Mexico mobilizes to protest controversial vote count

Massive marches are planned around the country in support of defeated leftist candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s bid to challenge election results in the courts.

Mexico’s left began a series of countrywide demonstrations to support the bid of the defeated presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador to challenge election results in the courts and force a vote-by-vote recount of the ballots. During the week, followers of the Party of the Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) will march in Mexico City and in the provinces, to finally gather on Sunday at the historical center of the country’s capital where Lopez Obrador will address crowds for a second time, after his rousing speech before some 200,000 demonstrators last Saturday.

As the provisional winner, the conservative Felipe Calderon, tried to calm down his supporters, Lopez Obrador opted to challenge the “fraudulent elections” in the courts through the mass-media and in the streets. According to the Federal Electoral Institute (IFE), the leftist candidate lost the July 2 presidential by just 0.58 percentage points –some 250,000 votes-.

Calderon on Tuesday criticized the marches, stressing that elections should be won in the ballot-box and not on the streets. But his provisionally defeated rival said he will go 'as far as people want' in his civic resistance measures, in a televised interview Tuesday night.

'President (Vicente) Fox, with all due respect, is a traitor to democracy,' Lopez Obrador said in Tuesday's interview. Mexico’s left believes that the incumbent president is behind a move to deprive their PRD party from presidency.

Lopez Obrador on Monday presented two videos he claimed were evidence of fraud, but one of the videos on Tuesday turned out to be portraying entirely normal election procedures. The IFE denied the videos were enough probe of any irregularity during the elections.

The leftist candidate's team insists that they are only seeking vote-by-vote a recount, not the annulment of the election, though such vote-by-vote recounts are unusual in Mexico and the law requires them only in cases of apparent fraud. The Electoral Tribunal must resolve the appeal by August 31, so that the formal designated president elect can be declared by September 6, ahead of his inauguration in December.

Hernan Etchaleco

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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov