Espero estar del lado incorrecto de la historia – Por Carolina Cruz Garza

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(English version below) Julio 2, 2018, Monterrey, N.L.

Desde chica, siempre me ha interesado la historia. Leo vorazmente sobre la historia del siglo XX particularmente la de Europa. Estudié Relaciones Internacionales por ser la carrera más afín a este interés. Al leer sobre la Revolución Francesa o la Segunda Guerra Mundial, siempre me imagino cómo sería vivir esos momentos históricos; me imagino en los zapatos de alguien que estaba del lado “ganador” de la historia. En los zapatos de un luchador revolucionario o de alguien que desde la resistencia se opuso al régimen de Hitler, o albergó a una familia judía.

Hoy, con el resultado de las elecciones de México, espero estar del lado “incorrecto” de la historia. Soy regiomontana, parte de una clase “privilegiada” que tuvo un punto de partida de mucha ventaja sobre el promedio de los mexicanos. Somos una familia unida, con oportunidad de dar la mejor educación y oportunidades a sus hijos. Tuve el privilegio de estudiar en los mejores colegios y universidades y de viajar y aprender diferentes idiomas. Sin embargo, en mi familia también se nos ha enseñado el valor del trabajo duro, de la dedicación y del esfuerzo. Nos enseñaron a no asumir nada y trabajar para merecer. Cuando le llamaba a mi abuelo los domingos siempre me preguntaba “¿Qué estás haciendo?”- si mi respuesta inmediata no era “Trabajando”, me decía “Hay que trabajar… ¡También comes en domingo!”.

Por eso soy parte de los millones de mexicanos que creemos que tener un líder con educación y conocimiento del mundo, con visión amplia y realista de nuestra realidad económica y de nuestra posición en el mundo, nos ayudaría a continuar por el camino del crecimiento económico (aunque fuera poco a poco). Soy parte de los millones, que quizás por los últimos 18 años, hemos votado por el “menos peor”. Soy de los millones de mexicanos que queremos creer que México progresa a pesar de sus gobernantes y gracias al esfuerzo de los millones de mexicanos que se levantan cada día a trabajar honestamente para sacar a sus familias adelante, en la iniciativa privada.

latin_americax_worldxs_leftist_leaders_support_mexicoxs_amlo.jpg_1718483346Hoy soy parte de los mexicanos que nos despertamos sorprendidos a un nuevo México.  No nos sorprende que haya ganado AMLO las elecciones y nos da gusto que el proceso democrático se haya llevado a cabo con relativo orden y una amplia participación ciudadana. Como todos los mexicanos, ya estamos hartos de la corrupción, la impunidad, la inseguridad, y el statu quo. Lo que sí nos sorprende y nos preocupa es el poder que hoy tiene AMLO y Morena en sus manos, porque como muchos mexicanos, no creemos en un mesías, y no olvidamos el pasado.  No olvidamos también los muchos movimientos que comenzaron por este mismo camino y la historia nos comprobó que al final fueron devastadores para el pueblo.

Hoy más que nunca me levanto con ganas de seguir trabajando y luchando por este México ideal. Mientras espero estar en el lado “incorrecto” de la historia, no me quedaré esperando. Seguiré trabajando para hacer cumplir este México que soñamos. Hoy más que nunca debemos mantener la guardia alta. No olvidemos que “El poder tiende a corromper, y el poder absoluto corrompe absolutamente” (Lord Acton, Inglaterra). No dejemos que todo ese poder que ayer los mexicanos depositaron en Morena, se vuelva un arma en nuestra contra.

Hoy espero que AMLO, Morena y México me pongan del lado incorrecto de la historia, pero no me quedaré esperando. No dejaré de trabajar por el bien de mi país, de mi ciudad y de mi familia y los invito a hacer lo mismo. Sigamos adelante, apoyando donde haya buenas ideas y resistiendo activamente donde no.

Carolina Cruz Garza es es Lic. en Relaciones Internacionales con maestría en negocios europeos. Es mexicana, esposa de un mexicano y orgullosa madre de tres niños mexicanos. Carolina es consultora de negocios en materia de gestión del cambio y comunicación.

I HOPE TO BE ON THE WRONG SIDE OF HISTORY, By Carolina Cruz Garza.

July 2nd, 2018, Monterrey, N.L.

 

Ever since I was a small girl, I’ve always been a fan of history. I particularly love to read about 20th century European history. I studied International Relations in university because of this personal love for history.

