Le Monde diplomatique
By Ignacio Ramonet
The election was a clear case of fraud on a massive scale, as the president of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, agreed, while the 25 European Union foreign ministers expressed “grave concern”. Indeed the Netherlands foreign minister declared: “It is important that we convey in the clearest possible terms the concern of the European Union and member states over the result of the presidential election”.
Reporters without Borders noted that that this election “followed four years of continuous and unprecedented degradation of the press in the country”.
Prominent figures in Washington, among them Colin Powell, Henry Kissinger and Zbigniew Brzezinski, affirmed that the US could not recognise the official results. The National Democratic Institute, chaired by former secretary of state Madeleine Albright; Freedom House, chaired by James Woolsey, former head of the CIA; the American Enterprise Institute, of which former president Gerald Ford is a moving spirit; the Open Society Institute and its founder and chairman George Soros, all made accusations about massive manipulation and called for economic sanctions. President Bush’s special envoy, the chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee, Senator Richard Lugar, also declared openly: “It is apparent that there has been a concerted and forceful programme of election day fraud and abuse enacted with either the leadership or cooperation of governmental authorities.”
Perhaps you don’t remember reading any of these reactions to the recent presidential elections in Mexico? That’s because none of the eminent people or institutions I mentioned said a single word about what just happened in Mexico. The quotes are perfectly authentic but were actually made about the presidential elections in Ukraine on 23 November 2004 (1).
The international community and the usual organisations devoted to the defence of freedom that have been so active in Serbia, Georgia, Ukraine and more recently in Belarus, have been notably silent about the electoral coup conducted before our eyes in Mexico (2). Imagine the global outcry if this election had been held in Venezuela and the victor, by the slightest margin of 0.56%, had been Hugo Chávez.
There were two main candidates in the Mexican election on 2 July: Felipe Calderón of the ruling Catholic rightwing National Action party (PAN), provisionally declared by the Federal Electoral Institute to be the winner, and Andrés Manuel López Obrador of the moderate leftwing Democratic Revolutionary party.Long before the campaign got under way, it was clear to President Vicente Fox (PAN) and the ruling authorities that López Obrador and his programme to end poverty must be beaten, by fair means or foul. Attempts were made to discredit him in 2004 by secret videotapes broadcast on the government-backed Televisa and TV Azteca channels, but without success.
In 2005, on the absurd pretext that a hospital approach road had failed to comply with building regulations, he was charged, found guilty, locked up and declared unfit to stand for election. Faced with massive demonstrations of support for him, the authorities were finally forced to restore his rights.
But the derogatory propaganda continued through the campaign, reaching alarming proportions (3). Latin American oligarchs and the US administration were panic-stricken, since the left was taking over almost everywhere, in Venezuela, Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, Chile and Bolivia, as it once had in Cuba.
In this context, victory for López Obrador (if it is victory: the electoral court will deliver its verdict on 6 September) would have serious geopolitical consequences, which is something that Mexican bosses, the mass media and Washington want to avoid at all costs, even if it means sacrificing democracy.
However, López Obrador and the Mexican people may still have something to say on the subject.
More about Ignacio Ramonet.
Translated by Barbara Wilson
(1) The idea of comparing reactions to the elections in Ukraine and Mexico was developed in “Doing Maths in Mexico”, Guardian, London, 17 July 2006.
(2) For an account of the fraud, see the report by the Centro de derechos humanos Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas, www.sipaz.org/documentos/obsdd cp/el...
(3) On the violence of the attacks, see John Ross, “All Against López Obrador”, Counterpunch, 6 April 2006.
English language editorial director: Wendy