News Release

Unrest Over Election-Rigging Charges in Mexico


The Los Angeles Times reported this morning: “As President Vicente Fox prepares to deliver his final state of the nation address today, Mexico remains divided over who should be declared his successor, and many fear an escalation in unrest by protesters who feel betrayed by the electoral institutions Fox is expected to applaud in his speech.”

AP is reporting: “Lopez Obrador has cried fraud over the narrow lead of the conservative National Action Party’s Calderon. Thousands of his supporters set up protest camps in Mexico City’s financial and historical districts, snarling traffic in the metropolis of 20 million for months.

“On Wednesday, the Washington-based Center for Economic and Policy Research, an independent, nonpartisan think tank, said in a report it found half of the 126,139 ballot box tallies had mathematical errors.

“‘Without a full recount, it’s hard to have confidence in the result of a close election like this, especially with such a huge level of errors,’ said Mark Weisbrot, the report’s co-author.”

Weisbrot said today: “Half of all ballot boxes suffer from ‘adding up’ errors, and the withholding of information by Mexico’s electoral authorities has undermined the credibility of election results.

“Mexico’s electoral authorities conducted a partial recount of 9 percent of the votes from August 9 to August 13. There is no obvious legitimate reason for refusing to announce the results of this recount.

“The recount was conducted very much like the preliminary and second vote counts, although independent observers were not allowed to witness the recount. Ballot boxes were opened, ballots counted, totals recorded, and tally sheets signed by witnesses and judges. In the previous vote counts, the results were made public immediately.”

Weisbrot added: “Although totals for the recount are not yet available, information from witnesses indicates that PAN candidate Felipe Calderon lost thousands of votes but Andrés Manuel López Obrador lost almost none.

“Election workers received a fixed and recorded number of blank ballots for each ballot box, and were instructed to keep track of them. Yet for nearly half of all ballot boxes, the total votes plus leftover blank ballots did not add up to the number of ballots received.”

The report, “An Analysis of Discrepancies in the Mexican Presidential Election Results,” is available at CEPR [PDF].
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Gilberto López Rivas is an anthropologist with the National Institute of Anthropology and History in Mexico City and a frequent contributor to La Jornada, a Mexican daily. He said today: “There is real anger here as many Mexicans are going to the streets to demand a clean election. They are fearful that the incumbent party is trying to steal the election. Ten days ago, the Mexican military took control of the area around the Congress and there are reports coming out in the Mexican press of government plans to use paramilitary groups to undermine protests. These and many other factors are leading many to conclude that the government is making a mockery of democracy in Mexico, especially given a history of stolen elections in Mexico.”
English translation of La Jornada
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Gibler is a Global Exchange human rights fellow who has been writing from Mexico since January.
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Recently back from Mexico, Collins is a senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies and part-time resident of Oaxaca, Mexico. He accompanied election observers in seven communities in rural Oaxaca on Election Day where he witnessed voter coercion and vote buying. Collins said today: “If the Mexican Electoral Tribunal declares Felipe Calderon the next president, we will see permanent protests by the people who believe the election was stolen and have not benefitted from the National Action Party’s pro-U.S., free trade policies. Mexico’s hotly contested election shows a deeply divided country, where business as usual policies will do little to halt the millions of Mexicans who flee their poverty-stricken homes destined for the United States.”

Collins has written several recent columns: “Evidence of Election Fraud Grows in México,” August 2, 2006; “U.S. Media Butt Out of Mexican Election,” on July 5; “Mexican Election in Limbo,” on July 3.

Collins is also knowledgable about the unrest in Oaxaca State as 70,000 striking teachers and citizens press for the resignation of Governor Ulises Ruiz.
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167