Countdown to July
The Narco News Bulletin
The Stealing of the Guerrero State Election
Three of Our Special Election Report
southern Mexican state that includes the international tourist
Meccas of Acapulco, Zihuatanejo and Taxco -- is in many ways
a microcosm of Mexico itself.
Beyond its lucrative tourism
industry, Guerrero is rich in natural resources, including gold
and silver mines. Agriculturally fertile, especially in its selvatic
tropical regions, Guerrero produces food, lumber, and, in some
isolated mountain areas, marijuana and poppy. Straddling the
Pacific Ocean, it is an increasingly important route for South
American cocaine. The Narco News Bulletin addressed this
on our first day of publication, as the first item in the publisher's
Shots of Grace column.
Despite its great natural
wealth, most of Guerrero's citizens live in dire poverty. More
than 63-percent of its children suffer from malnutrition; 36-percent
of its infants are malnourished in the catagory of "high
risk." More than half of their parents are illiterate; 57-percent
live in homes with an earthen floor, and 69-percent of all homes
are either without potable water, electricity or adequate protection
from the elements.
Guerrero has a large rural
indigenous population and a long history of military-police repression
(see the Rudolfo
This has given birth to a history of guerrilla movements, the
most famous of which occured in the 1970s and led by the legendary
Lucio Cabañas and Genaro Vasquez. In recent years there
has been occassional fighting between military-police officials
and the Popular Revolutionary Army (EPR in its Spanish acronym)
and the Popular Indigenous Revolutionary Army (ERPI). Two recent
massacres by police and military against civilians -- Aguas Blancas
and El Charco -- have scandalized the conscience of the nation.
And yet, in Guerrero,
government repression is more focused on social activists and
political leaders who use electoral and peaceful means. In the
past decade, 30 leaders of the Democratic Revolution Party (PRD)
have been assassinated in Guerrero; many more have been kidnapped,
tortured, disappeared and persecuted in every manner imaginable.
There are at least 120 political prisoners in state penitentiaries.
Some were framed on drug charges -- just like the June 2000 Drug War
Heroes of the Month
in Chiapas -- including one popular school teacher upon whom
military officials at a roadblock planted marijuana (he spent
a year in prison before attorneys and human rights groups were
able to convince a judge that the contraband was imposed upon
him by the very soldiers who detained him.)
Explosion into civil war
has so far been detained by one factor only: The rise of Civil
One of 20,000
Guerrero citizens who walked 11 days to Mexico City to protest
D.R. 1999 Al Giordano
The traditional opposition
bases of rural farmers and fishermen, many of them indigenous,
are now joined in alliance by the middle classes of Acapulco
and other population centers. Small business owners, schoolteachers,
students, professionals, workers in the tourism industry, together
with the rural social movements, seized control of the PRD party
in recent years.
Whereas in some other
regions, the PRD has itself been plagued by electoral irregularities
and manipulations by former PRI members among others, the Guerrero
party has been remarkable in its strict adherence to democratic
principles. In 1999, the party members nominated through a state
primary the federal Senator Félix Salgado Macedonio as
their gubernatorial candidate.
Elected by the
People of Guerrero on February 7, 1999
March 7, 1999:
Chilpancingo, Guerrero -- beginning the "Exodus for Democracy"
to Mexico City
D.R. 1999 Al Giordano
Salgado, a folksy, outspoken
afficcionado of motorcycles with a sense of humor and a national
profile, brought his party to victory in 1999, only to see the
This is a very serious
claim to make. Here we will document exactly how the election
was stolen in Guerrero 1999.
The official results themselves
invite inquiry. They show a victory of less than one-percent
for the PRI candidate René Juárez: 421,505 votes
for the PRI candidate and 406,948 votes for the PRD candidate
Salgado. (The smattering of votes for three other parties --
including the once-formidable National Action Party, the PAN,
in Guerrero -- added up to slightly more than the difference
of around one percent.)
The Salgado forces were
able to, for the first time in the state's history, monitor all
of the 3,867 ballot locations throughout Guerrero.
They documented the following
acts of electoral fraud in 2,023 polling places; that is, more
than half the ballot boxes in the state:
-- Stuffing of ballot
-- Votes cast by deceased
-- massive participation
by federal military troops using other people's voter credentials
-- the disappearance of
known opposition voters from the voting lists
Exodus for Democracy
March 9, 1999
-- Mezcala, Guerrero
D.R. 1999 Al Giordano
These blatant vote-stealing
practices fall under the catagory of Traditional Fraud which
the ruling party tends to invoke only when it has its back against
the wall, as it did in Guerrero on February 7, 1999.
In 729 of these polling
places, the fraud was serious enough that under Mexican federal
and state election law it merited complete disqualification of
the tally. But the laws that exist were not invoked or accepted
by the state and federal election tribunals.
That they admit that the
opposition candidate counted with 48-percent of the vote indicates
that he likely received closer to 60-percent of the votes cast.
