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Rage One (blog)

domingo, agosto 13, 2006

Mexico Week In Review: 08.07-08.13


Mexico Week In Review: 08.07-08.13

Published since 1994, 'Mexico Week In Review' is a service of the
Committee of Indigenous Solidarity (CIS). CIS is a Washington, D.C.
based activist group committed to the ongoing struggles of Indigenous
peoples in the Americas. CIS is actively supporting the struggles
of the Indigenous peoples of Mexico while simultaneously combating
related structures of oppression within our own communities.

To view newsletter archives, visit:

"Para Todos, Todo; Para Nosotros Nada"


Hundreds of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) supporters, claiming
fraud in Mexico's presidential election, spread their protests out
from the capital on Saturday (08/12) by occupying major highways to
stop the government from collecting toll fees. It was an escalation
of protests that have so far centered on Mexico City, and organizers
vowed even more in coming days. "We have to toughen up the campaign.
It is going to be spread across the country because this is a
national problem," said Gerardo Fernandez, a spokesman for the
left-wing Party of the Democratic Revolution.

Activists swung open toll barriers for a couple of hours on several
main highways serving Mexico's three biggest cities -- Mexico City,
Guadalajara and Monterrey. Also hit were highways to the Pacific
coast beach resort of Acapulco and Nuevo Laredo on the U.S. border.

Election officials are this week carrying out a partial recount at
just 9 percent of polling stations. Lopez Obrador says the partial
recount shows that more than 100,000 votes were wrongly counted in
the initial tally. He says the electoral court has no choice but to
annul the results at thousands of polling stations and declare him
the winner. "What happens if the court applies the law and annuls
those polling stations with grave irregularities? Well, the result is
different," Lopez Obrador told thousands of supporters in Mexico
City's vast Zocalo square on Friday night.

Conservative candidate Felipe Calderon won by about 244,000 votes, or
0.58 of a percentage point, and his ruling party says the recounts
show only minor changes in the results. Calderon says they prove the
vote was clean and he fully expects the electoral court to confirm
him as president-elect.

Lopez Obrador's supporters have crippled central Mexico City for
almost two weeks by setting up camps in the Zocalo and on the main
boulevard that runs through its business district. They have resisted
pressure from business groups and many residents to dismantle the
protest camps, and are planning to hit new targets in their campaign
of civil disobedience. This week, the tactics included blockading the
stock exchange, the headquarters of international banks and
government offices in Mexico City.

Source: Reuters: 08/12


On August 3, state authorities led by officials from Agrarian Reform
evicted EZLN support bases from Chol de Tumbala, located in the
autonomous municipality of El Trabajo in the Lacandon rainforest.
Over 260 police burned the homes and belongings of 30 families,
including all of their stored food. Police arrested Juan Jimenez
Vazquez, Bartolo Arcos Mendoza and Mateo Sanchez Montejo, who were
taking the license plate numbers of official vehicles. All three
were beaten during the arrest.

Source: Mexico Solidarity Network Weekly News Summary: 07.31-08.06


Protesters held four people hostage charging they were linked to a
fatal shooting of a demonstrator during protests that have besieged
Oaxaca since June. The Federal Agency of Intelligence said protesters
later released the hostages to its agents at a local television
station that had been seized by the protesters.

The protesters want the four charged in the death of Jose Jimenez,
50, who was killed during an Oaxaca People's Assembly march calling
for the resignation of Gov. Ulises Ruiz. The OPA, which has accused
the governor of using force to repress dissent and rigging the 2004
election to win office, alleged Ruiz was behind the shooting. The
governor denied the allegations and condemned the violence.

Tensions in Oaxaca have been on the rise since June, when state
police attacked a demonstration of striking teachers occupying the
historic central plaza and demanding a wage increase. Meanwhile,
authorities arrested Erangelio Mendoza Gonzalez, a top teachers'
union leader thought to be the driving force behind the
demonstrations. Protest organizer Enrique Rueda Pacheco said Gonzalez
was being held on federal charges of blocking public access and
taking over city buses. Federal authorities confirmed the arrest but
did not provide details.

