Following Mexico’s Presidential Election and its Outcome

As I post this item Mexicans are getting ready to vote in the July 1 Presidential elections. For those who want to follow the election day as it unfolds and track the impact of the results- there are a number of useful web sources. Aljazeera has  a very attractive web page with background materials and a blog that will follow the election day voting:     http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/spotlight/mexicodecides/

The Facebook page of  Center for Latin American Studies (CLAS) at the University of California, Berkeley will also be following developments from the Monday after the election results are known. The CLAS Facebook page is an excellent page to browse for all kinds of Latin American issues    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Center-for-Latin-American-Studies-UC-Berkeley/162401671049

One of the most striking developments in the run-up to the July elections has been the sudden emergence of a new youth movement known as #Yosoy132  or #I Am132, a reference to the university in Mexico City where this movement began.  On May 11th when the candidate of the PRI, Enrique Peña Nieto (known by his initials as EPN),  visited the campus of the staunchly middle class Jesuit university, the Iberoamericana,  an institution with a fine academic profile but not previously noted for its history of activism, hundreds of students gave the candidate a rowdy reception.  The hostility shown to Peña Nieto  led to PRI accusations that the student protestors were ‘outsiders’, ‘gangsters’ and not genuine Ibero students. To prove the falsity of this claim Ibero students posted videos in which they displayed their student ID cards and denied that they were porros y acarreados (thugs and people bussed in for the protest). There were 131 videos submitted and once loaded on to  YouTube the movement went viral.

For the last seven weeks  the #Yosoy132 movement has spread through the national capital and major cities in regional Mexico,  reshaping public debate with its calls for the establishment of genuine media democracy. While the movement has not identified itself with any candidate it has focused student and youth anger at the old ruling party, the PRI and its candidate Peña Nieto   whom the #Yosoy132 activists accuse of fraud,  a cover up of violent repression in the State of Mexico (where EPN was governor) and receiving privileged treatment from the two major television networks in Mexico, Televisa and TV Azteca.

Whether the movement will survive the elections and develop a lasting presence in Mexican civil society is unclear,  but the movement’s astonishingly rapid growth and impact on urban Mexico cannot be denied. #Yosoy132 has received considerable attention in the world media but until recently most of the analysis and video material has not been available in English. Now there is a history of the emergence of the movement  available in a fascinating documentary (with English subtitles) produced by VICE-Mexico and available at:    http://www.vice.com/en_uk/vice-news/yo-soy-132

–Barry Carr

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Filed under Analysis, Democracy, Mexico

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