Mexico awaits ruling on vote; dissidents threatened

Andr茅s Manuel L贸pez Obrador of the left-populist Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) raised the stakes in Mexico’s electoral standoff July 26 by declaring himself “the president of Mexico.” Cesar Nava, a spokesman for candidate Felipe Calder贸n of the ruling National Action Party (PAN) dismissed the claim as “messianic.” (Seattle Times, July 27)

Forty-one million people turned out to vote, but Mexico’s fiercely disputed July 2 presidential election now sits with seven judges of the Federal Electoral Tribunal. The election is challenged by Lopez Obrador, who lost the official count by a hair but claims it was rigged. The magistrates, six men and one woman chosen and approved by Mexico’s Supreme Court and Senate, must balance the rival candidates’ demands and find a solution that gives credibility to the election and breaks the political deadlock. Lopez Obrador wants the Tribunal to order a vote-by-vote recount and is threatening civil disobedience and drawing hundreds of thousands of supporters onto the streets to press his demand. “The electoral process was plagued with irregularities and fraud,” he said this week.

Calder贸n, who won by less than 1 percentage point, insists the vote was “clean, free and democratic” and that the law only allows for recounts at individual polling stations with specific signs of irregularities.

Polls indicate some 35% of Mexicans believe the vote was rigged. The judges have nullified several previous elections, although never a presidential one. Outside the Tribunal’s offices, student supporters of Lopez Obrador recently held a hunger strike. A sign taped to the gates said: “We trust the tribunal. Don’t let us down.” (Reuters, July 27)

In recent weeks, the prominent Mexican writers Elena Poniatowska and Carlos Monsivais, who have been supporting demands for a vote-by-vote recount, as well as the film-maker Luis Mandoki, director of the documentary on Lopez Obrador 驴Qui茅n es el Se帽or L贸pez?, have received numerous threats and insults by telephone and e-mail. Poniatowska says several personal e-mails have called her a “pinche puta comunista” (damn communist whore). (La Jornada, July 26)

See our last posts on Mexico, the electoral crisis.