When I read about the French Revolution or World War II, I always imagine how it would have been like living through these historical times. I imagine what it must have felt like to be on the “winning” side of history and I put myself in the shoes of a courageous revolutionary, a member of the resistance against Hitler’s regime or one of the brave people who harbored Jewish families during the Holocaust putting their own lives at risk because they knew it was the right thing to do.

After witnessing the results of Mexico’s 2018 presidential elections, today I hope to be in the “wrong” side of history. I come from Monterrey and I am part of a “privileged” class with much more than an upper hand versus the average Mexican citizen. I am part of a tightly knit family which has been able to give its kids access to quality education and opportunities. I’ve had the privilege of studying in the best schools and universities, I’ve traveled around the world and enjoyed learning different languages. While I don’t deny having this privilege, I am also part of a family which teaches the value of hard work, dedication and effort. I’ve been taught never to assume anything and to work hard to deserve what I achieve. When my grandfather was still alive, I would call him on Sundays and he would always ask “what are you doing?”… If my immediate answer was not “working, grandpa”, I would be met with an emphatic “You should be working even if it’s Sunday. You still eat on Sunday, don’t you?”

I am one of the millions of Mexicans who believe that in order to further our economic development, we should have a knowledgeable leader, with a developed world view, a wide vision and real understanding of our economic reality and our role in the global stage. I am one of the millions of Mexicans who, at least for the last 18 years, have voted for “the least worst candidate.” I am one of the millions of Mexicans who want to believe that Mexico can advance despite its government representatives and thanks to the efforts of millions of Mexicans who wake up every day and pour their hearts out to keep their families afloat, doing honest work within the private sector.

Today, I am one of the millions of Mexicans who woke up in amazement and facing a new version of Mexico. We are not amazed that López Obrador won and we’re actually grateful and proud that we went through a relatively peaceful electoral process with ample civic participation. Like all Mexicans, we are fed up with the rampant corruption, impunity, insecurity and status quo. What is amazing and quite frankly, worrying, is the amount of power that López and his party Morena, now hold (having locked in large portions of the upper and lower house of Congress). Like many Mexicans, I don’t believe in the messianic presidential figure and I don’t forget the past. I also don’t forget about similar “movements” which went down similar paths to the one being drawn by López and which resulted in devastation and misery for the people.

Today, more than any other day, I woke up with a will to keep working and fighting for a better, even ideal Mexico. While I hope to be on the “wrong” side of history, I don’t intend to wait for it. I will keep working for the Mexico we’ve dreamed about and want for our children. Today, more than ever, we need to keep our guards up, lest we forget that “power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely” (Lord Acton, UK). It is our responsibility to ensure that all the power that a voting majority of Mexicans gave to Morena yesterday, does not become a weapon against our country.

Today I hope López, Morena and Mexico place me in the wrong side of history, but I don’t intend to wait for it. I will not stop working for my country, my city and my family and I hope you don’t either. Let’s keep moving forward, providing support to good ideas and actively resisting bad ones.

Carolina Cruz holds a masters in European Business and a BA in International Relations. She is a Mexican woman, married to a Mexican man and the proud mother of three Mexican kids. Carolina is a business consultant specializing in Change Management and Communication.

Is Peña Nieto Facing a Mexican Spring?

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Originally published by Americas Quarterly on December 4th, 2014.

Two years ago, Enrique Peña Nieto took office as Mexico’s president, under the banner of a renovated Partido Revolucionario Institucional(PRI) and with a promise of a brighter economic, social and political future.

Only two months after he took office, Thomas L. Friedman remarked on that promise in an article titled “How Mexico Got Back in the Game.” And who can forget Timemagazine’s February 2014 cover, featuring Peña Nieto with the headline “Saving Mexico”? In that feature, author Michael Crowley said that on the security issues, “alarms are being replaced with applause” and that the social, political and economic reforms package steamrolled through a PRI-dominant Congress were preview of great things to come.

The media prematurely started calling this era “Mexico’s moment.” Granted, we are living quite an interesting moment in Mexico’s history, but not for the reasons the 2012 optimists foresaw.

A recent series of events and decisions stemming from the political elite at local, state and federal levels has detonated into what could evolve into a Mexican version of the Arab Spring. In Friedman’s piece, he quoted the president of Monterrey’s Center for Citizen Integration saying that “Once a citizen feels he is not powerless, he can aspire for more change. […] First, the Web democratized commerce, and then it democratized media, and now it is democratizing democracy.”

