Voto por voto! - Page 2

A drama of Mexican civil resistance in five acts

During the stolen 1988 presidential election, Clouthier demanded a ballot-by-ballot recount and coined the now ubiquitous phrase "voto por voto." The PRD gathering around the statue of "Saint Maquio" left Calderon and the PAN speechless for once.

The PRD crusade could be labeled "civil resistance lite." Led by Poniatowska, opera singer Regina Orozco, and comic actress Jesusa Rodriguez, public demonstrations have been more showbiz than eruptions of mass outrage. Nonetheless, Televisa and TV Azteca, Calderon and the PAN relentlessly rag Lopez Obrador for "fomenting violence," purposefully ignoring the real daily violence that grips Mexico's cities as brutal narco gangs behead rivals and massacre their enemies in plain public view.

Act Two: Bad Gas

Hundreds of steaming AMLO supporters pack the cavernous Club de Periodistas in the old quarter of the capital, where computer gurus will diagnosis the complexities of the cybernetic fraud Lopez Obrador is positive was perpetrated by IFE technicians this past July 2nd and 5th during both the preliminary count (PREP) and the actual tally of 130,000 precincts in the nation's 300 electoral districts.

The experts are as convinced as the audience that the vote was stolen on the IFE terminals, but have many theories as to how. They speak of arcane algorithms and corrupted software. Juan Gurria, a computer programmer who has dropped in on his lunch hour to audit the experts, recalls the 1988 election which was stolen from leftist Cuauhtemoc Cardenas by the long-ruling (71 years) PRI in the nation's first cybernetic computer fraud. "In 1988, they had to shut down the computers and say the system had crashed to fix the vote – but in 2006, the IFE kept the system running and we watched them steal it right before our eyes" Gurria contends, "the difference is they have better computers now."

18 years ago, with computer fraud still in its infancy, the PRI had to resort to hit men to carry out its larceny. Three nights before the election, Cardenas's closest aide, Francisco Xavier Ovando, and his assistant, Ramon Gil, were executed blocks away from the Congress of the country after reportedly obtaining the password to the PRI computer system, upon which the results were being cooked in favor of its candidates, the now universally reviled Carlos Salinas de Gortari. So far, Computer Fraud 2006 has been less messy.

Although the subject is dry and technical – at one point excerpts of an abstruse Guardian of London analysis by University of Texas economist James Galbreath (son of John Kenneth) was read into the record in English – AMLO's supporters mutter and grumble and nod their heads vigorously. "Asi es!" – that's just the way it happened! "Voto por Voto" they rumble, "Casilla por Casilla!" after each expert scores a point. Whether or not the fix is in, they are convinced that they have been had.

The PRD is trying to keep a lid on the bad gas seeping from down below. A few days after July 2nd, Felipe Calderon, who AMLO's people have derisively dubbed "Fe-Cal," came to this same Club de Periodistas to receive the adulation of a gaggle of union bosses. When he tried to leave the club, he was assailed by street venders howling "Voto por Voto!”

Calderon was quickly hustled into a bullet-proof SUV by his military escort, but the angry crowd kept pounding on the tinted windows. One young man obscenely thrust his middle finger at the would-be president, The scene is replayed over and over again on Televisa and Azteca, sometimes five times in a single news broadcast, graphic footage of the kind of violence AMLO is supposed to be inciting.

Act Three: In Defense of the Voto

Lopez Obrador fervently believes he has won the presidency of the United States of Mexico. He says it often on television just to needle Calderon. The proof, he is convinced, is inside 130,000 ballot boxes that he wants recounted, voto por voto.