Electoral Politics

Mexican Leftists Swarm Capital in Election Protest

Cyntia Barrera

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) — A massive crowd marched through Mexico City on
Sunday to back a leftist who claims he was robbed of victory in a fiercely
contested presidential election and is demanding a vote-by-vote recount.

At least 100,000 protesters [police finally estimated 2.4 million, twice the size of the July 16 rally, and the largest in Mexican history, Ed.] swarmed toward the central Zocalo, one of the
world's largest squares, where Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador was to rally his
supporters for a campaign of civil disobedience.

"Lopez Obrador, hold on, the people are rising up," supporters chanted on
Sunday, many dressed in the bright yellow of his leftist Party of the
Democratic Revolution, or PRD.

Mexico was plunged into a political crisis by the close July 2 election,
which saw ruling party conservative Felipe Calderon beat Lopez Obrador by
just around 244,000 votes out of 41 million cast.

Lopez Obrador, an austere former mayor of Mexico City who campaigned on
promises to help Mexico's poor with ambitious welfare and infrastructure
programs, claims the result was rigged against him.

"The elections were filthy," said Maria Teresa Priego, a 57-year-old city
government employee. "We are here to support a humble man, a hard-working

It was the third mass protest in the last three weeks, and many expected it
to be the biggest.

The crowd grew steadily as it approached the Zocalo, which holds well over
100,000 people and was once the center of the Aztec empire. It is still the
heart of modern Mexico, home to the National Palace and the capital's main


Lopez Obrador says vote counts were fiddled at more than half the country's
roughly 130,000 polling stations. He is challenging them before Mexico's
highest electoral court, and says he will only accept the result if there
is a recount.

While stressing his protests will stay peaceful, Lopez Obrador upped the
ante last week by declaring he was the country's legitimate president and
warning his supporters had plenty of energy for more protests.

Critics accuse him of holding the country to ransom with threats of civil

However large the latest protest, it is unlikely to directly influence the
seven electoral court judges who have until August 31 to decide whether
there is a case to reopen ballot boxes.

Their choices range from throwing out Lopez Obrador's case and declaring
Calderon the winner, to ordering a partial or full recount or even
annulling the election and calling for a repeat.

An annulment is thought highly unlikely and, without it, the court must
formally declare Mexico's president-elect by September 6.

Calderon insists the vote was clean and that no recount is needed. While
his party's lawyers are fighting the PRD at the electoral court, he is
trying to pull support from other opposition parties for reforms he plans
to push through once he takes office in December.

[Additional reporting by Catherine Bremer.]

As Mexico Awaits Judges' Ruling, The Writing Is On The Wall And In The

AMLO Presidente!

John Ross, CounterPunch

MEXICO CITY — The day before Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO), the
peppery left leader who insists he is the winner of the July 2 election
here, summoned over a million Mexicans to the great Zocalo plaza to lay
out plans for civil resistance to prevent right-winger Felipe Calderon
from stealing the presidency, this reporter marched down from
neighboring Morelos state with a group of weather-beaten campesinos the
color of the earth.

Saul Franco and his companeros farmed plots in the village of
Anenecuilco, the hometown of revolutionary Emiliano Zapata who gave his
life to defend the community's land from the big hacienda owners. "It
is our obligation to fix this fraud and kick the rich out of power,"
Saul explained. "If Zapata was still alive he would be with us today"
the 52 year-old farmer insisted, echoing the sentiment on the
hand-lettered cardboard sign he carried.

But although Saul and his companions admired and supported Lopez
Obrador, they were not so happy with AMLO's party, the Party of the
Democratic Revolution or PRD. "We had a PRD mayor and things went badly
and we lost the next time around," remembered Pedro, Saul's cousin.
Indeed, many PRD candidates are just made-over members of the
once-ruling (71 years) Institutional Revolutionary Party or PRI that
have climbed on Lopez Obrador's coattails to win public office. In 57
per cent of all elections the PRD has won, the party has subsequently
failed to win reelection.