This is exactly what’s happening. A newly empowered Mexican civil society is reacting and saying enough is enough.

Some of the things I will discuss in this piece are not making their way to mainstream media, or they are being distorted and minimized, but they are gaining momentum in the open forum of Mexican social media—clearly demonstrating the growing divide between institutions and a fed-up and empowered rebellious citizenry.

The apparent state-sponsored mass murder of 43 rural students from Ayotzinapa was not the result of Peña Nieto’s mandate or decisions. The horrible events occurred in the Partido de la Revolución Democrática (PRD)-run state of Guerrero, and the alleged intellectual authors of the massacre where the now-deposed and incarcerated PRD mayor of Iguala,José Luis Abarca, and his wife.

However, the president’s reaction to the crisis is proving to be more than a challenge for his office. Protesters are holding him accountable and expecting answers from him and only him.

When the massacre reached mass media, political groups in the elite saw it as an opportunity to attack their opponents. Two-time presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador called for Peña Nieto’s resignation, saying the president was not equipped to deal with the Ayotzinapa case. The PRI apparatus returned the blow, flooding the Web with a picture of Abarca and López Obrador hugging during a political rally and arguing that the two politicians were not only members of the same political party, but close friends and political allies.

While this game of political finger-pointing was going on, the families of the 43 students—and, quite frankly, most Mexicans—were more interested in what the federal government was doing to advance the investigation and to deliver credible results.

When days turned into months and the public still had no answers, two incidents collided and became a perfect storm for the president.

On November 7, 33 days after the Ayotzinapa students disappeared, Attorney General Jesús Murillo Karam gave a press conference in which he declared that the students’ bodies had been thrown in a mass grave and cremated, citing confessions from local gang members as evidence. Families of the students, who had expected empathy and hope, were instead subjected to a crude account of how their loved ones had been abducted, transported, tortured, maimed and murdered.

Murillo continued to share testimonies of apprehended criminals, describing the way the bodies were doused with gasoline and set ablaze. At the conclusion of the press conference, Murillo dodged questions challenging the credibility of his statements, only to abruptly end the session by getting up from his chair and murmuring “I’ve had enough” (Ya me cansé).

Though Murillo later said that his words were an expression of his frustration with the violence, #Yamecansé immediately became a trending topic on Twitter. Enraged Mexicans shouted they, too, had had enough of the political elite, of organized crime in bed with the government, and of being lied to and patronized.

The second PR disaster came two days later, when journalist Carmen Aristegui uncovered acase of alleged corruption and nepotism involving Peña Nieto’s wife, Angélica Rivera. Aristegui revealed that the construction company Grupo Higa, which had won a  multimillion dollar bid to construct a high-speed rail project in the PRI-governed state of Nuevo León, had also built Rivera’s now famous $7 million “Casa Blanca” mansion.

As if the Casa Blanca accusation wasn’t bad enough, Peña Nieto decided not to directly respond to it. Instead, the strategy from the president’s office was to have the First Lady provide an explanation, in a failed attempt to put distance between the accusation and the president.  The Rivera’s nonsensical YouTube video explanation of how she came to possess enough money to buy the house through acting in telenovelas, created an outcry on social media, showing that nobody bought the First Lady’s explanation. Instead, the video became yet another symbol of the effrontery with which the political class approaches their constituency, stirring up frustration and indignation.

The #Yamecansé and #CasaBlanca hashtags sparked massive social mobilizations and marches in the state of Guerrero, in Mexico City and in major cities across the country and abroad. Some have compared these mass protests with the #YoSoy132 movement of 2012.

The similarity between the two movements is the fact that Peña Nieto is the main target of criticis—but it would be more accurate to compare the current movement with the Arab Spring. #YoSoy132 was fueled by electoral politics, with the goal of preventing Peña Nieto from winning office. After Peña Nieto was elected, the movement did not die completely, but it became more symbolic than effective.

Today, enraged and politically alienated youth are amassing in a more organic way, and their reasons for protesting will not dissipate after electoral polls close. Local, state and federal incompetence and corruption have created more reasons than ever for people to take to the streets and demand a change.

There is no sign of this trend reversing. In fact, all strategies used by the government to tackle the protests only seem to aggravate them.  With accusations of police beating up and arresting peaceful protesters, Peña Nieto’s presentation of a security reformthat would unify local police forces was met with skepticism. The spokesperson for the relatives of the Ayotzinapa victims called the measure “like his words—false,” and a move by Mexico’s lower house of Congress to revise rules on social mobilization (Senate approval pending) was received as a threat to freedom of speech and freedom of movement.

