By JAIME GONZALEZ
MEXICO CITY—In a solemn session held on Thursday, Aug. 30, one by one of the seven magistrates of Mexico’s Supreme Federal Electoral Court (TRIFE) read out their pronouncements on the most critical evidence they had received as part of a formal request to invalidate last July’s presidential election process. One by one, they argued that no substantial proof of large-scale vote buying had been presented, and threw out the case that had been opened by the Movimiento Progresista, the alliance that had launched Andrés Manuel López Obrador as its presidential candidate.
The TRIFE’s building, located in the south of Mexico City, had been cordoned off by a heavy deployment of riot police. Thousands of protesters did turn out, especially the next day, Aug. 31, when Enrique Peña Nieto, of the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) was handed the official winner’s certificate. Although he did have to arrive by helicopter in order to avoid the mostly peaceful, mostly young protesters, the size of the crowd was very far from what was needed to present a challenge to the state machinery that is ready to use the full extent of its power to install the prepackaged candidate of the predominant faction of Mexico’s owners.
The first question that comes to mind is: What happened in between the scandals that broke out just after the elections on July 1—the ensuing indignation shown by hundreds of thousands who marched in the streets of dozens of cities throughout Mexico—and the Aug. 30 decision by the magistrates? The high judges seemed not to notice the widespread perception that something rotten had gone on during the electoral process, and that its legitimacy was widely questioned.
The answer, and explanation, is quite simple. Mexico’s political establishment, including the political parties and forces that supported López Obrador, decided to go once again down their well-trodden road of either openly or de facto accepting a questionable election. They would like to proceed as fast as circumstances permit to carry out the power-sharing scheme that will ensure vast profits to the huge legal/illegal businesses that finance them, and permit their whole gamut of party operators to enjoy everything from lower government posts up to senate seats and governorships.
López Obrador’s forces and allies, for instance, won the Mexico City government, widely considered as the second place of power after the presidency.
Consequently, the Movimiento Progresista did not call for a single important protest; it was mainly the students of the #YoSoy132 movement who took to the streets, and carried out a wide range of initiatives prior to the Supreme Federal Electoral Court’s decision.
It is important, however, to consider another factor that has weighted in the election aftermath. Peña Nieto’s PRI won (in round numbers) 19 million votes, López Obrador’s Movimiento Progresista won 16 million, and the Partido Accion Nacional (PAN) won 13 million. In other words, the PAN and the PRI candidates combined had twice as many (albeit tainted) counted votes as the Movimiento Progresista.
So when the PAN’s leaders declared that they would not join in the legal challenge to Peña Nieto’s victory, even when they agreed there was evidence of vote-buying, it meant that the owners of Mexico considered any move towards seriously questioning the legitimacy of the elections as unacceptable (and probably even dangerous, in the midst of worldwide economic uncertainty).
The monumentally heavy wheels of the capitalist justice system will not lose their momentum in favor of the owners of the country, unless sufficient (in fact, an enormous amount of) social energy is applied to make them turn in the opposite direction. The evidence presented by the legal apparatus of the Movimiento Progresista was mercilessly crushed and disdained, without any regard whatsoever for the facts that were known to wide swaths of the population.
It is public knowledge that the PRI had, indeed, recurred to widespread vote buying, as evidenced, among other facts, by the massive quantity of prepaid cards for the Soriana supermarket chain that were given out by PRI operatives (as corroborated by many of the recipients of these cards). Of course, the TRIFE did not make any serious efforts to check what practically everybody knew, and was widely reported by newspapers.
After the TRIFE’s official recognition of Peña Nieto’s victory, López Obrador (AMLO) has called for a massive rally in Mexico City on Sept. 9. Although this rally should be supported, it is not difficult to guess that AMLO’s role will be to keep discontent within narrow limits.
What perspectives are there today for forces that represent the interests of the poor, the exploited, and the oppressed of Mexico? The Socialist Left Front, the FIS, in which Socialist Action’s sister organization in Mexico, the Liga de Unidad Socialista, participates (as reported in the July issue of this newspaper) will try to rally the widest social mobilization possible against electoral fraud and in favor of a Constitutional Assembly that could sweep out the corrupt and criminal forces that have a strong hold on Mexican government institutions, and that are holding back healthy economic growth and development.
As Peña Nieto’s inauguration at the beginning of December gets closer, democracy, once again, has become the main focus of the aspirations of the Mexican population, and the day to day problems of rising food prices and decreasing standards of living will increasingly combine with political issues.