Mexico: thousands protest “imposition” of PRI

Mexico City residents responded to the country’s July 1 presidential and legislative elections with a massive and apparently spontaneous demonstration on July 7 repudiating the official results. Thousands marched from the Angel of Independence to the Z贸calo plaza to protest what they called the “imposition” of Enrique Pe帽a Nieto, the presidential candidate of the centrist Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). They charged his electoral victory was the result of fraud, vote buying and biased publicity by the media.

The protesters’ targets included the giant television network Televisa, which reportedly has taken money over the years to promote Pe帽a Nieto’s political career, and Organizaci贸n Soriana, Mexico’s second-largest retailer; the PRI reportedly gave out thousands of Soriana gift cards to voters if they agreed to mark their ballots for Pe帽a Nieto.

Some of the marchers took their protest to the Regina Coeli church, where comedian Eugenio Derbez and actor and singer Alessandra Rosaldo were being married in a wedding transmitted by Televisa. “Pe帽a didn’t win, Televisa helped him!” they chanted, and “Fraud, fraud, fraud, fraud.” “Turn around, the news is here,” they told news photographers, who had their cameras pointed toward the entrance to the church. “Sold-out press!” the protesters added.

Center-left candidate Andr茅s Manuel L贸pez Obrador, who came in second, has rejected the official results, but he hasn’t called on his supporters to protest, as he did after his very narrow loss in the official tally in 2006. Apparently there was no need. Opposition to Pe帽a Nieto has been growing since May, when a student protest movement known as #YoSoy132 (“I’m number 132”) emerged. “This isn’t for L贸pez Obrador, it’s for the nation,” read one sign at the July 7 march, which reportedly was organized through social networks and by word of mouth. Student movement members supported the march but said they didn’t organize it. (La Jornada, July 8)

There have also been smaller local demonstrations. On July 14 a little group of people stood at the entrance to a Soriana store in Mexico City’s Tlalpan delegaci贸n (borough) with signs and leaflets charging that “five million votes were bought, and Soriana helped with half of them.” The group quickly grew larger, and when the number was around 100, the protesters pushed inside the store chanting: “From Chetumal to Tijuana, don’t buy in Soriana” and “If there’s imposition, there will be revolution.”

In another Soriana store in Tlalpan, protesters filled shopping carts with merchandise and then left them in the store, to symbolize “the purchases that would have been made if Soriana hadn’t participated in vote buying.” (LJ, July 15)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, July 15.

See our last post on the Mexican elections.