Photo: Yo Soy 132
Mexico’s “Yo soy 132” student movement unveiled a summary of the report it will present to authorities on the July 1 general elections, saying it documents more than 1,000 irregularities.
“This report presents enough irregularities to say this wasn’t a democratic process,” Luis Cotier, one of the members of the movement launched in May, said in a press conference Thursday.
The students allege that election day did not unfold in an atmosphere of peace and legality and was marred by “profoundly undemocratic” practices such as vote buying and coercion and media manipulation that “altered the essence of free, informed, reasoned and critical voting,” Cotier said.
Through Tuesday, when the “Yo soy 132” (I Am 132) movement stopped receiving complaints due to high volume, it had collected more than 1,100 reports deemed sufficiently reliable to be considered evidence of electoral fraud.
Of them, 96 percent were crimes committed by members of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, while officials at polling stations or some local community power broker were responsible for the others, it said.
The PRI returned to power in Sunday’s presidential election after a 12-year absence with Enrique Peña Nieto as its standard-bearer.
That party had dominated Mexico’s politics for decades until 2000, a reign that Peruvian Nobel literature laureate Mario Vargas Llosa described as the “perfect dictatorship.”
During its 71 years of - largely unchallenged - hegemony, the PRI relied mainly on patronage and control of organized labor and the mass media, though it was not above resorting to outright vote-rigging and even violence.
The Yo soy 132 movement gathered the complaints through its network of observers stationed at voting stations and from ordinary citizens via social networking sites; all of the complaints were analyzed by the movement’s vigilance commission and those presented Thursday passed the verification process.
The most common reported irregularities included the buying of votes and voter credentials and violations of a ban on campaigning in the days leading up to the election.
Complaints of burnt and stolen ballot boxes also were made and backed up with video footage, photographs and citizens’ testimonials.
Edgar Tafoya, another member of the movement, said it is not up to Yo soy 132 to formally challenge the election results, but that it will send its report to the special prosecutor’s office for electoral crimes, the Federal Electoral Institute, or IFE, and the federal Attorney General’s Office.
The student movement stems from an incident 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.
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 movement when students from other universities joined the protests.
The non-partisan movement’s main demand was for impartiality in media coverage of political campaigns, but it also came out against the candidate of the PRI.
In Thursday’s press conference, the movement said it has no ties to a planned July 7 election-protest rally organized via social networking sites, nor to a sit-in that a score of young people have been staging outside the IFE’s offices.