Electoral Fraud and Rebellion in Mexico

Roger Burbach

Over half a million people took to the streets of Mexico City on
Saturday to protest the fraudulent election of Felipe Calderon.
Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the real winner of the presidential
election, told the huge crowd, "the elections were fraudulent from
the start," adding the incumbent president, Vincente Fox "has
betrayed democracy."

The reason Fox and his National Action Party (PAN) pulled out all the
stops to steal the election is quite simple — they are desperately
afraid of the growing class rebellion by Mexico's poor and oppressed.
The campaign slogan of Lopez Obrador was straight forward: "For the
good of all, the poor first." In a country where almost half the
population lives below the poverty line Lopez Obrador pledged to
provide a stipend to the elderly and health care for the poor.
Millions of jobs will also be created, particularly by undertaking
large construction projects to modernize Mexico's dilapidated
transportation system. He also promised to renegotiate the North
American Free Trade Agreement with the United States, particularly
the clauses that allow the importation of cheap subsidized grains
that undermine Mexico's peasant producers.

Anonymous Comrade writes:

"Why American Liberalism Is Impossible"

John Chuckman

I heard an interview the other day with Peter Beinart who has a new book called The Good Fight: Why Liberals – and Only Liberals – Can Win the War on Terror and Make America Great Again. Apart from a slight nausea induced by a toothy Richard Beymer smile offering reassuring platitudes, there was a sense of both déjà vu and ennui, and the interview only succeeded in reinforcing my gloomy conviction that there are virtually no liberals left in America.

You cannot be a liberal in any meaningful sense of the word and talk about winning a war on terror. It is a ridiculous inconsistency and a revealing one. When someone representing himself as a liberal feels he must appeal to Americans in these terms, it tells us a lot about the state of that nation’s values, just as it did when Michael Moore announced he supported that arrogant, perfumed generalissimo, Wesley Clark, for president.

Mexico Election Vote Count Begins Today
Under Cloud of Uncertainty

Electoral Commission's Mistakes Undermine Credibility of the Election

Center for Economic and Policy Research

The credibility of Mexico's electoral process was
thrown into question on Tuesday morning when the head of Mexico's
Federal Electoral Institute (IFE), Luis Carlos Ugalde, acknowledged
that as many as 4 million votes had not been counted in the
preliminary vote count that began after the polls closed on Sunday.

Mr. Ugalde said some 2.6 million votes were set aside "because the
poll reports were illegible or had other inconsistencies," and another
estimated 600,000 ballots "might not have reached his offices to be
included in the preliminary count" (New York Times, "Vote-by-Vote
Recount Is Demanded in Mexico," July 5, 2006) [
]. According to the IFE's preliminary results, 827,317 votes – another
2 percent of votes cast – were nullified (see here).

The total number of votes not counted is thus, according to the IFE,
more than 4 million, or nearly 10 percent of all votes cast. This
would be equivalent to more than 12 million votes not counted in the
U.S. presidential election of 2004.

"Calderon's lead in the preliminary vote count appears to be
statistically meaningless*, since the excluded votes are more than 10
times as large as his margin over Lopez Obrador," said economist Mark
Weisbrot, Co-Director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

Anonymous Comrade writes:

"The Iceman Cometh"

Canada's New Prime Minister, Stephan Harper, Starts Governing

John Chuckman

Stephan Harper's first budget, while making little economic and social sense, makes a great deal of political sense. Tidbits of spending are distributed to enough disparate groups to aim at luring a majority-making coalition of diverse interests. At the same time, Harper toughly enforces quiet from party members known for blurting out embarrassing, socially-backward views.

His minority government represents little more than an intense public relations effort to achieve majority government, free of existing artificial restraints. The hazards this represents are suggested even under current restraints.

