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The Mexican Dinosaur » Counterpunch: Tells the Facts, Names the Names

Thanks to fawning coverage from the country’s ever-so-partial TV giants, Enrique Peña Nieto has been favorite for July’s Mexican presidential election for more than two years. With just over a month to go, the majority of the polls still show the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) candidate with a 10-20% lead over his rivals. Even many of his detractors refer to him as “Mexico’s next president”. But how real is the Peña-mania supposedly sweeping the nation?

On Mother’s Day in Mexico City, it came up against Beatlemania. Just before Paul McCartney rocked the capital’s Zocalo square with a free gig for 200,000 fans, PRI supporters unfurled a giant Peña Nieto banner from a window high above the plaza. The waiting crowd responded with chants of “AMLO! AMLO!” for Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador – candidate of the Left and former Mexico City mayor – along with a volley of other four-letter words.

The next day, Peña Nieto visited the capital’s Iberoamericana University, where students berated him with cries of “Coward!” and “Get out!” The PRI/Green Party coalition later claimed that the incumbent, right-wing National Action Party (PAN) had deliberately planted sympathizers among the crowd. 131 Ibero students subsequently released a video where they displayed their IDs and declared themselves “neither puppets, nor thugs”. They, like many Mexicans, simply don’t want to see the former ruling party return.

The dirty tactics and smoke-and-mirror campaigning of the PRI recall the 71 years in which they ruled Mexico as a dictatorship, suppressing political and social opposition along the way, often with imprisonment and violence. Peña Nieto, with his movie star looks and soap actress “Seagull” wife, has been groomed as the new, democratic face of the party widely referred to as “the dinosaur”.

So just who is going to vote for Peña Nieto? Unfortunately, die-hard liberal and strongly “perredista” (Democratic Revolutionary Party) Mexico City is no barometer of the republic as a whole. Ever since the neoliberal reforms of the 1980s broke the PRI from the values of the Mexican Revolution it claimed to uphold, the party’s support has rested in deeply corrupt unions and rural communities it long coerced with handouts and false promises. It also has the backing of the country’s corporate TV duopoly, Televisa and TV Azteca, which a majority of Mexicans still turn to for news.

Peña Nieto’s campaign has been based on the heavily-airbrushed image he created while governor of Mexico State, where he first gained a national spotlight. During his term, he signed 608 “compromisos” (pledges) in front of public notaries – most involving expensive and shady public works projects – while suppressing crime and poverty statistics in a state where an estimated 200,000 of the 15 million inhabitants struggle to survive.

His record has an even darker side. May 3 saw the sixth anniversary of the San Salvador Atenco atrocity, when police brutally suppressed a peaceful protest by local flower-vendors, resulting in two deaths, dozens of sexual assaults, and hundreds of arbitrary arrests – an incident still shrouded in controversy. Furthermore, Mexico State saw its murder rate soar under Peña Nieto; murders and disappearances of women surpassing those in the nation’s homicide capital, Ciudad Juarez.

FULL ARTICLE HERE: The Mexican Dinosaur » Counterpunch: Tells the Facts, Names the Names.

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