Mexico: Over 1 million rally, demand vote recount

MEXICO CITY — In the wake of growing public protest to force authorities to recount the vote, including a rally last week of over 1.5 million people in this city’s central square, more evidence of electoral wrongdoing during the July 2 elections continues to surface.

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, presidential candidate of the leftist coalition For the Good of All, told a rally here July 16 that they have discovered that 60 percent of “acts” (voting results of each poll) have some sort of falsification, up from 30 percent reported last week.

The common defects found were: votes exceed the reported results; votes cast for Lopez Obrador were not counted, while votes for Felipe Calderon, presidential candidate of the National Action Party (PAN), were inflated; and votes cast for Lopez Obrador did not equal the number of votes cast for his running mates for the Senate and Chamber of Deputies. Lopez Obrador also said there are a million and a half more votes counted than people who actually voted.

Lopez Obrador, who maintains that he won the presidential race, said that big business and PAN do not have the right to impose their own presidential candidate through fraud. He vowed to continue organizing peaceful protests to force the Federal Electoral Institute (IFE) to recount the vote. Only then will he accept any official results, he said.

The July 16 protest here was the biggest so far. A million and a half people marched from the Museum of Anthropology to the Zocalo, where President Vicente Fox has his office. Smaller protest marches took place across the country.

Academics from the physics, chemistry and mathematics institutes and the faculty of sciences of the National Autonomous University of Mexico released a report indicating that computer fraud took place, producing a false victory for Calderon. The report urges the Federal Electoral Tribunal to recount the vote using a computer system different from that of IFE.

Lopez Obrador and his coalition are also protesting that IFE has illegally opened 40 percent of the ballot boxes. They say that IFE did not get approval from the Federal Electoral Tribunal to open the ballot boxes and that there were no representatives from the parties to oversee the process, as the law requires. IFE said that it had received permission from the federal tribunal to open the boxes. The left-wing coalition is fearful that IFE could alter the voting results in order to cover up election fraud.

A source in Mexico’s military intelligence services told the World in an interview that there was “a plot on July 2 to commit electoral fraud in order to prevent Lopez Obrador from winning the presidency.”

“A network of interests were involved that included businessmen, the media, PAN, the Institutional Revolutionary Party [PRI] and their friends,” the source said. To cover their tracks, they left no paper trail.

The first level of fraud began in the 50,000 polling places (out of 130,000) where Lopez Obrador’s coalition For the Good of All had no representatives to oversee voting, allowing PAN and PRI to manipulate vote counts and stuff ballot boxes. In some cases, PAN and PRI officials paid bribes to Good of All coalition representatives to “look the other way” while they committed fraud. In other cases, defects with the voting results were honest mistakes made by staff who were not given proper training by IFE.

The second level of fraud occurred within IFE, which is dominated by PAN and PRI officials, the source said. Software supplied by Calderon’s brother-in-law’s firm Hildebrando produced a victory for Calderon, erasing votes that Lopez Obrador recieved.

Calderon is the favored candidate of the Bush administration. PAN is asking the Federal Electoral Tribunal “to not give into the blackmail and personal whims” of Lopez Obrador. Lopez Obrador and his coalition are challenging the election results before the tribunal, which has until Sept. 6 to resolve the dispute and declare a presidential winner. PAN is also challenging some polls where its leftist rival won.

PAN Secretary Arturo Garcia Portillo said Lopez Obrador’s call for a vote recount is a “pretext” to hide his intent to never recognize Calderon’s electoral victory. PAN opposes a vote recount, maintaining that the July 2 elections were fair. However, Calderon said recently he would support a recount in some polls.