On Wednesday, gunmen killed three people, including a 12-year-old
boy, on a road about 150 miles from Oaxaca. The three had been
heading to protests in the city, but police said they did not know if
the attack was linked to the demonstrations.

Source: Associated Press: 08/11


Physical attacks against Mexican journalists and press institutions
continue to take their toll. Veteran Chihuahua journalist Enrique
Perea became the latest victim when he disappeared on August 7.
Perea's tortured and bullet- riddled body was found two days later
outside Chihuahua City. A well-known crime reporter who had worked
for El Heraldo newspaper of Chihuahua City and other press outlets,
Perea had founded a new magazine dedicated to covering organized
crime themes. In its last issues, Perea's magazine criticized the
Chihuahua state government for the high rates of violent crime in the
border state. Perea was the 25th Mexican journalist murdered since
1995. Three other journalists are missing. According to the Inter-
American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), Mexico is now second
only to Colombia in the number of journalists murdered in the Western
Hemisphere during the last 11 years.

In southern Mexico, two attackers, one of whom was armed with an
Israeli-style Uzi submachine gun, assaulted the offices of the
Noticias daily in Oaxaca City also on August 9. Six persons were
wounded in the shooting, including newspaper vendors Isabel Cruz and
Adrian Cervantes. Noticias is Oaxaca state's largest circulation
daily and a vocal opponent of the state government run by the
Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). The newspaper has had a
long-running battle with business and political sectors connected to
the PRI. After violent attacks were directed against Noticias in
2004, the IACHR ordered the implementation of protective measures.

Far from isolated incidents, the most recent attacks against the
press should be viewed as part and parcel of a landscape of criminal
and political violence. Gangland- style executions like the Perea
killing are almost a daily occurrence in Chihuahua state. In the same
week the well-known journalist was killed, other slayings bearing the
hallmarks of organized crime splashed across the headlines. Marcos
Arturo Nazar Contreras, the chief of the Chihuahua State Agency for
Investigations in Ciudad Juarez, was gunned down by assassins on
August 7, while Julio Cesar Vazquez Manjarraz, the owner of the New
Paradise bar in Ciudad Juarez, was shot to death in an August 9
incident outside his business establishment.

In Oaxaca, violence arising from political motives is on the upswing.
A mass uprising against PRI Governor Ulises Ruiz continues to gain
force as opponents organized into the Popular Assembly of the Oaxacan
People (APPO) seize city halls, set up roadblocks and stage economic
boycotts to force Ruiz from office. The protestors are demanding that
the federal congress dissolve state powers in Oaxaca. On Wednesday,
August 9, the same day as the Oaxaca City attack against the Noticias
daily, three members of the Unifying Movement of the Independent
Triqui Struggle and the APPO were killed in an ambush in the Mixteca
region of the state.

Meanwhile, Mexican journalist Rafael Ortiz Martinez remains missing
after he vanished more than one month ago in northern border state of
Coahuila. The 32-year-old reporter for the Zocalo newspaper of
Moncolva was last reported seen the afternoon of Saturday, July 8.
Shortly before his disappearance, Ortiz had published stories about
clandestine prostitution in Moncolva. Unconfirmed versions report
that Ortiz also had knowledge about a rape reportedly committed by
Mexican soldiers in the municipality of Frontera this summer. In an
interview with the Mexico City-based Cimac news service, Frontera
Mayor Rogelio Ramos Sanchez denied that Mexican soldiers were
involved in a rape in his municipality's red-light zone. Ramos
contended that he knew Ortiz "got lost," and strongly suggested that
the media "be very careful about what it says." Ortiz's disappearance
attracted the attention of the international journalist community.
The Mexico City-based Center for Journalism and Public Ethics sent
letters of concern to President Vicente Fox, Coahuila Governor
Humberto Moreira and David Vega, a special federal prosecutor for
crimes against journalists. Responding on behalf of Gov. Moreira,
Coahuila State Attorney General Jesus Torres Charles wrote, "We share
the concern that exists for Rafael Ortiz's physical safety, and for
the attack against freedom of expression and the press that this
incident could imply." Attorney General Torres pledged to devote the
state's full resources in an effort to locate Ortiz. Weeks later,
however, there is no sign of the disappeared journalist.