Why do I say the budget makes little economic sense? Every trained economist, including Harper, knows that skewing taxes back to favor consumption - his lowering of the GST (Goods and Services Tax) - is in principle unsound policy.

But if you were determined to re-tilt taxes to favor consumption, a tiny change is not the way to do it, because it is costly and inefficient to re-set the system for a consumer gain of one percent. A huge effort is now needed to re-program or replace countless cash registers and calculators, not to mention the reprinting of forms, receipts, and reports of many kinds.

In economics, often, events that mean one thing for individuals mean something else for the community. Thus, Harper's small change in the GST, which will be almost imperceptible to consumers in their individual purchases, still will manage to deprive the federal treasury of a substantial annual sum.

The measure does keep a campaign promise, but it was never a sensible promise, tailored, as it was, to appeal to people's prejudice towards a tax that features in most purchases, a promise offered without explaining the necessary consequences for federal finances.

Anonymous Comrade writes:

"What Did Stephen Harper Actually Win?"

John Chuckman

There has been a lot of noise about the victory of Stephen Harper, leader of Canada’s new Conservative party, but just what did he win?

Votes in the recent election for progressive parties — Liberals, New Democrats, and Bloc Quebecois (quite progressive on social issues) — went from 64.8% in the 2004 election to 58.2% in 2006, a handsome majority that would be rated a landslide in an American presidential election.

Our Struggle is Against US Imperialism

I Believe Only in the Power of the People
Evo Morales


This is the text of a speech given on December 24 at the "In Defense of Humanity" conference.

What happened these past days in Bolivia was a great revolt by those who have been oppressed for more than 500 years. The will of the people was imposed this September and October, and has begun to overcome the empire's cannons. We have lived for so many years through the confrontation of two cultures: the culture of life represented by the indigenous people, and the culture of death represented by West. When we the indigenous people--together with the workers and even the businessmen of our country--fight for life and justice, the State responds with its "democratic rule of law."

What does the "rule of law" mean for indigenous people? For the poor, the marginalized, the excluded, the "rule of law" means the targeted assassinations and collective massacres that we have endured. Not just this September and October, but for many years, in which they have tried to impose policies of hunger and poverty on the Bolivian people. Above all, the "rule of law" means the accusations that we, the Quechuas, Aymaras and Guaranties of Bolivia keep hearing from our governments: that we are narcos, that we are anarchists. This uprising of the Bolivian people has been not only about gas and hydrocarbons, but an intersection of many issues: discrimination, marginalization , and most importantly, the failure of neoliberalism.

Anonymous Comrade writes:

"Monsieur Cokehead

John Chuckman

I confess that while completely disagreeing with the aims of the Parti Québécois I think the party has had some riveting leaders. René Lévesque, the Parti's founder, was a fascinating man, a man whose disarmingly intimate manner of speech rarely failed to spark interest. You could watch him puffing cigarettes and rasping his eloquent words for hours. Later, the party chose Lucien Bouchard, perhaps the most electrifying public speaker Canada has produced. This was a man capable of giving goose bumps to listeners, a fiery intelligence on a mission.

Well, members of the Parti Québécois have just elected a new leader, André Boisclair. He doesn't quite fall into the category of exciting politician, but he is a capable speaker in Canada's two languages, better, certainly, than the party's last leader. He has the saving grace of appearing not to be subject to fits of rubbery facial gymnastics like the leader of the Bloc Québécois, Gilles Duceppe, a man who unfortunately often resembles the valedictorian student at a college for clowns.

Anonymous Comrade writes:

The Gomery Report and Quebec Separatism

John Chuckman

Following the Gomery Commission Report, the question often is asked, "What do the Liberals have to do to be thrown out of office?"

But the question is politically naïve. Let's be clear just what the scandal Justice Gomery investigated involves. Except for a limited number of individuals who took advantage and who should be prosecuted, the scheme was not about the Liberal Party enriching itself. However inappropriate the method, it was an effort to fund the fight against separatism.

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