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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: La balle est dans le camp du Tribunal électoral mexicain

by Francoise Escarpit

Mexico: The Ball is in the Electoral Tribunal’s Court

Translated by John O’Neil

Translated Monday 17 July 2006, by John O’Neil

Mexico. The Left has made several appeals to the electoral authorities demanding recounts of all the votes. Lopez Obrador called for a national march on the capital beginning Wednesday July 12th.

Mexico, special correspondent

On 2 July, José, a teacher, David, a doctor, and Valentino, a farmer went to their Suljaa’ polling station as they had for the municipal elections last October. In this village of 20,000 inhabitants, in the mountains on the border between the Guerrero and Oaxaca states, everyone knows everyone else, Amuzgos and mestizos alike. So the three men were astonished to find out that they had been removed from the electoral rolls. They protested but nothing was done for them. Like tens of thousands of other people in the country, they were disenfranchised. However, the difference that officially separates the two main presidential candidates Felipe Calderón of the National Action Party (PAN, right-wing conservative) and Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) of the Democratic Revolution Party (PRD, leftist) is about two votes per polling station.

Long-time militants

Curiously, José David and Valentino have been long-time militants for democracy in a region where many have paid with their lives battling against the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) bosses for self-management, the defense of Amerindian languages, the development of bilingual education, the defense of the land, and also for the PRD.

Very far from Suljaa’ in the capital, AMLO is not budging. He continues to call for opening all of the ballot boxes and recounting all of the votes one by one. The demand was made officially at the Electoral Tribunal of the Federal Judiciary (TEPJF). By making this appeal AMLO blames neither the citizens who held the polling stations, nor those who examined the ballots. The fraud seems much more sophisticated than the simple stuffing of ballot boxes, it was organized at the top with the complicity of the Federal Electoral Institute (IFE).

More and more Mexicans are supporting AMLO’s claim. Ordinary citizens across the political spectrum, including intellectuals like writer Fernando del Paso and magistrates and constitutional law specialists who see that Felipe Calderón has much to gain from the recount if he indeed obtained more votes than his opponent. He would then be seen as the legitimate winner whereas in the current situation he will be in a weaker position when he takes office on 1 December. The electoral tribunal has annulled gubernatorial elections in the states of Tabasco and Colima but never a presidential election.

An informational assembly

On 9 July, AMLO held his “first informational assembly” in front of more than 200,000 people to defend the vote and to ensure that Article 41 of the Mexican constitution be respected. It states that elections must be carried out with “certainty, legality, independence and objectivity.” He has called for Mexicans to participate in a peaceful national march for democracy from all of the states to Mexico City beginning Wednesday 12 July and culminating on Sunday, 16 July with a second informational assembly.

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