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Latin America, Mexico

¡Fraude! Leftists protest PRI victory in Mexico

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador may have lost Mexico’s July 1 presidential election at the ballot box, but that didn’t stop supporters of the leftist candidate from claiming fraud. While the margin of victory for the Institutional Revolutionary Party’s Enrique Pena Nieto was so wide that the man widely known as AMLO could not claim ballot-box stuffing, he did claim there was a massive scheme to pay voters to cast ballot for PRI candidates. The charges are reasonable, even likely, but are nearly impossible to prove.(See Leftist candidate rejects results-JKGlobe).

AMLO and his supporters claimed that the PRI, among other things, handed out tens of thousands of department store charge cards in exchange for votes. They also complained about what they said was slanted news coverage, especially from Mexican media giant Televisa.

One week after the election I covered a giant rally protesting Pena Nieto’s victory in Mexico City. The march began at the iconic Angel de la Independencia, marched down the Paseo de la Reforma and ended up in the Zocalo, the giant main plaza. (See Anti-PRI march).

Pena Nieto may have won the election, but the fraud claims undermine his legitimacy. This debacle could be avoided if there were a run-off vote — that way the victor will have won by the majority, not just the plurality, of votes. (See EPN-Legitimacy-Questions).

Mexican election authorities confirmed Pena Nieto as president-elect on August 31. AMLO rejected the results, but several members of his leftist coalition — most notably those elected to office in the vote Lopez Obrador says was tainted — disagreed. Days later Lopez Obrador announced he was leaving the leftist coalition to form a political movement focused on young people. The breakup, at least in public, was amicable.

Electoral issues aside, neither Pena Nieto nor Lopez Obrador, nor either of the other two presidential candidates, had fresh ideas while on the campaign trail about handling the country’s  ongoing drug war.

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About Carlos Hamann

Washington D.C.-based writer and editor

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