Voto por voto! - Page 3

A drama of Mexican civil resistance in five acts

The ballot boxes are now stored in the Federal Electoral Institute's 300 district offices under the protection of the Mexican army. Nonetheless, in Veracruz, Tabasco, and Jalisco among other states, IFE operators have broken into the ballot boxes under the pretext of recovering lost electoral documentation. AMLO is suspicious that the officials are monkeying with the ballots, adding and subtracting the number of votos to make them conform to the IFE's incredible computer count. Hundreds of ballot boxes contain more votes than voters on the registration lists, and more ballots have been judged null and void than the 243,000 margin of Calderon's as-yet unconfirmed victory.

To this end, Lopez Obrador has strengthened encampments of his supporters outside the 300 electoral districts. In Monterrey, a PANista stronghold, thugs attack the encampment, beating on AMLO's people and tearing down their tent city. Rocks are thrown at his supporters in Sinaloa; drivers speed by hurling curses and spitting on them.

Outside the Mexico City headquarters of the TRIFE, the seven-judge panel that will have the ultimate word as to whether or not the votos are going to be counted out one by one, a hunger strike has been ongoing since the PRD submitted documentation of anomalies in 53,000 out of the nation's 130,000 polling places. Each night a different show business personality joins the fasters, eschews dinner and camps out in the guest pup tent overnight.

From Carlos Fuentes and Elena Poniatowska to painters like Jose Luis Cuevas and master designer Vicente Rojo, the arts and entertainment world has lined up behind Lopez Obrador. An exhibition by Cuevas and 50 other top line graphic artists and writers has been installed on the Alameda green strip adjacent to the Palace of Fine Arts here. After midnight, Calderon supporters slash and savage the art work, leaving a broken jumble behind.

The next day brigades of AMLO's people from the surrounding neighborhoods rescue what they can of the exhibit, reassemble the broken shards, sew the torn art back together, and prop up the display panels. This is what democracy looks like in Mexico in the summer of 2006.

Act Four: Se Busca Por Fraude Electoral

The integrity of the Federal Electoral Commission is in the eye of Hurricane AMLO. Lopez Obrador accuses the IFE of fixing the election for Felipe Calderon and then defending his false victory. The PRD has filed criminal charges against the nine members of the IFE's ruling council, most prominently its chairman, the gray-faced bureaucrat Luis Carlos Ugalde, for grievous acts of bias against Lopez Obrador, including refusing to halt Calderon's hate spots in the run-up to July 2nd.

The IFE is mortally offended by the allegations that it has committed fraud and is using its enormously extravagant budget (larger than all of the government's anti-poverty programs combined) to run spots protesting the slurs on its integrity that are every bit as virulent and ubiquitous as Calderon's toxic hit pieces. Actors have been hired to impersonate irate citizens who allegedly were chosen at random as polling place workers July 2nd. "The votes have already been counted" they scoff. "We did not commit fraud" they insist. The idea is preposterous, an insult to their patriotism and to one of the pillars of Mexican "democracy," the IFE.

Luis Carlos Ugalde, the president of the IFE council, has not been seen in public for several weeks except in large Wanted posters pasted to the walls of the inner city – SE BUSCA POR FRAUDE ELECTORAL! Ugalde and two other IFE counselors are protégés of powerful teachers union czar Elba Esther Gordillo, who joined forces with the PAN to take revenge on failed PRI presidential candidate Roberto Madrazo, a mortal enemy. The nine-member council is composed entirely of PRI and PAN nominees – the PRD is, of course, excluded.