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Tens of Thousands Protest Mexico's New President | The Nation

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Allison Kilkenny

Allison Kilkenny

Budget wars, activism, uprising, dissent and general rabble-rousing.

Tens of Thousands Protest Mexico's New President

Protesters from the Yo Soy 132 movement, also dubbed the “Mexican Spring”, took to the streets this weekend to protest what they call a corrupt election that resulted in the PRI, Mexico’s centrist party, winning control of the government.

At least 32,000 protesters marched through Mexico City chanting slogans like “Peña Out” and “Fraud, Fraud” to contest the election results Sunday, accusing president-elect Enrique Peña Nieto, a member of the PRI, of electoral fraud.

Protesters carried signs reading, “Winning by cheating is not winning at all and is illegal” and “You launder money, we are cleaning our consciences.”

“The people have woken up. The people realize that the PRI violated the elections,” said Luis Martinez, a 25-year-old engineering student from Mexico City, to the Chicago Tribune.

“Mexico wants a country that is honest and democratic,” protesters Marlem Munoz told the AP.

The Indypendent’s Marta Molina reports that many international elections observers call these elections “some of the most fraudulent” they have ever seen, due to the “high number of irregularities, abuses and illegalities committee before, during and after election day.”

For his part, the Democratic Revolution Party’s Andrés Manuel López Obrador pointed out that the election was not portrayed fairly in the media and that the constitution was violated due to the vast sums of money that the PRI spent on media coverage. He added that he would “wait until the ballot counts were finalized” on July 4 to state his position.

Hours before the first preliminary announcement, Mexican citizens gathered in front of the IFE denouncing their disenfranchisement due to a lack of ballots. “How can they be saying that Mexico has a president if I’m a Mexican citizen and they didn’t let me vote?” asked Miguel, from Playa del Carmen, around midnight in Mexico City’s Zócalo. He was unable to cast his ballot even though at 9 in the morning he had been in line to exercise his right to vote.

At the beginning of election day, many citizens went to observe the polling stations and report any type of irregularity. The Yo Soy 132 movement took on the job of compiling people’s complaints about possible electoral fraud. They have classified them into four categories: electoral crimes, polling station irregularities, use of violence and intimidation of citizen observers.

At a press conference this July 5, Yo Soy 132 showed clips of videos that show people being given prepaid cards — either 100 or 500 pesos ($10 or $50) — for supermarkets like Soriana, as well as being grouped together in trucks to vote as a bloc. By July 3, the Yo Soy 132 Observer Commission had received 1,100 reports of alleged irregularities taking place during the elections, 635 of the reports from citizens. Out of those, 325 were accusations of vote-buying, and the rest referred to irregularities at the polling stations and party propaganda being posted on the election’s eve. Most of these irregularities are blamed on the PRI.

Demonstrators within the Yo Soy 132 movement have expressed frustration with the “monopolization” of Mexican politics and media, including the fact that media companies Televisa and TV Azteca control 95 percent of Mexico’s TV market.

Protesters have dubbed Televisa a “factory of lies,” and accuse the PRI of having won the election by vote-buying and an aggressive PR campaign waged largely via the country’s TV giant.

This isn’t the first time Peña Nieto has been accused of corruption. In his books and articles, Proceso journalist Jenaro Villamil asserts that as governor, Peña Nieto gave millions to Televisa in advertising contracts in exchange for receiving exposure on the network.

The president-elect denies these allegations.

Peña Nieto secured 38.2 percent of the vote against the challenger, leftist candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who won 31.6 percent.

Some protesters are calling for the independent Federal Electoral Institute to review the election results, and Lopez Obrador has filed a legal complaint calling for the results to be thrown out, according to the AP.

“We should continue organizing and fighting to get the country that we want, but first we must regain our dignity, become indignant and transform this country,” said Eduardo, a UNAM student at the Yo Soy 132 camp at the Monument to the Revolution.

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