations in the Ukraine, Belarus, the Georgia Republic, or any other post election protest. Over a period of 15 days, there were three Assemblies sponsored by Lopez-Obrador and the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD). These demonstrations attract over a million people (in a nation of 100 million). The corporate media tried to downplay the crowd size with Bloomberg News failing to mention a 1.1 million estimate it got on July 16 from police authorities. These are vibrant, involved people who work with their leaders, particularly Presidential candidate Lopez-Obrador, to develop plans and fend off attacks by the ruling party.

Mexico matters because the people and leaders refused to give up when the system failed to give them a real recount. The independent election institute tried to pass off a Calderon victory without investigating the numerous and substantial allegations of election fraud. For example, the institute tried to announce a victory by President Vincente Fox’s hand-picked candidate, Calderon, until an audience member pointed out ballots that they failed to count --- at least 2.5 million of them. That type of "error" is rarely an error; rather, it shows bias and intent to deceive. The electoral tribunal resisted but was ultimately pressured into a recount of 9% of the vote. The tribunal then refused to order a total recount of the paper ballots even though it found that 130,000 were either missing or invalid --- in only 9% of the precincts! The projected total for 100% of the precincts would be over 1.3 million ballots. Yet the full recount failed to materialize.

A politician comfortable with the people.

Even with these disappointments, the people didn't pack up and go home. Citizens occupied key parts of the city, parked themselves in front of foreign banks and other key facilities, and set up camp in the streets vowing to stay until a recount of "every ballot in every precinct" was completed. With each insult to democracy, Obrador and the PRD responded. When the ruling government made plans to install Calderon, Obrador announced the creation of a parallel government run by PRD due to the problem of legitimacy. Fox and Calderon are playing checkers against Obrador’s fast-paced game of chess.

The demonstrations derive from real outrage on the part of the Mexican people. Months prior to the election, the Fox government showed their fear of Obrador’s popularity when Fox tried to prosecute Obrador on what was widely viewed as a trumped-up charge. The net effect would have been disqualification from holding office! That prosecution failed miserably. The anti-democratic forces represented by the Bush-allied Fox government were not finished.

During the election, President Fox ran media advertisements attacking Lopez-Obrador, a clear violation of Mexican campaign law. Fox was censured for doing this and had to cease and desist. There were also reports of huge sums of government money being diverted to governors to create a "commercial vote," votes for cash or benefits. When the votes were being counted, they were reported to a supposedly "independent" election institute.

After examining evidence form the election, Professor James K. Galbraith of the University of Texas concluded his analysis with these findings: (a) Obrador started out 126,000 votes in the hole (to Calderon's even start); (b) this error was never corrected; and (c) at the end of the night "adjustments" were made to make it appear Calderon won. There is an active community of academics in Mexico who are providing analyses demonstrating this absurdity.

This will sound familiar. Calderon's brother-in-law wrote the software program that tabulated and reported votes for the "independent" election institute. The brother-in-law denied this but Mexico's press actually investigates these things and forced him to admit his involvement by producing contracts his company had with the institute.

There's much more that you won't hear about in the corporate media. The New York Times called it a "normal election" and that sentiment was echoed throughout the American press. Just yesterday, Cicy Connelly of the Washington Post dismissed the numerous instances of fraud as "flimsy" evidence on the basis of just one DC-based academic. They are without shame.

What are the lessons for us? Be prepared to fight fraud. Prior to the election many activist groups armed themselves with documentation strategies to capture fraud as it occurred. When you know it's fixed, stand up and protest. The casual forgetting of 2.5 million votes, the statistical problems with the winning candidate's in-law-authored tabulation software, and the dirty tricks to knock Obrador out of the race before it started all served as warnings. The intended victims were not about to be victimized. They prepared and protested immediately. They were told to be mature about the process and expect cheating. When that happened, they upped the ante and began massive protests. Now they say loudly, in unison, "We do not consent" as they form parallel social and governmental structures. They've have had enough!

They've had enough. When will we reach that point? A study of their courage, strategy and tactics is well worth our time. As we do that, it is important to speak up, share information, and spread the word --- the Mexican people and their leaders are the heroes of democracy.

The journalists to watch on election issues are Al Girodano on the 9% Recount – Massive Fraud and Chuck Collins & Jushua Holland. Also, see The Mexican People: Heroes of Democracy by this author (Spanish & English).

Millions protesting fraud at the first Assembly.
Photo: Erasmo Lopez

The interaction between leaders and the crowd are common. From the third Assembly.
Photo: Exparta