<i>"The Name of Our Country is América" - Simon Bolivar</i> The Narco News Bulletin<br><small>Reporting on the War on Drugs and Democracy from Latin America
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Death by Video: Mexico’s Election Fraud Is Coming Undone

Video and Audio Evidence, an Outraged Citizenry, and Panic from the White House Are Converging to Make López Obrador the Next Mexican President


By Al Giordano
Part III of a Special Series for The Narco News Bulletin

July 11, 2006

At six p.m. last night, Monday, July 10, neighbors of the office of the Federal Electoral Institute (IFE, in its Spanish initials) in Comalcalco, Tabasco, witnessed a crime against democracy. They didn’t just stand there. They did something about it. And this one small example of the fighting spirit of the Mexican people explains why the historic presidential election fraud of July 2, 2006 will not stand.

Nine days after the fact, neither the IFE, nor President Vicente Fox, nor his National Action Party (PAN), nor their candidate Felipe Calderón, nor the Commercial Media at their service, have been able to reassert control over the juggernaut of facts, audio and video evidence, and public outrage that today tramples their anti-democratic gambit. The Fraud of 2006, and those who attempted it, are drowning under an authentically democratic tide. Take, for example, what just occurred in the Tabasco town of Comalcalco.


A picture saves 70,000 votes: Monday night in Comalcalco, Tabasco.
Photo: D.R. 2006 La Jornada
Study this photograph from today’s La Jornada. A campaign truck covered with PAN party logos, slogans, and the faces of three of their candidates – the one in the middle is Calderón – is parked in front of a building. From the balcony of the colonial-style structure shines an illuminated sign with three large letters: I… F… E. Citizens have arrived by foot and by bicycle and have blocked the entrances to the IFE building and the PAN truck. Not all of them appear in the photo, but there are 500 of them and they are hopping mad. Trapped inside are at least ten IFE officials who, according to eyewitnesses, illegally entered the building, brought sealed ballot boxes out into the patio, and began to open them, breaking the official seals. They were seen revising anew the “actas” with the vote tallies and recounting the ballots, without, as the law requires, the presence of representatives from all the political parties. The neighbors sounded the alarm and the electoral delinquents have been caught in the act.

Where are the soldiers of the Mexican Army that supposedly are guarding the ballot boxes at the 300 IFE offices like this one throughout the country? What about the police? The events last night in Comalcalco reveal the ugly truth: the highest authorities of the nation, in their complicity with an obvious electoral fraud, have forfeited their legitimacy and the people have self-organized to fill the power vacuum. They have converted the IFE offices into a prison for white-collar criminals and have seized the PAN truck that, the neighbors believe, was waiting to carry their votes to democracy’s graveyard.

La Jornada reports:

“The electoral assistants argued that the (IFE) district council president, Tomás Alfonso Castellanos, told them to enter the offices and for that reason the military soldiers that guarded the locale allowed them to enter.”

The IFE electoral district with its seat in Comalcalco delivered a punishing 70,000 vote margin of victory to presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador of the Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) over the PAN’s Calderón: 73,473 for Obrador vs. only 3,863 for Calderón. Voter turnout in this district, at 70.08 percent, exceeded the national average of 58.9 percent. The PAN has almost no votes to protect in Comalcalco. The PAN party truck – now held by the citizens – was there to haul away and “disappear” the votes cast for Obrador.

When local PRD officials contacted the IFE boss in the Tabasco state capital of Villahermosa, Aída Castillo, to report the tampering of the ballots and ask about the alibi that the IFE had authorized the opening of sealed ballot boxes, Castillo, reports La Jornada, said she was “surprised” by the news. The locals then contacted a notary public to come take legal testimony about the unauthorized break-in. PRD officials then headed to the offices of the Special Prosecutor for Attention to Electoral Crimes in Villahermosa to file a legal complaint. Federal Senator César Raúl Ojeda of the PRD, a close ally of López Obrador, headed to Comalcalco as La Jornada filed its story last night and, at press time, the ten IFE officials and the PAN truck chauffer, caught red-handed, were still held prisoner inside the offices.

This story reveals some presumptions on the part of the electoral delinquents of the IFE and the PAN. The most important one is that even they now believe that a recount is inevitable. If they truly believed their own publicly stated hype – that the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (Trife, as it is known) will not require a recount – there would have been no need to sneak into enemy territory and illegally open ballot boxes. The criminal operation would only be necessary if a recount is in the cards and, thus, the need to disappear López Obrador’s votes. The other presumption that this crime story unmasks is that the IFE and the PAN know that a recount will show López Obrador the rightful winner of the presidential election. For if, as PAN insists, it already counts with a majority of votes nationwide, there would be no necessity to unseal and tamper with the Comalcalco ballot boxes that contain 20 Obrador votes for every single Calderón vote.