Sources: Frontera NorteSur (FNS): 08/11; La Jornada: 08/10; El Diario
de Juarez: 08/11; 08/09; El Universal: 08/08-09; 07/31, 08/08


The driver of a sport utility vehicle packed with suspected illegal
immigrants flipped over while trying to elude federal agents, killing
nine people and injuring 12, officials said. Five of the injured,
including a pregnant woman, were hospitalized in critical condition
in Yuma and Phoenix, most with head trauma. Five people were
pronounced dead along the road Monday while four others died at Yuma
Regional Medical Center, according to the U.S. Border Patrol. Three
men and six women died.

The Chevy Suburban was carrying 21 people - all Mexican citizens -
when the driver tried to circumvent a checkpoint on the highway more
than 30 miles north of Yuma, according to authorities. With Border
Patrol agents in pursuit, the driver attempted to make a U-turn and
rolled over, Border Patrol spokesman Lloyd Frers said.

Yuma County Sheriff's Maj. Leon Wilmot said the vehicle was traveling
faster than the posted speed limit of 50 mph at the time of the

The car had swerved to avoid a spike strip put out by Border Patrol
agents, Wilmot said. Border Patrol spokeswoman Agent Veronica Lozano
said she didn't know whether agents put out the device.

The Yuma County Sheriff's Office was investigating the crash, while
Immigration and Customs Enforcement was investigating
immigration-related aspects.

Scores of illegal immigrants die each year while crossing the Mexican
border into Arizona, many in car crashes. Smugglers often flee from
authorities at high speeds or overload vehicles, which makes them
difficult to control.

Nationwide, at least 291 illegal immigrants have died during border
crossing attempts from Oct. 1 through Sunday, Border Patrol spokesman
Gustavo Soto said. That includes 75 deaths due to heat exposure, 45
drownings, and 42 motor vehicle incidents.

The Yuma area, a sandy stretch of desert in southwestern Arizona, has
become one of the nation's busiest immigrant-smuggling hotspots.
President Bush visited the area in May as part of his push for a
sweeping overhaul of immigration laws.

Source: Associated Press: 08/08


By Greg Palast

In the six years since I first began investigating the burglary ring
we call "elections" in America, a new voting reform industry has
grown up. That's good. What's worrisome is that most of the effort is
focused on preventing the installation of computer voting machines.
Paper ballots, we're told, will save our democracy. Well, forget it.
Over the weekend, Mexico's ruling party showed how you can rustle an
election even with the entire population using the world's easiest
paper ballot.

On Saturday, Mexico's electoral tribunal, known as the "Trife" (say
"tree-fay") ordered a re-count of the ballots from the suspect July 2
vote for president. Well, not quite a recount as in "count all the
ballots" - but a review of just 9% of the nation's 130,000 precincts.
The "9% solution" was the Trife's ham-fisted attempt to chill out the
several hundred thousand protesting supporters of Andres Manuel Lopez
Obrador who had gathered in the capital and blocked its main Avenue.
Lopez Obrador, the leftist challenger known by his initials AMLO,
supposedly lost the presidential vote by just one half of one percent
of the vote. I say "supposedly" lost because, while George Bush
congratulated his buddy Felipe Calderon on his victory, the evidence
I saw on the ground in Mexico City fairly shrieks that the real
winner was challenger AMLO.

President Bush should consider some inconvenient truths about the
Mexican vote count:

First: The exit poll of 80,000 voters by the Instituto de
Mercadotecnia y Opinio'n showed that AMLO bested Calderon by 35.1% to

Second: The precinct-by-precinct returns were quite otherworldly. I
used to teach statistics and what I saw in Mexico would have stumped
my brightest students.

