James Cockcroft: Mexican Elite will not allow Andres Lopez Obrador to be
PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I’m Paul Jay in Baltimore.
In Mexico, the presidential elections are a matter of tremendous controversy. Tens of thousands of people have been in the streets saying the elections were stolen.
Now joining us to talk about what’s happening is James Cockcroft. He is an award-winning author, a bilingual poet, a lecturer on policy issues of the day, as well as a three-time Fulbright scholar. He’s written more than 50 books, including Mexico’s Revolution Then and Now. And he joins us today from Montreal. Thanks very much for joining us, James.
JAMES COCKCROFT, AUTHOR: Thanks for having me, Paul.
JAY: So, first of all, give us the basic facts of what happened in the election. And what is the controversy? Why is it being so challenged?
COCKCROFT: The election has been challenged for many months now because the mass media in Mexico, led by Televisa, the big TV monopolyâ€”or part of a duopoly, actuallyâ€”was coming out in favor constantly for one candidate, the candidate who supposedly triumphed in July, won presidential election, PeÃ±a Nieto, and it was broadcasting false news about his main contender from the left center, LÃ³pez Obrador, and telling lies about LÃ³pez Obrador and half-truths about the candidate that it supported, PeÃ±a Nieto from the PRI, the former longest-ruling political party in the world until its replacement in a fairly democratic election in the year 2000 by a more conservative party. And that conservative party’s been in power for the last 12 years and has continued to guide Mexico down to the abyss of economic failure and poverty and more violence, etc., the so-called narco war.
So that propaganda for the candidate of the PRI, in an arrangement where the two conservative parties, the PRI and the PAN, were to change the presidency every now and then, because it was clear the governing party couldn’t win after all the deathsâ€”60,000 people killed in a phony narco war in the last six yearsâ€”caused a lot of people to be upset.
And then the student movement erupted on the eve of the election. And the student movement, which quickly allied with our own student movement here in Quebec, where I live, in Montreal, and the big student movement in Chile, where also there’s a longstanding strike going on, the student movement literally came out in the streets to protest against this TV channel, Televisa, and its candidate, PeÃ±a Nieto, saying that it was basically misreporting the news and leading people to vote for PeÃ±a Nieto because they didn’t know what LÃ³pez Obrador really stood for.
JAY: And part of the challengeâ€”excuse me. Part of the challenge, if I understand correctly, from LÃ³pez Obrador is that this indirectly violated campaign financing laws. It amounted to, you know, millions of dollars of free advertising.
COCKCROFT: Exactly. And in addition, LÃ³pez Obrador’s campaign has documented that, independently of the TV coverage, PeÃ±a Nieto has spent between 10Â and 13Â times more than the legal limit established by law on his campaign. The legal limit is $26Â million, and 10Â or 13Â times that is hundreds of millions of dollars.
In addition, the charge by LÃ³pez Obrador against this fraudulent election of PeÃ±a Nieto, this rigged election, if you will, is that 5Â million votes were bought directly with that extra money that was sloshing around in the campaign and bribing poor people in the rural areas and better-off people in the suburbs, particularly the home state of PeÃ±a Nieto, Mexico State, where he had been governor and overseen a very violent regime that repressed workers and peasants. Apparently, bought about 1Â million votes just in his home state alone, where he won as a result, and 5Â million votes total when hisâ€”nationally, when his margin of alleged victory was 3Â million.
JAY: The difference in votes is something like about the number of votes that they accuse have been bought. Is that right?
COCKCROFT: Yeah. Well, actually, evenâ€”they only won by 3Â million votes, but they’re accused of having purchased 5Â million votes. Okay? And then there’s some other hanky-panky that LÃ³pez Obrador is also bringing to light.
