Yesterday, the federal electoral tribunal, charged by the Constitution to ensure transparency, equity, and certainty in the presidential elections, refused the full recount of the votes and rejected — almost entirely — the appeal made by the Coalición.
Oblivious to the nation’s long history of electoral fraud and institutional failure, insensitive to the evident misuse of the government to support Calderón, unmoved by a difference of less than 1 percent between the two main candidates, arguing narrowly, exhibiting a puny legalistic mentality unworthy of a high court vested with ample constitutional powers, the tribunal ruled to subtract 81,080 votes from Calderón’s last IFE count — and 76,897 from López Obrador — thus downgrading the official difference between the two main candidates from 402,708 to 398,525 votes, without any detailed account explaining the rational behind these figures. Yet… yet… they found no reason to order a full recount!
Article 39 of the Mexican constitution stipulates that
Essentially and ultimately, the sovereignty of the nation lies in the people. All public power emanates from the people and it is instituted for the benefit of the people. The people has at all times the inalienable right to alter or modify the form of its government.
These are the robust legal grounds upon which Andrés Manuel López Obrador and the coalition that supported his candidacy are convoking a National Democrtic Convention to be held on September 16, 2006 at Mexico City’s Zócalo Plaza. López Obrador is calling the people to defy the ruling and regard it as enabling a technical coup d’etat. And he is not alone. In spite of the hysterical media campaign against the actions of civil resistance, millions of Mexicans are convinced that a fraud was committed and will view Calderón as a spurious president.
Betraying the expectations of the perpetrators of the fraud, the democratic movement is not showing any sign of exhaustion. On the contrary, there’s a steady collective determination to take this struggle to its final conclusion. It’s a struggle for democracy, where democracy — beyond casting a ballot once every six years, democracy as effective participation in the decisions that shape public life — is viewed as the vehicle to renovate Mexico’s polity, correct the country’s horrendous social inequality and end poverty, protect the nation’s commons, and fight corruption and privileges. The Convention will decide how to best accomplish these goals under the scenario of a spurious presidency.
The depth and scope of the Convention’s powers will depend on its legitimacy. This is a battle for the hearts and minds of all Mexicans. The establishment — the government, the emerging PAN-PRI conservative coalition, the elite business organizations, the media, the Catholic hierarchy, and the army’s top command — will demand that the ruling by the electoral tribunal, and the eventual declaration of Calderón as president elect, be taken as the end of history. Following the steps of Carlos Salinas, another spurious president, they’ll seek to provide Calderón with the coveted legitimacy the polls denied him by staging spectacular coups (Salinas jailed a corrupt union leader a few days after his inauguration), seeking to exploit differences within the movement, buying international support, and trying to obtain with charity the consent of the working poor.
But the people in the movement are in a position to preempt all this trickery. The people in the movement have the moral high ground. The rest will depend on their ability to keep themselves and their leaders honest, to use the experience as an opportunity to learn from one another and from their adversaries, to strengthen their organization and unity every step of the way. Unity, unity, unity!