sloth, designed to frustrate voters into leaving the polls without casting their ballots, to the refusal to allow opposition party representatives to monitor the polls, to the presence of pre-stuffed ballot boxes, indelible ink \(intended to prevent multiple of sailors who voted frequently. In the Yucatan, reported one desperate poll watcher, “all sorts of things are going on.” On the night of the election, three opposition candidates, Cardenas, Clouthier, and Rosario Ibarra, a prominent human rights activist and candidate of the far-left Revolutionary Workers Party appeared at the gates of the Ministry of the Interior, requesting an audience with the Minister, who was also president of the CFE. At first they were denied admission, then later swept inside along with a throng of reporters and various party sympathizers. When they returned to face reporters, Ibarra read a joint statement prepared by the three candidates, raising questions of fraud and illegality and declaring that “if the legality of the electoral process” was not “reestablished unequivocally,” they would not recognize the results of the election. For the next week Mexico was treated to high drama with aspects of comic opera. The PRI’s foreign press director could be seen entering the offices of prominent foreign news agencies, toting pages of statistics and a Good PRI/Bad PRI theory which held that Salinas had won the election but had not obtained an overwhelming majority. Old-style forces within the party, however, were insistent on delivering a 60percent victory one way or another. The CFE’s computer system mysteriously crashed, further delaying election results. Even without the CFE computers the PRI managed to claim victory the day after the election. Salinas proclaimed the end of the “virtual one-party” era and promised to respect Mexico’s newfound plurality of political parties. Ibarra, who had refused to join forces with Cardenas because of FRIDA HARTZ ideological differences, announced that it appeared he was winning the presidency and that she and her party had to defend his votes. On the evening of July 9, Cardenas announced his victory, based on reports from the polls and information that government “insiders” were reportedly upset with what was happening at the CFE. Throughout Mexico City, bands of people who would ordinarily not agree on anything, stood side by side “defending the vote,” as the slow process of ballot tabulation continued. Sporadic protests broke out throughout the country, with the PAN blocking highways in the North, and Cardenas supporters temporarily taking over several municipalities in Vera Cruz. In Mexico City, opposition supporters marched to the Ministry of the Interior and then led an impromptu march on .Televisa, the powerful private network, heavily linked to the government. Denouncing the network for baised election coverage, they chanted “Death to Televisa!” There were also moments of touching, if temporary, solidarity among the two major opposition groups. In Mexico City the fragile peace between PANistas and Cardenistas was threatened by a dispute over the results of a Senate race. At a PAN rally for the senatorial candidate, a PANista leader urged the crowd to make way for a contingent of Cardenistas marching to the Ministry of the Interior. “They have some differences with the PAN, basically having to do with votes . . . in the Federal District,” he said, “but we have a common front in the defense of the vote. Let them exercise their liberty.” Finally, after a week of off-again on-again marathon sessions, the CFE announced the winner of the presidential elections, Carlos Salinas. In the weeks since the July 6 elections, what has been called “the dance of the statistics” continues. Complaints by the hundreds have been filed with the Election Review Board. The PAN has filed a lawsuit against the CFE’s computer wizard. Clouthier has crisscrossed the country in support of a national referendum, telling crowds that the era of presidentialism, paternalism, and the one-party system is over. No one can claim victory in the July elections, he insists, above all, not Salinas. Cardenas has also been touring the country, denouncing electoral fraud and urging his supporters to “defend the vote.” He outlined a series of legal procedures that could keep the country at the edge of its collective seat until December. He has shown up at a gathering of artists, spray can in hand, to participate in a mural denouncing Televisa for “informational fraud.” He has danced at an impromptu victory dance. His speeches have taken on the qualities of language of diplomatic code. At the huge, July 16 Zocalo rally he referred to a technical “coup d’etat” committed by the ruling party. He told his supporters that their struggle would take place within legal channels, but that “we are aware that the problem facing us is principally political. Popular judgment has already disqualified the election . . . our struggle is not for statistics, with them we are not going to demonstrate fraud.” He closed his speech with an almost mystical evocation of “the people” who “know how far they want to and are able to go.” Conventional wisdom has it that despite the mobilizations planned for mid-August when the Electoral Review Board completes work, despite growing discontent, it will be Salinas who is inaugurated as Mexico’s next president. Cardenas will provide the candidate of modern politics with an even greater incentive to modernize the ruling party. Conventional wisdom has it that the Left will focus its efforts on upcoming gubernatorial elections as well as congressional races that will take place in three years. The ability of the fragile coalition of parties backing Cardenas not really a coalition at all, since they were unable to agree on unified candidates for the lower races and consequently lost many seats to survive is questionable. But conventional wisdom has shown itself lacking in the 1988 elections. “No one would have predicted eight months ago the movement that would develop around Cuauhtemoc,” Elena Poniatowska, a prominent Mexican journalist and writer, said recently. Perhaps the only certainty involving the 1988 elections is that expressed by Poniatowska. “I wouldn’t want to be in any other country at this moment. I wouldn’t want to be living in any other era, at any other time, because things are happening for us that are totally new.” El FOR LIBERAL PORTIONS AT CONSERVATIVE PRICES * REMEMBER SCHOLZ GARDEN * * 1607 San Jacinto * 477-4171 * 18 AUGUST 19, 1988
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