Here's the conundrum: The nation's tens of thousands of polling
stations report to the capital in random order after the polls close.
Therefore, statistically, you'd expect the results to remain roughly
unchanged as vote totals come in. As expected, AMLO was ahead of the
right-wing candidate Calderon all night by an unchanging margin -
until after midnight. Suddenly, precincts began reporting wins for
Calderon of five to one, then ten to one, then as polling nearly
ended, of a hundred to one. How odd. I checked my concerns with
Victor Romero, a professor at Mexico's National University, who
concluded that the reported results must have been a "miracle". As he
put it, a "religious event" but a statistical impossibility. There
were two explanations, said the professor: either the Lord was fixing
the outcome, or operatives of the ruling party were cranking in a
massive number of ballots when they realized their man was about to

How could they do it? "Easy peasy," as my kids would say. In Mexico,
the choices for president are on their own ballot with no other
offices listed. Those who don't want to vote for the president just
discard the ballot. There is no real ballot security. In areas
without reliable opposition observers (about a third of the nation),
anyone can stuff ballots into the loosely guarded cardboard boxes.
(AMLO showed a tape of one of these ballot-stuffing operations caught
in the act.) It's also absurdly easy to remove paper ballots,
disqualify them or simply mark them "nulo" ("null," unreadable). The
Trife, the official electoral centurions, rejected AMLO's request to
review those precincts that reported the miracle numbers. Nor would
the tribunal open and count the nearly one million "null" votes -
allegedly "uncountable" votes which totaled four times Calderon's
putative plurality.

Mexico's paper ballot, I would note, is the model of clarity - with
large images of each party which need only be crossed through. The
ruling party would have us believe that a million voters waited in
line, took a ballot, made no mark, then deliberately folded the
ballot and placed it in the ballot box, pretending they'd voted.
Maybe, as in Florida in 2000, those "unreadable" ballots were quite
readable. Indeed, the few boxes re-counted showed the "null" ballots
marked for AMLO. The Tribunal chose to check no further. The only
precincts the Trife ordered re-counted are those where the tally
sheets literally don't tally - precincts in which the arithmetic is
off. They refuse even to investigate those precincts where ballot
boxes were found in city dumps.

There are other "miracles" which the Trife chose to ignore: a weirdly
low turnout of only 44% in the state where Lopez Obrador is most
popular, Guerrero (Acapulco), compared to turnouts of over 60%
elsewhere. The votes didn't vanish, the ruling party explained,
rather the challenger's supporters, confident of victory, did not
bother to vote. Confident ... in Mexico? In other words, despite the
right to paper ballots, the election was fiddled, finagled and fixed.

Does this mean US activists should give up on the fight for paper
ballots and give in to robo-voting, computerized democracy in a box?
Hell, no! Lopez Obrador has put hundreds of thousands in the street
week after week demanding, "vota por vota" - recount every vote. But
AMLO's supporters can only demand a re-count because the paper ballot
makes a recount possible. Were Mexico's elections held on a Diebold
special, there would be no way to recount the electrons floating in
cyberspace. Paper ballots make democracy possible, but hardly
guarantee it. "Null" votes, not voters, have chosen Mexico's
president. The only other nation I know of with such a poisonously
high percentage of "null" votes is the "Estados Unidos", the USA. And
just as in Mexico, the "null" vote, the trashed, spoiled, rejected
ballots, overrode the voters' choice, so it was north of the Rio
Grande in 2000 and 2004. Ballot spoilage, not computer manipulation,
stole Ohio and Florida in those elections - and will steal Colorado
and New Mexico in the 2008 election.

In other words, my fellow gringo activists, we'd better stop fixating
on laptop legerdemain and pledge our lives and fortunes to stopping
the games played with registration rolls, provisional ballots,
absentee ballots, voter ID demands and the less glamorous, yet
horribly effective, methods used to suppress, invalidate and
otherwise ambush the vote.

: 08/07

The above articles were originally published and copyrighted by the
listed sources. These articles are offered for educational purposes
which CIS maintains is 'fair use' of copyrighted material as
provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law.

end: Mexico Week In Review: 08.07-08.13

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