By RICARDO CASTILLO
A small incident provoked by a well-known journalist highlighted a problem that is beleaguering the current Mexican electoral process.
Over the past weekend, the news that political columnist Ricardo Alemán had been fired by two television stations was news. Curiously enough, Alemán was not fired for any content in his two political programs. He was fired for forwarding a tweet containing the following comment interpreting calling for the murder of leftwing candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO).
“John Lennon was killed by a fan. Versace was killed by a fan. Selena was killed by a fan. What are you waiting for, chairos. They are talking to you.”
In Mexico, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that Alemán was talking about López Obrador. The word “chairos” has been used since internet days began in Mexico to describe leftwingers in the social media. It is a blatant derogatory term used mostly by conservatives.
Of course. in the news media of which I am a part of, this small incident was highly talked about and demarks a limit to many commentators as to how far you can go in either direction.
But more than that, it brought concern to the followers of Andrés Manuel López Obrador because during the campaign he has refused to accept military protection offered to him not just by the government but the National Electoral Institute (INE), which provides protection to all candidates.
AMLO says the people love him and protect him. He roams all over the nation among crowds who, up until now, have not meant harm to him, but deep in the political subconscious of Mexicans lies the image of Luis Donaldo Colosio, who was murdered by a lone gunman mingled in a crowd in Tijuana. For most Mexicans, given the way it was investigated, it was clearly a crime of state, which, of course, the government has always denied.
But Alemán’s call to have someone try to kill AMLO is seen as a sign of the increasingly growing frustration of his political opponents as he’s seemingly gaining voters on a daily basis. And, of course, if he continues like that, the voters will award him with the presidency of Mexico.
It is also the tip of the iceberg of some of the ever-increasingly dirty tricks that have been carried out since the electoral process began last Sept. 8, 2017. As of this past weekend, 88 political contenders have been assassinated across Mexico, making it an average of 11 murders a month.
Just an example: This past weekend in a small town in the northern state of Chihuahua, along the Texas-New Mexico border, a former mayor, a former candidate and a working municipal mayor were killed with about eight other people. Allegedly – according to Milenio television news – the assassinations were perpetrated by drug gangs who are fighting for territories along the region, which is infamous as a drug trafficking route.
INE National President Lorenzo Córdova made a frontal condemnation of the assassinations of candidates and politically related officials belonging to the Social Encounter Party (PES) and Democratic Revolution Party (PRD).
Córdova went on to assure all Mexicans that the electoral process will not be affected by insecurity.
But back to Ricardo Alemán. Those who have followed his career are not surprised by his getting booted out of Televisa and Channel 11. But his forwarding a tweet he considered funny brought about a huge response from social media users who came up with the hashtag #NoToHitmanJournalists or #NoAlPeriodismoSicario in Spanish.
Of course, Alemán, who has been fired from top Mexican newspapers (namely top dailies El Universal and Excelsior) for his “insolent” and often-offensive comments – critics call him PRIcardo, for his allegiance to the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI – claims that he is published in over 60 newspapers in Mexico.
AMLO, as usual, did not respond to Alemán as he considers these tirades as “provocations” that must go unanswered, but one presidential candidate and AMLO’s campaign manager Tatiana Clouthier considered Alemán’s “violent stance” dangerous.
Independent candidate Margarita Zavala said that “calls to aggression and violence” against candidates “is inadmissible” and represent an attempt “against the democratic order.”
Alemán, on Monday, told a radio station that some people are attempting to bring his journalism career to an end and said it is those who preach freedom of expression who practice censorship.
“The electoral process is getting polarized at alarming levels,” he said.
“But watch out because the butchers of today may be the beef carcasses of tomorrow.”
Whatever that means.
But as usual, there’s plenty of hatred behind this dude’s words.