Mexico splits in half - Page 2

The election moves into the streets – and the U.S. needs to be paying attention
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Evidence of wide-spread ballot box manipulation in a third of the 130,000 polling places (including ballot-stuffing and duplicate numbers in thousands of them), malfeasance in the reporting of district totals to the IFE, inexplicable cybernetic confabulations in both the preliminary count or PREP (3,000,000 mostly AMLO votes were removed) and the final tabulation in the districts, are being presented to the nation's top electoral tribunal (code-named the TRIFE) by Lopez Obrador's battery of attorneys in an effort to persuade the seven justices that a hand recount is the only way to determine who will be the next president of Mexico. Such recounts have recently been conducted in close elections in Germany, Italy, and Costa Rica (as well as in Florida 2000 until ordered shut down by the U.S. Supreme Court).

Felipe Calderon and the PAN and Ugalde's IFE consider AMLO's demands to open the ballot boxes an "insult" to the "hundreds of thousands of citizens" who were responsible for carrying out the election. "The votes have already been counted - on Election Day" Ugalde upbraids Lopez Obrador.

The TRIFE is an autonomous judicial body with powers to annul the presidential election. It has annulled gubernatorial elections in Tabasco (AMLO's home state) and Colima and invalidated results in entire districts because of electoral flimflam in recent years. Lopez Obrador and the PRD have also petitioned Mexico's Supreme Court to invalidate the election because of Vicente Fox's apparently unconstitutional meddling on behalf of Calderon, and this reporter has learned that AMLO is considering calling upon all PRD elected officials not to take office December 1st if the ballots are not recounted, a strategy that could trigger a constitutional crisis.

Despite the uncertainty about who won the July 2nd election, the White House and Ambassador Tony Garza, a Bush crony, have been quick to congratulate Felipe Calderon for whom they exhibited an undisguised predilection during the campaigns. President Bush actually called the right-winger from Air Force One, and Garza has been lavish in his praise of the much-questioned performance of the IFE as proof of "a maturing Mexican democracy."

The U.S. embassy has a track record of intervening in Mexico's presidential selection. Ronald Reagan recognized Carlos Salinas as the winner of the stolen 1988 election within 96 hours of the larceny. In 1911, U.S. Ambassador Henry Lane Wilson signed off on the assassination of Mexico's first democratically elected president Francisco Madero, to whom Lopez Obrador has often compared himself.

Most of the U.S. Big Press has followed in lockstep with the White House. The Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, and Washington Post all expressed editorial satisfaction at Calderon's coronation based on the results of the admittedly manipulated preliminary count. The New York Times, however, which 18 years ago, after free-marketeer Carlos Salinas stole the presidency from leftist Cuauhtemoc Cardenas, called that tormented proceedings "the cleanest election in Mexican history," this time around was more cautious, urging a ballot-by-ballot recount.

As tens of thousands of AMLO's supporters -- "the people the color of the earth" Subcomandante Marcos names them -- march across the Mexican landscape on their way up to the capital to demand electoral justice, invoking scenes of the great movement of "los de abajo" (those from down below) during Mexico's monumental 1910-1919 revolution, the country holds it breath.

In Mexico, the past has equal value with the present and the memory of what came before can sometimes be what comes next. T
hese are history-making moments south of the Rio Bravo. North Americans need to pay attention.

A shortened version of this piece appeared on the Nation.com. John Ross's "Making Another World Possible: Zapatista Chronicles 2000-2006" will be published this October by Nation Books.