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sAIRWANNOM In many ways the presidential election that is just days away is the most significant since the watershed year 1988. All we’re missing is the phrase, “the system has collapsed,” said my friend Luis Cota, a veteran of 1988. For months, the hit pieces have flickered across the tube, sometimes four to a commercial break. Lopez Obrador’s pugnacious mug intercut with such boogiemen as Hugo Chavez and Subcomandante Marcos, and images of the recent police riot at Atenco in the state of Mexico. Calderon’s media mavens have borrowed a trick from the campaign of former President Ernesto Zedillo by inciting the voto del miedo, the vote of fear. The technique worked well for Zedillo in 1994 after the Zapatistas rose up in Chiapas and Salinas’s hand-picked successor, Luis Donaldo Colosio, was gunned down in Tijuana. The message hasn’t been lost on Calderon’s handlers, who have invested millions in the TV onslaught. The presidential elections mean big bucks for Mexico’s two-headed television monopoly, Televisa and its junior partner TV Aztecaabout $1.3 billion in primetime spots by the time it’s over. From the campaign get-go last January, Televisa has tilted to the PAN and attacked Lopez Obrador, sometimes showing AMLO in herky-jerky frames with lots of spooky music to accentuate the DANGER. Back in 1988, Televisa and its star anchor, then staunch PRIistas, gave Cardenas the same treatment. Alternating with the Get AMLO blitz is a Fox government crusade to extol its questionable accomplishmentsnearly a half million spots since January, if Obrador from the ballotand even to imprison himfor the heinous crime of trying to build an access road to a hospital. \(He was enjoined from doing so by court order. See “La Loteria Mas this legal lynching on its head by mobilizing 1.2 million citizens for a silent march through the city he then governed as mayor. The April 24, 2005, march was the largest political demonstration in the history of this republic. Before the impeachment attempt, the PAN and the PM had tried to hang the former mayor with a series of videotapes secretly shot by a crooked construction tycoon pissed off at AMLO for denying him city contracts. The videos aired heavily on Televisa and TV Azteca throughout 2004. They never managed to link Lopez Obrador with any wrongdoing and in fact strengthened his lead. On the eve of the June 6 presidential debate between Lopez Obrador and Calderon, the imprisoned Carlos Ahumada announced that his wife would distribute new videos testifying to Lopez Obrador’s corrupt moral values at High Noon the next day. Allegedly at 6:10 that morning a beige, bulletproof Suburban carrying Ahumada’s annoyed-looking wife Cecelia Gurza, her three children, and her ex-con chauffer, was raked by gunfire as it slid out of the driveway of her palatial home in southern Mexico continued on page 17 a PRI count can be believed. Most of those spots emanated from SEDESO, the department of social development, and vaguely suggested that checks might dry up if Calderon were not elected. Former SEDESO Secretary Josefina Vazquez Mota is Calderon’s right-hand woman. One of Calderon’s brothers-inlaw installed a SEDESO computerized directory that contains the names and addresses of recipients of the ministry’s largesse during the Fox administration. The PAN-PRI putsch to beat back Lopez Obrador, who led the presidential pack by as much as 18 points for 30 months before Calderon’s media onslaught, reached fever pitch in 2005. Fox and unctuous PM standard-bearer Roberto Madrazo tried to bar Lopez JUNE 30, 2006 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 13