Nobody was surprised, really, when Enrique Peña Nieto emerged "victorious" from Mexico's presidential elections, held July 1. When the Instituto Federal Electoral announced at 11:30 p.m. that night that EPN was the likely winner, with around 38% of the vote, I wasn't shocked -- just filled with dread.
After all, during his six years as governor of the Estado de México, EPN accomplished quite a bit:
With that kind of track record, I don't even want to think about what the next six years will bring. I am sure, though, that whatever EPN "accomplishes" as Mexico's next president-turned-dictator, he will provoke some serious misery. But let's not get ahead of ourselves -- EPN won't take office for several months.
So for now, we would do well to think about the lies, distortion, and violence surrounding the supposedly "democratic" elections held July 1.
Here are some reasons many mexican@s ya están hasta la madre:
Unheralded violence at the polls. I spent election night in Ecatepec, a city of 2 million outside Mexico City, in the Estado de México. Ecatepec was highly militarized on election night: soldiers guarded polling stations, helicopters flew low overhead, the municipal police was out in full force. But the military's presence on election day did little to keep organized crime (often with links to the PRI) away from the polls. The next morning, newspapers reported on armed robberies of ballot boxes, some of which resulted in the deaths of would-be voters. The picture below is from the state of Coahuila. Bonus points for getting the Yale reference.
Alarmingly prevalent electoral fraud. According to PRD candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador, of Mexico's 143,000 voting booths, 113,855 reported irregularities -- almost 80%.
Brutal repression. On election day, many attempted to report irregularities to the Instituto Federal Electoral (IFE). The federal government responded by stationing hundreds of riot police in front of the IFE offices:
As if police intimidation weren't enough, many of those who denounced electoral fraud have been disappeared. For instance, in the Estado de México, student activists from the movement #YoSoy132 were kidnapped, including a student who had recorded PRI members buying votes. And on Twitter, many say the spokeswoman of #YoSoy132, Andrea González, was kidnapped in Mexico City this week.
Media lies. In its election-day coverage, The New York Times said nothing substantial about the obvious and well-documented electoral fraud and the violence at many polling sites. Instead, they reported, "There were also reports of security problems at some sites," which hardly approximates the violent reality of election day. By neglecting to cover the PRI's serious manipulation of electoral processes, the New York Times left readers with the impression that the Mexican electorate democratically elected EPN. Ultimately, as a friend of mine pointed out, the international media has reported fairly accurately on the near-coup in Paraguay last month. But by continuing to portray electoral processes in Mexico as "democratic," the media is merely perpetuating a farce.
Obama. As the Mexican paper La Jornada reported, not only did Obama call EPN to congratulate him on his electoral "victory," but the White House issued a statement congratulating Mexicans on their highly democratic voting system: "una vez más, han demostrado su compromiso con los valores democráticos mediante un proceso electoral libre, justo y transparente." Mentiras, mentiras y más mentiras...
To close with a ray of hope, here are some photos from Monday's 15,000-person march in Mexico City denouncing the outcome of Sunday's elections.