SocialismToday           Socialist Party magazine

Socialism Today 103 - September 2006

Mexico’s stolen election

THE TURMOIL which has shaken Mexico since presidential elections were held on 2 July has continued. By the narrowest of margins the right-wing candidate of PAN (Partido Accion Nacional), Felipe Calderón, has claimed victory. Yet his ‘victory’ was the product of widescale electoral fraud which has provoked a massive wave of protest led by the radical populist candidate of the PRD (Partido Revolucionario Democratico), Andrés Manuel López Obrador, popularly known as ‘Amlo’. Over a million have participated in one protest against this stolen election. Thousands have joined in the massive encampments which have blocked Mexico City’s main thoroughfares around the giant Zócalo square.

After weeks of protest a new, more radical turn is developing in the PRD leadership reflecting the bitter anger of the masses who supported Amlo. ‘If there is no solution there will be revolution’, is one of the most common chants taken up by PRD supporters in the mass action.

The scale of the fraud and the consequences it will have in Mexico has provoked alarm by important sections of the capitalist class internationally. (Although this stands in marked contrast with the bellicose support of PAN by George Bush and the White House.) While there is little coverage of these developments – compared with Ukraine’s ‘orange revolution’ – behind the scenes alarm bells have been ringing.

Should Calderón assume the presidency on 1 December as timetabled his government will have no legitimacy. It is certain to come into collision with a new wave of struggles which began to unfold by miners, teachers, hospital workers and others in the run up to the election.

At the same time, the Mexican ruling class also fears, with equal reason, that should Amlo be accepted as president it will be the green light for workers, peasants and youth to move into action and demand massive reforms and concessions from the ruling class. Despite his radical populist attacks on the rich, corruption and US imperialism he has also pledged that he is willing to work with big business and will only take measures against the corrupt. Yet a PRD-led government with a radical populist policy would also have international repercussions and come into conflict with US imperialism. One of the central demands in the election was to renegotiate the FTAA trade agreement with the USA.

Above all, however, both the Mexican ruling class and US imperialism fear that a PRD led government would open the floodgates to demands and struggles by the masses. A measure of the developing mass movement is in the state of Oaxaca, where a massive strike movement of firstly teachers and now health workers, which has been taking place for over a month, is demanding the resignation of the state governor. A state-wide popular uprising is underway.

The mass pressure has compelled the electoral commission, TEPJP, to agree to a partial recount – not the full recount demanded by the opposition. In hundreds of ballot boxes more votes were counted than the numbers registered to vote! The TEPJP has to give its final verdict by 6 September.

In the light of the mass pressure, Amlo has been compelled to move in a more radical direction. He has now spoken of building a ‘permanent opposition’ and threatened mass protests at every event attended by Calderón: "Now begins a new period in Mexico… with the sovereign power of the people we will undertake the changes and transformations that this country needs". A further mass rally has been called for 16 September, the traditional day of official marches by the military to celebrate Mexico’s independence.

Already, a major clash with the police has taken place in Mexico City as the government attempted to repress some of the encampments set up by the PRD and its supporters. A major confrontation could easily still develop if Calderón is sworn in as president.

At the same time, the more radical turn of Amlo is provoking some divisions in the radical capitalist and nationalist PRD. Some more middle-class elements are fearful things could get out of control and want a more moderate stance which, in reality, means accepting that the stolen election result stands.

However, the more radical declarations by Amlo are not enough to beat this fraud. He has spoken of a campaign lasting years to fight the result. The mobilisations already undertaken, although welcome, need to go much further with a clear strategy. Democratically elected committees need to be formed in all workplaces, universities and workers’ districts. These need to be linked up on a district, city-wide, state and national level. The massive protests which have already taken place indicate the potential strength of the movement. A date should be set not only for a national demonstration but for a general strike to defeat this fraud.

This should be linked to steps by the masses involved in this movement to begin to build a real party for the workers and peasants, and all those exploited by capitalism who wish to fight to overthrow capitalism and establish a workers’ and peasants’ government with a revolutionary socialist programme.

However this election battle is resolved in the short term, a new chapter has opened in the struggle of the Mexican masses. A new phase of struggle in Mexico, on the border with US imperialism, is certain to have major repercussions in the USA, as well as the rest of Latin America. It is unfolding as Bush faces a crash in his support at home and with the massive mobilisation of Latino workers in the US demanding their rights.

These developments in Mexico represent a further upsurge of the struggle against neo-liberalism that is taking place throughout the continent. This poses the need for a revolutionary socialist programme, party and organisation to overthrow capitalism and establish a democratic socialist federation of Latin America.

Tony Saunois


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