On July 2 this year Mexico held presidential elections. The winner was declared to be the protégé of US imperialism, the Harvard educated close friend of President Bush, Felipe Calderon. This result, however, was so obviously rigged that “crowds of protesters [have been] squatting in Mexico City for weeks protesting against alleged vote-rigging”. There is, however, practically nothing in the British bourgeois media about these protests – no “mainstream BBC bulletin live from among the massive crowds” All there has been is occasionally “commentators who celebrated Ukrainians blocking the main thoroughfares of Kiev [during the US-inspired ‘Orange Revolution’, which claimed that the US-backed candidate Yushchenko had only lost because of ballot rigging] condescend to jeer at Mexico’s sore losers and complain that businessmen are missing deadlines because dead-enders with nothing better to do are holding up the traffic” (Quotations are from Mark Almond, history lecturer at Oxford University, writing in The Guardian of 15 August 2006, ‘”People Power” is a global brand owned by America’).
The evidence of ballot rigging is substantial. First of all, exit polls showed Calderon’s opponent Andres Manuel Lopez Obrera (known by his initials AMLO) ahead by 35.1% to 35.0%. Of course, exit polls can get it wrong, but there is other, far more compelling evidence.
Greg Palast, a former lecturer in statistics point out that the results were statistically impossible: “The nation’s tens of thousands of polling stations report to the capital in random order after the polls close. Therefore, statistically, you’d expect the results to remain roughly unchanged as vote totals come in. As expected AMLO was ahead of the right-wing candidate Calderon all night by an unchanging margin – until after midnight. Suddenly precincts began reporting wins for Calderon of five to one, then ten to one, then, as polling nearly ended, of a hundred to one.
“How odd. I checked my concerns with Victor Romero, a professor at Mexico’s National University, who concluded that the reported results must have been a ‘miracle’. As he put it, a ‘religious event’ but a statistical impossibility.”
Writing in The Guardian of 8 July (‘Saturday: Mexico and Florida have more in common than heat’), Greg Palast points to striking similarities with the 2000 Presidential elections in the United States, and specifically the strange happening in Florida where Bush’s brother Jeb was governor. It seems that Jeb had tens of thousands of voters removed from the voter list, all of them being black and likely to vote Democrat. To assist him in his ethnic cleansing of the voter list, Jeb apparently used the services of a company called ChoicePoint of Alpharetta, Georgia. This same company has now reappeared in Mexico. And by a ‘miraculous’ coincidence, thousands of voters in Mexico’s poorer districts have been complaining that their names have disappeared from electoral rolls.
Another aspect of the Mexico election which is comparable to the Florida poll in 2000 is the vast number of “spoilt papers”. No fewer than 827,000 ballots were supposedly ‘left blank’, while “the ruling party’s hand-picked electoral commission counted a mere 402,000 votes more for their candidate, Felipe Calderon, over challenger Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador”. And once again, the vast majority of the “supposedly empty or unreadable ballots come from the poorer districts where the challenger’s Party of the Democratic Revolution is strongest”.
There was also an abnormally low turnout (44%) in the state where AMLO is most popular, compared to turnouts of 60% elsewhere.
And furthermore “In a surprising number of districts in Mexico, the federal electoral commission logged lots of negative drop-off: more votes for lower offices than for president… Did Lopez Obrador supporters, en masse, forget to punch in their choice? (Greg Palast in The Guardian, cited above).
Greg Palast also mentions that shortly after the attack on the World Trade Centre in September 2001, the FBI wrote a memo, marked ‘secret’, regarding a contract (which he implies was with ChoicePoint) for ‘intelligence collection of foreign counter-terrorism investigations’ – except that the contract was for obtaining voter files for Venezuela, Brazil and Mexico. As Greg Palast points out, there are not countries where terrorism is rife, but they are certainly countries where left-wing candidates have mass popular support. It is hard to avoid the conclusion that the US government’s need for these lists could only have been based on a desire to interfere in one or more ways in elections in those countries.
The refusal to order a meaningful recount is also indicative of the ruling party’s guilt in the matter of ballot rigging. Were the recount to be undertaken seriously, even if only partially, obvious points to check would be the abnormally high number of allegedly spoilt ballots. In just the 9% of ballots recounted, all the supposedly spoilt ballots were in fact cast in favour of AMLO, but still Mexico’s electoral commission saw no reason somehow why the matter should be further investigated.
As Mark Almond points out (op.cit.), “The colour coded revolutionaries of the former Soviet Union had a pro-western agenda – such as bringing Georgia and the Ukraine into Nato and the EU – but in Latin America radicals question the wisdom of US-led bodies such as Nafta and the WTO. The crude truth is that Washington cannot afford to let Mexico’s vast oil reserves fall into hands of a president even half as radical as Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez.”
Mark Almond concludes: “The cruel reality is that ‘people power’ has become a global brand. But like so many global brands it is owned by Americans. Mexicans and any other ‘populists’ who try to copy it should beware that they’re infringing a copyright. No matter how many protesters swarm through Mexico City or how long they protest, it is George Bush and co who decide which people truly represent The People. People power turns out to be about politics, not arithmetic.”
Democracy is after all only a form of class rule. Elections are only considered valid if they produce a result acceptable to the ruling class. In an oppressed country such as Mexico, the result has to be acceptable to its imperialist oppressors, especially US imperialism. Elections which bring in governments unacceptable to imperialism, such as that of Allende in Chile, are likely to be removed by foul means, involving either trickery or violence or both. More recently we have only to think of the adverse response of imperialism to the election of Ahmadinejad in Iran or Hamas in Palestine – both governments whose downfall is currently being plotted by US imperialism. From the imperialist point of view, they would prefer not to face the embarrassment of removing elected governments – as a result of which they devote millions of dollars to purchasing the results that they want – and if that tactic appears to be failing a simple resort to ballot rigging saves everybody a great deal of trouble in the long run!