Voto por voto! - Page 4

A drama of Mexican civil resistance in five acts

Despite rumors that he had fled the country, Ugalde shows up July 27th at the first IFE meeting since the district tallies three weeks previous where he is confronted by the PRD delegate to the Institute (each party has one delegate.) During an acrimonious seven-hour meeting, Horacio Duarte keeps waving 30 partially burnt ballots, most of them marked for AMLO, that he has just been handed by an anonymous source. Duarte wants to know where Ugalde lives so he can nail one of the ballots to his front door to expose the "shame" of the fraud-marred election. The gray-faced bureaucrat grows even grayer and threatens to suspend the session. OK, OK, Duarte concedes, I'll just hang it on your office door.

Just then a score of protestors push their way past the IFE guards at the auditorium's portals – the meeting is a public one. They are chanting "Voto por Voto" and carrying bouquets of yellow flowers, AMLO's colors. A PRD deputy tries to hand one to Luis Carlos Ugalde who turns away in horror. A bodyguard snatches up the blossoms as if they were a terrorist bomb, and disposes of them post-haste.

Act Five: We Shall Not Be Moved

The clock is ticking. The TRIFE must declare a new president by September 5th. The seven judges, all in the final year of their ten-year terms (three will move up to the Supreme Court in the next administration) have just begun to dig their way into the slagheap of legal challenges that impugn the results in about half of the 130,000 polling places in the land, the ham-handed bias of the IFE prior to the election, and the strange behavior of the Federal Electoral Institute's computers on election day and thereafter.

The TRIFE, which has sometimes struck down corrupted state and local elections and ordered recounts in a handful of electoral districts, can either determine that the legal challenges would not affect enough votes to overturn the IFE's determination that Calderon won the election, annul the entire election if it adjudges that it was illegitimately conducted, or order a recount. If the judges determine that annulment is the only way to fix the inequities, a new election would be scheduled 18 months down the pike.

In the meantime, the Mexican Congress would name an interim president, an unprecedented resolution in modern political history here – just the fact it is being discussed is, in itself, unprecedented.

Among those mentioned for the post are National Autonomous University rector Juan Ramon de la Fuente, former IFE director Jose Woldenberg, and three-time presidential loser Cuauhtemoc Cardenas, son of beloved depression-era president Lazaro Cardenas. For Cuauhtemoc, who was defrauded out of the presidency in 1988 by the same kind of flimflam with which the PAN and the IFE seek to despoil Lopez Obrador of victory in 2006, an interim presidency would be a perfect solution. Fixated on fulfilling the destiny of following in his father's footsteps, moving back into his boyhood home Los Pinos - the Mexican White House – would be sweet revenge against his former protégé and now bitter rival on the left, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

But AMLO does not want the election annulled and an interim appointed. He is obsessed with proving his triumph at the polls and is not going to sit on his hands waiting for the TRIFE to reach its learned conclusions. A gifted leader of street protest, he has summoned his people to the capitol's Tiananmens-sized Zocalo square three times since July 2nd, each time doubling the numbers of the masses who march through the city: 500,000 on July 8th, 1.1 million on July 16th, and 2.4 million this past Sunday, July 30th (police estimates) - Sunday's gathering was the largest political demonstration in the nation's history.

The "informative assemblies" as AMLO tags them, have been festive occasions but underneath there is palpable anger. Lopez Obrador's people come in family, arm babies and grandpas, often in wheelchairs are on canes.