The jig is up. In the absence of a legitimate governmental authority, the people of Comalcalco have offered a preview of what will occur, soon, throughout Mexico if the government of Vicente Fox continues in its attempts to steal the 2006 election.

Terms of Denouement

On Monday, the PAN party of Calderón and Fox offered another indication that it knows it did not receive enough legitimate votes to sustain its claim that Calderón won the election. After eight days of insisting that there must not be a recount, that it would be “illegal” to have one, that the Trife judges will never allow it, the PAN filed a motion with the Trife yesterday calling for recounts in six states won by López Obrador: Mexico City, Veracruz, Oaxaca, Guerrero, State of Mexico and Tabasco. It has now adopted the very same legal recourse that, in previous days, the PAN viciously attacked. The legal maneuver reveals the PAN’s lack of faith in its own claims that it won the election and also demonstrates that the PAN now believes a recount is, contrary to its public claims, going to occur.

In the days before, PAN officials claimed that the elections were “clean, transparent and without irregularities.” The latest move indicates that its spokesmen don’t believe their own claims.


IFE Official in the PAN-stronghold of Salamanca, Guanajuato, caught on video tape, stuffs a ballot box.
Photo: D.R. 2006 La Jornada
Also on Monday, candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador released a video in which an election official in Salamanca, Guanajuato (the PAN-dominated state that Narco News has compared to Florida in U.S. post-electoral conflicts due to the high concentration of documented irregularities and outright frauds carried out by election officials there) is caught stuffing many ballots into a ballot box. Captured on video, he sports a blue-and-white shirt (PAN’s campaign and logo colors) and has quite the guilty look on his face as he stuffs one ballot after another into the box. In the Salamanca district, IFE reported that Calderón received 93,062 votes to 23,278 for Obrador. The video – so newsworthy that even pro-PAN TV Azteca broadcast it yesterday – has further fueled the public anger; an image worth a thousand words and a to-be-determined part of seventy thousand votes. (As soon as someone gets it online, Narco News will link to it; in the meantime, here is a photo of the perp caught in the act.)

Video, audio and photographic evidence of election fraud surges daily. It is the dominant news story in Mexico. Obrador released a similar video of election officials in PAN-controlled Querétaro changing the vote tallies to create more votes for its candidate. The PAN does not deny the facts. It simply claims that those cases amounted to normal, allowed, functions by election officials. The public temper rises with every such justification.

On Saturday, during a massive “informational assembly” on the Mexico City Zócalo, Obrador played hardball. Through the speakers, before half-a-million people, he played audiotape of an election-day telephone conversation between Fox’s transportation secretary Pedro Cerisola and Tamaulipas Governor Eugenio Hernández Flores, and of a similar conversation between that same governor and the detested national teachers’ union president Elba Esther Gordillo. The full transcription of those conversations can be read in Spanish here. The governor of that northern Gulf of Mexico border state is a member of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and so is the teachers’ union leader. On the tape, she tells the governor that his party’s candidate, Roberto Madrazo, is, according to exit polls, far behind, and urges the PRI governor to contact PAN candidate Felipe Calderón “to sell him what you have,” because “the PRI has already fallen.” She repeats: “Given the fall, I think it would be interesting for you to speak with Felipe (Calderón) and sell it to him.”

Gordillo said, in that recorded telephone conversation, that she knew that “the hard vote has already been cast.” Clearly she wasn’t trying to convince the PRI governor to turn out new votes for Calderón. The only thing the governor would have available to “sell” at that point in the Election Day was how the votes would be counted. The governor, Hernández, thanked her for her call and reassured her, “yes, I think everything is going well.” He also offered to call a neighboring PRI governor in Coahuila to cut the same deal. In the taped conversation with the Secretary of Transportation, the governor pledged to speak with the rest of the PRI governors – indicating they had a meeting scheduled in Toluca that day – saying, “sure, we are with this… that’s how it is. That is our conviction and that is how a group of friends and colleagues decided some weeks ago when we saw that this could close this way, that it could occur.”


Andrés Manuel López Obrador revealed more video proof of electoral fraud on Tuesday.
Photo: D.R. 2006 El Universal
The wide interpretation on the Zócalo and throughout Mexico is that the PRI governors cut a deal with Fox and the PAN to not only turn a blind eye to election fraud in their states to favor Calderón, but also to actively use their powers as governors to participate in making it happen: after all, the PRI wrote the book on how to commit election fraud during the decades that it governed the country prior to Fox and the PAN.

