Hundreds of people demonstrated outside Mexico’s Congress Saturday against President Felipe Calderon, a protest coinciding with the presentation of his final state-of-the-nation report.
Members of the Yo soy 132 student movement, which arose in May as a reaction to the Mexican mass media’s bias in favor of now-President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto and his Institutionary Revolutionary Party, or PRI, began the march Saturday morning on this capital’s south side.
They were later joined by other groups who denounced the six years of Calderon, who will step down on Dec. 1.
A period full of “hunger, exclusion, misinformation, inequality, illness, plundering, repression and death,” one member of the group said, reading from a so-called “counter-report” on Calderon’s term.
“Calderon is responsible for these six years of decisions taken behind society’s back,” the document read, adding that his administration “has been the continuation of a corrupt system where a few have imposed their interests above the needs of the majority.”
Calderon will submit his sixth and final state-of-the-nation report to Congress on Saturday, when a new session of the legislature begins.
The report, which will be presented to a congressional committee by Government Secretary Alejandro Poire, is expected to tout the Calderon administration’s economic, political and security achievements.
“Six years of lies and false promises, of simulation, corruption, complicity and a state of emergency imposed on us,” the document said, slamming Calderon as “a cowardly president talking about valor while we, the society, supply the deaths, the displaced persons, the kidnap victims, the persecuted.”
“Six years of obscene wealth for the few, while we suffer hunger, are excluded, unemployed, young people without opportunities,” it said.
The young people also provided a detailed analysis of Calderon’s policies in different areas, including the news media, education, science and technology, art and culture and public safety.
The “counter-report” also had words for future Mexican head of state Enrique Peña Nieto, who was declared president-elect Friday after the TEPJF electoral court rejected legal challenges to the result of the July 1 balloting filed by runner-up Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and his Progressive Movement leftist coalition.
“We know that with Peña Nieto this system will simply take on a new face and once again we, the society, will pay the costs imposed by this political class,” the document said, urging society at large to join in “a fraternal struggle” for Mexico’s transformation.
Peña Nieto’s victory has been attributed in part to voter frustration over persistently high levels of drug-related violence during the tenure of Calderon, who was constitutionally barred from seeking re-election.
Since the conservative Calderon took office on Dec. 1, 2006, as many as 60,000 people have lost their lives in turf battles among drug cartels and clashes between the gangs and the security forces.
But despite the high murder toll Calderon has consistently defended his government’s decision to militarize the struggle against the mobs.
The Yo soy 132 movement started on May 11, when Peña Nieto visited the Universidad Iberoamericana and was jeered by students, who accused him of being a candidate “manufactured” by the powerful Televisa network, accusations supported by Britain’s The Guardian newspaper, which has published e-mails about a secret unit at the network whose mission was to promote the PRI hopeful.
Those in Peña Nieto’s inner circle and some media pundits downplayed the incident, accusing the students of being agitators.
The students counterattacked by making a video that was posted on YouTube.
The criticism led to the birth of the “Somos mas de 131” (We Are More Than 131) movement, which took its name from the number of students who appeared in the video and later evolved into the Yo soy 132 (I Am 132) movement when students from other universities joined the protests.
The movement opposes the return to power of the PRI, which governed Mexico from 1929 to 2000.
Read more by HS News Staff →