** Originally published at Vice, Friday, July 6:
On Wednesday, the agency in Mexico that manages elections began a recount for the tens of millions of votes in the race that was apparently won by the Institutional Revolutionary Party, the party that ruled Mexico from 1929 to 2000. The PRI candidate Enrique Peña Nieto won by about six points over old-school leftie Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. AMLO, as the progressive candidate is known, is contesting the election results, just like he did in 2006. He won’t accept defeat because defeat means accepting what he and his supporters believe is an inherently corrupt system. Nevertheless, he’s a pacifist and doesn’t believe in violence or armed conflict. And as a result, the rest of us over the past 72 hours have been groaning, sleeping, shrugging, or drinking a lot. The worst that can happen is that AMLO could call for another plantón, a permanent sit-in on the main drags of Mexico City, and shut down the urban center like he did in 2006. But that only ended up hurting his base and made his enemies in the establishment cry “I told you!” On Sunday, AMLO swept dense, voter-rich Mexico City by nearly 27 points.
Outside the Instituto Federal Electoral campus, rows of police officers in bright neon lime jackets and caps are lined up to protect the institute from a small band of young protesters still holding court on the sidewalk after a near-riot the night before. The protestors’ faces are covered in folded-over bandanas and they look like porros, Mexican street slang for paid provocateurs. The emergent #YoSoy132 movement had to send out a comunicado saying that whoever was outside the IFE at this point was not a member.
Inside the IFE, most of the foreign press has left. That leaves behind the bureaucrats, the Mexican beat reporters, the TV crews, and the hostesses in gray pantsuits. I take a seat in the IFE’s big-tent press hall, where dozens of computer terminals face huge screens projecting the state-by-state vote counts. We wait around for a press conference. The IFE councilors come and take their places on an elevated stage. The bureaucrats and the reporters have a back-and-forth in impenetrable jargon. The basic point, from what I gathered, is that with a difference of more than three million votes between Peña and AMLO, nothing much will really change at this point no matter how hard the progressives try. No matter how much evidence exists out there of vote-buying and vote “influencing.” It is the same basic message that is repeated over and over in Mexico—nothing will really change here, people, let’s be honest (but say it in a language no one else understands).
Every cabbie I’ve met in Mexico in the past few weeks has ended up admitting that they don’t believe democracy exists in this country. To them, Peña Nieto looks and sounds like an invented candidate, a puppet, a nice-looking avatar for the ominous Atlacomulco group from one of the PRI’s oldest, darkest wings. ...
* Photo: Supporters of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador during a campaign stop in Tlaxcala, Tlaxcala.