Why aren’t these strategies working? In part, because they were the wrong solutions to begin with. In his recent op-ed in El Economista, the founder and president of the Mexican think tank Instituto de Pensamiento Estratégico Ágora A.C. (IPEA ), Armando Regil Velasco, identified the root cause of the prolonged problem:

“When your moral authority is so fragile, it doesn’t matter what you say. Skepticism will impose itself and little to nothing will be believable. [The Federal government] lacks honesty, courage and determination.”

The Mexican political elite, with Peña Nieto heading the list, has lost whatever  trust the citizenry once had in them. The phrase “more crooked than a politician” has risen to new heights in today’s Mexico, and those brave enough to mobilize are finding more and more reasons to do so as more cases of corruption and inadequacy develop.

After two years of Peña Nieto’s government and with the current social chaos the country is facing, I wonder where those 2012 notions of “Saving Mexico,” “Mexico’s moment” and “getting back in the game” have ended up. The best place to look for them is probably in the gutter.

¿Por quién votarías?

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Hay muchos factores que determinan el voto de una persona en las elecciones presidenciales. Los factores son distintos para cada quién y tienen diferentes pesos.

En México hay quienes votan por el candidato y por su percepción de su “calidad humana” (sí, entre comillas porque la atribución a calidad humana de todo político que llega a estar en nivel de competir por un puesto de elección popular en México tendría que estar en tela de juicio).

Otros votan por la plataforma o proyecto de cierto candidato. Los que siguen esta vía generalmente acaban decepcionados al medir promesa contra mandato. Los políticos mexicanos son especialistas en promesas incumplidas.

Otros más favorecen a un partido en particular, ya que se sienten ideológicamente identificados con los valores que lo respaldan teóricamente. O en el peor de los casos los que votan por partido lo hacen “porque me gustan sus colores”.

Hay un grupo más que vota por “el menos peor”, evaluando implicaciones de la llegada de un candidato versus otro, la composición del Congreso con el que le tocará convivir y atendiendo fobias respecto a lo que sucedería en torno a un voto útil y sus intenciones de que cierto candidato no llegue al poder.

Y así como éstas, hay muchísimas más razones por las que definimos nuestro voto.

El día de hoy estuve pensando mucho en el momento político, económico y social por el que pasa México y me surgió un cuestionamiento que muchas veces he visto en los medios, pero que hoy más que nunca, me preocupa la conclusión a la que llego para responderlo:

Si las elecciones presidenciales fueran el día de hoy, ¿por quién votarías?

Me tocó ver los aciertos y desaciertos de dos Presidentes del PAN. Fui testigo de cómo desaprovecharon su ventana en el poder y no fueron capaces de contrarrestar o negociar con Congresos en los que no tenían mayoría. Vi la miopía detrás de su administración de una supuesta guerra contra las drogas y la manera en que el crimen organizado los superó sin vuelta atrás. No los culpo por la manera en que recibieron el país tras más de 70 años en los que más que pactar con el narco, se co-gobernó con él. Los culpo por su inhabilidad de transicionar a un modelo en que no nos diera miedo cruzar la puerta de nuestras casas. Me tocó ver cómo al ser derrotado y abrirle la puerta de regreso a la bestia, en lugar de reagruparse y armar una estrategia de concentración y fortalecimiento, el PAN se desmoronó al punto de que hoy no tiene un líder que pudiera considerar ni candidato ni presidenciable.

Me tocó ver al viejo PRI y al nuevo PRI. Me tocó ver la forma en que hoy “disentir” es una palabra prohibida en el Gobierno Federal. Me tocó ver el regreso y la exacerbación de viejos vicios y toxicidades de nuestra nación de antaño. Me tocó la dictadura perfecta reloaded y los escándalos con sus respectivos deslindes. Me tocó ver la represión en manos de un grupo que ha sabido estirar la liga y faltarle completamente al respeto a las personas que gobierna, llevándolas al punto del hartazgo y la frustración. Me tocó ver a este partido sembrando en las nuevas generaciones un nivel de alienación, resignación y rechazo al quehacer político que genera una completa desconexión e incapacidad de trabajo conjunto efectivo entre sociedad civil y autoridades.  Me tocó conocer niveles de descaro que no sabía existían en la condición humana.