But, you know, for most Mexicans this is sort of standard operational procedure. Their elections have been fraudulent for years now. That’s why they threw out the PRI in 2000. They had a mass movement in the street for democracyâ€”for real democracy, as opposed to fraudulent democracy. And that movement was succeeding when they elected a president in 1988, whose election was taken away by Salinas. And Salinas came into power at that point, consolidated all the alliances with the narco gangs, consolidated the alliances with the U.S. economic interests and oil interests in Mexico, and hasâ€”Salinas himself was caught, by the way, in a series of illegalities, not only in the ’88 election, but as president over the next six years. He had to flee justice, go live in England for a while. He’s back in Mexico now, apparently pulling a lot of the strings behind the scenes for this campaign.
JAY: James, the, I mean, underlying struggle here is thatâ€”and I guess my question is: will the Mexican elite, which has done so well with this neoliberal economics and free tradeâ€”and, you know, some of the richest billionaires in the world live in, have emerged in Mexico. Are they going to allow any legal process that would bring in LÃ³pez Obrador, who, at least in terms of his campaign promises, isâ€”you know, wants an alternative to this kind of neoliberal economics?
COCKCROFT: Yeah, he’s running against neoliberal economics. And it’s not even a socialist program or anything of the kind; it’s just a sort of moderate capitalism thatâ€”a more humane capitalism that he’s advocating, and, of course, protection of the nation’s national resources, particularly oil, most of which has already been delivered indirectly to the U.S. and other foreign companies. So he’s sort of a nationalist, moderate centrist left of center. But the elites, as you say, will not allow him in.
And so that’s why in the previous presidential election that he ran in, six years ago, LÃ³pez Obrador won, by everyone’s testimonyâ€”and it’s been documented, including in my new book Mexico’s Revolution Then and Nowâ€”and yet he was not allowed to take office. CalderÃ³n came in from the conservative PAN Party and unleashed the military on the people to repress any social movements or protest. Now, back in 2006â€”of course, in the name of fighting narco gangs, but it’s really to repress the social movements. Back in 2006, during that stealing of the election, the Mexicans occupied the main streets of Mexico City, Paseo de la Reforma, right down to the ZÃ³calo, the main plaza, for three months, occupied the streets and camped out and protested this fraud.
And nowâ€”they’re not doing that this year. LÃ³pez Obrador said, don’t tie up traffic, don’t do that; we’re going to go through the courts and so on. That’s what he’s doing now. But the people are ignoring him and going out on the streets anyway, and led in great part by this student movement that’s formed alliances with those very worker and peasant movements that PeÃ±a Nieto repressed four years ago in the state of Mexico when the president-elect, so-called, PeÃ±a Nieto, was governor at that time. So it’s formed alliances with working-class people and with gay and lesbian people and with oppressed peoples in general, any peoples with complaints.
JAY: Elaborate a little bit more why you’re calling this a phony narco war.
COCKCROFT: Well, it turns out, according to the UN commission against drugs and crime, that the vast majority of money in the narcotrafficking is laundered by the six largest U.S. banks. And the amount of money they laundered in 2008, when so many of the major banks collapsed, was enough to bail them out. But the narcotrafficking is fundamental not only to the banks, and therefore to the survival of the U.S. economy, but to U.S. foreign policy, which uses the phony wars against narcotrafficking to destabilize countries and justify the creation of military bases in those countries, as it did in Colombia in the last 30 years and is beginning to do in Mexico, particularly in the last six years. Don’t forget, the narcotrafficking is the second biggest liquid capital flow going on in world trade and world economics.
JAY: Right. Now, is Obrador considered a serious threat to all of this, including the narcotrafficking?
COCKCROFT: LÃ³pez Obrador is considered a serious threat in Washington. Absolutely. Absolutely. Even though he’s guaranteed foreign investments and reassured foreign capital, he is considered a serious threat.
JAY: So what happens? If the election officials in Mexico and the Supreme Court and all the various process eventually validate this election, and millions of people think it was rigged, and the student movement has come alive and, as you described, has allied itself with workers and peasants and such, how does this movement respond to such a decision?
COCKCROFT: I can assure your listeners, Paul, that these movements will continue and they will grow, and they will grow rapidly. So stay tuned. You’re going to hear more from Mexico’s masses.
JAY: Alright. Thanks very much for joining us, James.
COCKCROFT: Thank you for having me, Paul.
JAY: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.
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