The death by video, audio, digital photos and eyewitness reports by the Mexican citizenry now cuts at Calderón’s non-existent “victory” daily. Today, Tuesday, López Obrador presented two more videos. One, from election night in Zacapoaxtla, Puebla, which shows IFE officials preventing the public counting of votes required by law. The other, from the Tabasco town where this report began: Comalcoalco. It shows the IFE officials illegally opening the sealed ballot boxes there yesterday. Every single day, new evidence of blatant fraud appears. The revolution may not be televised, but it is being videotaped.

Bush Backpedals from Calderón

Still more bad news for Calderón and those who seek to impose him in a fraudulent presidency arrived on Monday. It came from Washington, DC, during a White House press briefing by Tony Snow, press secretary for George W. Bush.

It’s no secret that the Bush administration has rooted for Calderón, the right-winger in the Mexican contest. The U.S. president even called Calderón to congratulate him last week. The best evidence that political reality has changed in few days is how the White House is suddenly hanging Calderón out to dry. Part of the story is that Calderón, in a political maneuver designed to mask the volatile fact that he has been Bush’s boy all along, issued a statement last week – after Bush called him – that postured to be against the construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. At Monday’s White House press briefing, reporters asked the Bush press secretary for a response. In the transcript, the reporters’ questions are indicated by the letter Q, and the White House press secretary’s responses by the words “Mr. Snow”:

Q All right, then what do you think—or what does the administration say about a foreign politician denouncing domestic legislation in the United States, and particularly Calderon’s denunciation of stronger border security and an extended fence?

MR. SNOW: Last time I checked, Calderon did not have any official authority over the activities of the United States government.

Q Can I follow up on that?

MR. SNOW: Yes, very quickly. Sure.

Q The call the President made to Calderon to congratulate him, that means that the U.S. government already recognized him as the President-elect of Mexico? Can you explain what —

MR. SNOW: Well, I believe the electoral commission had, in fact, declared him President. And according to the laws of Mexico, at this point, he is President. Should there be a recount, should there be another adjustment, should there be a change, then the President will acknowledge that, as well—Mexico, obviously having the ability to decide who, as a result of transparent elections, is the President of the country.

It is newsworthy to note that the White House press secretary is confused on certain facts. The president of Mexico today and through December 1 is Vicente Fox, not Calderón, who is not even president-elect. The IFE – “the electoral commission” referred to by Snow – does not have the legal authority to declare the winner. That power, under the Mexican Constitution, is reserved for the Trife electoral tribunal, which has so far remained mum, awaiting the legal challenges and documentation to be able to rule on them.

But the more earthshaking declaration out of the White House yesterday was the verbal smackdown of Calderón – “Last time I checked, Calderon did not have any official authority” – and the declaration that “the President will acknowledge” the results of a recount.

The bigger problem for George W. Bush than that of who is president of Mexico is that of who is president of the United States. The exploding story of massive electoral fraud in Mexico next-door is having an unintended consequence: It is awakening historic memory of the electoral frauds carried out to make Bush president up North.

If Mexican authorities continue to stonewall and impose Calderón as president, they will provoke 300 Comalcalcos at each of IFE’s regional headquarters and its national seat, converting those offices, as occurred last night in Tabasco, into white collar prisons, from which the electoral delinquents will not escape. That kind of turn of events will bring with it Bolivian-style highway blockades, and the corresponding halt of the flow of food, oil and other necessities from fertile Southern Mexico to Northern Mexico (as dry season begins; provoking a massive exodus of immigrants across the border while simultaneously stopping the flow of food and goods to the United States). And, with the fresh history of the political rise of a Mexican-American immigrant protest movement on the U.S. side of the border, the conflict will not be containable only in Mexico.

The consequences of trying to impose a Mexican president by fraud have already grown out of anybody’s control: Not Fox, not Bush, not even López Obrador would be able to hold back the masses. What occurred last night in Comalcalco, Tabasco is a glimpse of the nightmare to come for those in power if they do not permit the Mexican electorate’s will.

The IFE and the PAN are in check, soon to be checkmate. In that political reality, the only path for survival by those in power is to permit a recount of ballots, and hope that no more signs of tampering occur in its course. As of last night, the only feasible path for the system became to get out of the way of the presidency of Andrés Manuel López Obrador. This electoral game will soon be over. And then a whole “other” chapter will begin.

To be continued…

Read Part I of this series: In Mexico, 2.5 Million Missing Votes Reappear: López Obrador Reduces Calderón’s Official Margin to 0.6 percent

Read Part II: A Full Recount Would Show that López Obrador Won Mexico’s Presidency by More than One Million Votes

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