Me tocó ver a un líder moral de un partido de izquierda decirle a su actual Comité Ejecutivo que debería renunciar y que su partido ya no sirve. Me tocó ver cómo de dicho partido emanaron personas que hoy son señaladas en Guerrero y Morelia como criminales y la irresponsable respuesta institucional a dichos señalamientos por parte del partido que los llevó al poder. Me tocó ver cómo al dejar de ser opción viable, uno de los mayores bastiones del PRD, hambriento y embriagado por su sueño de poder, decidió fundar un nuevo modelo de idolatría a su persona y propagar un discurso gastado y destructivo. Me tocó ver cómo el romanticismo detrás del pensamiento de izquierda hoy se traduce a facciones descarriadas, que aspiran a provocar mayor caos e inestabilidad con el único propósito de hacer así más probable su llegada al poder, por regla de eliminación.

Me toca ver los gritos y reclamos por justicia, así como las exigencias de renuncia al actual mandatario. Y no es que quiera que renuncie o que no renuncie esa persona por la que no voté y no votamos la mayoría de los mexicanos (con o sin fraude o monederos Monex).  El mayor problema es que HOY, buscando dentro del espectro partidista, simplemente no veo ni partidos ni posibles candidatos ni figuras presidenciables. Hoy en la clase política de México, ni siquiera encuentro al “menos peor.” Si las elecciones presidenciales fueran el día de hoy, ¿por quién votarías? POR NADIE.

Sí, sí me dueles México. Exactamente tres chingos.

Seven lessons from Mexico’s electoral process

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Here is a link to my latest article on AQBlog, titled “Seven lessons from Mexico’s electoral process“, published on July 2nd, 2012. Please feel free to visit and comment. Here is a verbatim copy of it in case you prefer to read it on my personal blog, though I recommend actually going to the site because of additional content, other blogger’s articles, etc.

With an estimate of around 37 percent of the votes, Enrique Peña Nieto’s victory in Mexico’s presidential race will be analyzed from multiple angles, including what this will mean with regard to the war on drugs, the economic model in place, relations with the U.S. and the rest of the world, and many other topics.

For the most part, Peña Nieto’s tenure will not imply radical changes in Mexico, for better or worse but the return of the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (Institutional Revolutionary Party—PRI) to power does say a lot about the way Mexico’s society thinks and operates. This electoral process has opened up an interesting window into the Mexican collective psyche. These are some of the lessons from the 2012 election.

Debates are not yet a vehicle for voter decision in Mexico.  There were three presidential debates (two official ones and one organized by #YoSoy132 to which Peña Nieto did not attend) during the presidential race. Peña Nieto’s participation in these dialogues was considered lukewarm at best. His rhetoric was empty but his poor performance was not enough to shift voter preference away from him and toward a second viable option.

We still have a long way to go to build political awareness and education. Peña Nieto’s success cannot be attributed to a strong and enriched political platform or to his superiority as a candidate over his competitors. One could not say that he is smarter, better prepared or better equipped to be president than his competitors. Peña Nieto’s success shows that Mexican voters can easily be manipulated (or convinced) through robust campaigning, a large TV presence and looks. As different media showed when they interviewed people at political rallies (for the three major candidates), a large quantity of voters had no idea of where candidates stood on relevant issues. “I trust him,” “He’s cute” and “I’ll vote for him because the other one is crazy” were some of the compelling arguments that gave Peña Nieto a victory on July 1. Sadly, we still have a long way to go to create an informed voter base. The candidate you saw more billboards and TV ads from, is the one that came out on top in voter preference.

Short-term memory plays a more important role than long-term memory. Peña Nieto won for many reasons but one of them was definitely that voters wanted to punish the Partido Acción Nacional (National Action Party—PAN) for its performance in the past 12 years and Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) for his lack of respect for the rule of law during his 2006 post-election shenanigans. Mexico was willing to forgive and forget and make peace with the PRI because as many voters put it “we were better off with PRI,” for the most part referring to the increasing levels of organized crime violence resulting from the active war on drugs set forth by President Calderón.

There is e-Mexico and then there’s Mexico. There is a clear divide among Mexicans with access to social networks and those without. On Twitter, users were appalled with the results. Even when all polls signaled Peña Nieto’s victory, Internet users were not willing to believe them. Conversations on Twitter and Facebook had been significantly dominated by AMLO and Josefina Vázquez Mota (PAN) followers.  A popular tweet on the night of the election was “I have no idea how they did it. Does anybody here know anyone who voted PRI?” For the most part, the answer was no. Peña Nieto was elected for the most part, by people who do not actively participate online. For upcoming elections, candidates should know that the segment of Internet users in Mexico will only become larger and they will need to actively engage them during the campaign.

