By RICARDO CASTILLO
It is said in Mexican political jargon that if the river is making noise, it’s because water is running. In this case, the rumor bouncing around everywhere in Mexico is that the President Enrique Peña Nieto administration is preparing to commit a “mega-fraud” in the traditional style of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) for the upcoming July 1 elections.
Many a government move points in that direction. The most recent such action is the onslaught carried out by the PRI against three-party coalition candidate Ricardo Anaya, who stands accused of money laundering, but has so far not been charged with any wrongdoing. It’s all hearsay carried out by the government-run Attorney General’s Office (PGR), which claims it is investigating candidate Anaya but files no charges.
The general outcry is that Peña Nieto is already using government institutions such as the PGR to undermine – in the Anaya case – a candidate that’s not even the top contender, but running second place in the polls. The problem at hand is that the president’s own candidate, José Antonio Meade Kuribreña, is lagging in a torpid third place in the polls and not showing any signs of picking up steam among voters.
But that’s only the latest indication that an electoral fraud is in the making. Nearly three weeks ago, 44 political science scholars from Mexico, the United States and Canada held a symposium at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) and came up with the conclusion that the potential of an electoral fraud by the PRI and its mastermind Peña Nieto is very real. The scholars met in a program known as Dialogues For Democracy that can be checked out in Spanish at www.dialogosporlademocraciaunam.mx.
At that symposium, the conclusion was that there were three leading hints that Peña Nieto is paving the ground to steal the upcoming election. The first one is that the “Mexican elite” gets scared every time it sees that an unwanted candidate begins to gain popularity, as is currently the case with candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) of Morena. Most participants in the symposium agreed that history has it that in the 1952, 1988, 2006 and 2012 elections there was fraud. Noticeably, AMLO ran in the 2006 and 2012 elections and most definitely, he is not a favorite of the Mexican business class because he is “a populist,” whatever that may mean in the Trump era.
A second indication of a potential mega-fraud-in-the-making is the 2017 state elections in Coahuila and the State of Mexico. In both cases, the scholars concluded that both the PRI and the presidency of the republic applied extensively and intensely the “fraud protocol” that they claim “has been perfected over past decades.” Both states, it should be noted, have been governed by the PRI since the late 1920s.
The third hint pointed to the influence of the United States government on the grounds that it validated the “obscene and shameless electoral fraud” in the recent Honduras election and arm-twisted other nations – including Mexico – to recognize the allegedly fraudulent results of the Honduran election. The U.S. government’s “eagle eye” – in the words of one leftwing columnist – is focused on its “next prey,” namely the Mexican elections. (On this issue, there is some evidence since soon-to-be former U.S. Ambassador Roberta Jacobson had said that the U.S. government would work with whoever was legally elected, but then U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson showed up in Mexico and asked Ms. Jacobson for her resignation, which, of course, she duly turned in. Isn’t this cause for suspicion?)
In all fairness, not just to Peña Nieto, but also to the electoral organizers at the National Electoral Institute (INE) and the Electoral Tribunal, all three have said that they contradict even the suspicion of fraud in the elections. They claim they are playing by the book and a week ago last Sunday, INE officials announced that on July 1 at 11 p.m. they would proclaim the victor of the election after what’s called “a fast count” and avoid the warning issued by the Electoral Tribunal that an imprecise fast count may spur losers to file a juridical complaint to condemn the fast count’s results.
In any case, the rumor of the brewing of a mega-fraud is very much in the air and, of course, the main suspects are the president, definitely the PRI, but also the INE and the Electoral Tribunal judges.
But in the end what most Mexicans want is fair and clean elections and ro let the real winner of the electoral process be the next president. The political reality is that Mexicans want a clean democracy – the nation is ready for it – and to let, once and for all, the voice of the majority rule.