Ten percent of the tally represents what was robbed between the
voter and the official results. (Thus, it is not surprising that
in this year's presidential election, PAN candidate Vicente Fox
has used the 10-percent figure as the threshold he feels that
the PRI must have this July 2nd to claim credible democratic
Also interesting is that
TV Azteca -- no friend of the Mexican opposition movements, as
established in other Narco News stories -- contracted
with an exit poll company on this day in Guerrero: it found a
57-percent vote for Félix Salgado. The polling company,
The Rosenbleuth Foundation was quietly fired by the TV station
shortly after the election.
The state election tribunal
has been appointed by the previous PRI governor, a ruthless political
boss named Ruben Figueroa (son of the governor by the same name,
who had to step down due to his responsibility for the Aguas
Blancas and El Charco massacres, but who remains at the helm
of the party apparatus). It completely disregarded the overwhelming
evidence of electoral fraud.
And so 20,000 Guerrero
citizens, led by Salgado, began an 11-day walk from the state
capital of Chilpancingo to Mexico City, to appeal to the Federal
Election Tribunal, known as the TRIFE.
The official campaign
expenditures in the 1999 Guerrero election amounted to $9 million
US dollars -- about $25 per vote (that is, a week's salary in
Beyond that official figure
was exposed a massive campaign of secret expenditures using both
government funds and mysterious sources of cash (see yesterday's
story on narco-money in the Mexican elections).
The 20,000 marchers brought
with them to Mexico city videotape of local PRI leaders purchasing
voter credentials from impoverished citizens and distributing
warehouses and truckloads full of consumer goods through the
local political bosses in exchange for votes or credentials:
food, clothing, bags of cement, aluminum roof materials -- known
as dispensas among the poor.
In the days before the
February 7th election, warehouses and truckloads of these materials
were detected by local citizens in various regions, opened up
by the force of masses of protestors, demonstrated to the press,
and then distributed to the population in an open manner regardless
of who they would support in the election. But these were merely
examples of efforts that went awry in a more systematic official
vote-buying effort that took place across the state.
The 20,000 marchers arrived
in Mexico City on March 18th, and set up camp outside the TRIFE
Salgado, after the 11-day, 300 kilometer walk to Mexico City,
speaking at a demonstration on the gigantic Zócalo, "full
like never before," said La Jornada.
D.R. 1999 Al Giordano
More than two dozen boxes
of documents were delivered that proved the election had been
stolen. They documented more than $4 million US dollars in state
funds used to buy the vote. But the TRIFE refused to accept the
documentation of illegal use of government funds -- including
documents uncovered from within the Guerrero state government
-- as evidence of fraud.
The TRIFE also disregarded
photos and videos provided of the PRI's "ghost computer
system" that had been linked by telephone wires to the state's
own vote-counting system.
In the corridors of federal
government power, PRI functionaries whispered that indeed they
had stolen the vote -- this, according to La Jornada's politically-connected
columnist Julio Hernández López -- but that the
fraud was necessary for reasons of "national security."
Guerrero is not on the
border of any other country. Nor are there any foreign islands
off the coast. The "national security" question is
that Salgado is one of the few national level politicians in
Mexico who has not been linked to the narco. To the contrary,
Félix Salgado, on the floor of the Senate, was the first
to point the finger at Quintana Roo governor Mario Villanueva
and expose that he was protecting the cocaine trafficking industry.
Later, Villanueva fled as a fugitive and is now chased by Interpol
as an international drug trafficker.
Guerrero's only geopolitical
importance to Mexico is as a route for cocaine.
The US Ambassador to Mexico
Jeffrey Davidow played his part in this sad tale of democracy
stolen. As the post-electoral movement against the election fraud
was gearing up, Davidow published a US State Department Traveler's
Advisory warning trousists to avoid Acapulco and the state capital
of Chilpancingo because of an undocumented "threat"
of guerrilla violence.
The threat never materialized.
The peaceful mobilization of Civil Society that Davidow sought
to discredit and tarnish with this violent brush remained strictly
nonviolent. More nefarious was that Davidow's revenge served
as a message of punishment to tourist-dependent Acapulco -- as
an urban area, ballot box tampering was not possible there due
to so many eyewitnesses -- where voters delivered a 40,000-vote
margin of victory to Salgado and the opposition.
government plaza in Chilpancingo, Guerrero, was filled by citizens
who saw their election stolen. The illigitimate governor, imposed
by electoral fraud, had to hold his inauguration in a different
place, surrounded by armed guards. The people of Guerrero continue
their peaceful struggle for democracy.
D.R. 1999 Al Giordano
But what can the majority
of Mexicans hope for on July 2nd, when only last year the massive
election fraud of Guerrero was endorsed not only by Mexican officials,
but also by the United States?
And thus, in the poorest
Mexican state of Guerrero, the path was paved for The Stealing
of Mexico on July 2, 2000.