The return of PRI does not mean the return of absolutism. This is not optimism; it’s just a very likely reality. Pessimists are evaluating the return of the PRI as a step back in our democracy because they remember the 70 years of absolutism; instead, it is yet another building block in our system which will put to the test whether or not we are a mature enough society to deal with altering power. The PRI will rule a very different Mexico from in the past. Civil society will be more vigilant and we will hold Peña Nieto accountable for his performance as president. Technology will play a significant role in maintaining a non-official discourse, with freedom of speech and free flow of information empowering a growing sector of society. Even with a party majority in Congress, Peña Nieto will have to answer to Mexicans who will either reward or punish his party in future elections.

PRI holding both the executive and a majority in Congress will be an acid test on government efficiency. Both Vicente Fox and Felipe Calderón of the PAN had a very good excuse when their effectiveness was questioned. They could just say (and many times they would have been right) that Congress was blocking their ability to operate and put forth structural reforms.  Peña Nieto will have no such excuse with a PRI majority Congress to not pass and implement the labor, energy, security and political reforms that society has demanded and that have been paralyzed by a non-cooperative legislature during the Calderón government. This will also lead us to question if Mexico’s democracy could actually work and be effective if a real system of checks and balances is in place.

Most people did not vote for Peña Nieto. There were more votes against Peña Nieto than in favor of him. Just like Calderón, Peña Nieto will preside over a country that for the most part, did not want him to be president and did not choose him. This is why last night he went on national TV to say that we should “set aside our differences and privilege our common goals […] we may have different preferences but we have something that binds us together: our love for Mexico […] we share the same challenges and must work together to overcome them.” While his inclusive rhetoric is exactly what Mexico needed to hear last night as it attempts to move forward from electoral campaigning divides, the fact of the matter is that winning by a relative majority surfaces yet again the need to implement a run-off electoral process, just like Calderón proposed to Congress (and was blocked). Given the results of last night’s election, would Peña Nieto have won in a second round of elections running only against López Obrador?

Interesting analysis of the three main presidential candidates in Mexico, by Denise Dresser

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A worthwhile lecture from Denise Dresser profiling the three main presidential candidates in Mexico.

Thanks to Xipactli who shared this link with me.

The Path of #YoSoy132

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Here is a link to my latest article on AQBlog, titled “The Path of #YoSoy132“, published on June. 27th, 2012. Please feel free to visit and comment. Here is a verbatim copy of it in case you prefer to read it on my personal blog, though I recommend actually going to the site because of additional content, other blogger’s articles, etc.

#YoSoy132 has been called many things: “the voice of a new generation;” “the Mexican Spring;” and “young people manipulated by the PRD [Partido de la Revolución Democrática, or Party of the Democratic Revolution]” are just a few. Whatever its true nature, this youth movement has left a new mark on electoral processes in Mexico—one which could shape not only the outcome but the aftermath of the 2012 Mexican elections next Sunday.

It all began on May 11 when Enrique Peña Nieto, presidential candidate of the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (Institutional Revolutionary Party—PRI), belittled a group of student protesters that had gathered at the Universidad Iberoamericana to repudiate his presence there. Peña Nieto called them a small group of rabble-rousers, accused them of not being actual students and minimized their protest to opposition made up of only 131 people.

This led to the students uploading a YouTube video showing their university IDs and claiming that their cause was shared by many more young people. The video went viral and the story spiraled into Twitter via the hashtag #YoSoy132 (“I Am 132”). Without a cohesive agenda or clarity with regards to what “being 132” really meant, people sympathized with the students and began retweeting that they too were 132.

A series of strange events followed, making the nature of the movement even less clear and more confusing. Initially, it seemed that the movement’s sole purpose was to demand objective coverage from the largest television news outlet in the country, which allegedly has given favorable coverage to Peña Nieto’s candidacy. However, allegiance to PRD presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) from some of the movement’s leaders despite being a nonpartisan movement, an inconsistent rhetoric of formally campaigning against Peña Nieto while calling for media objectivity, and conflicting messages from its members have left most Mexicans wondering what it actually means to state that Yo Soy 132

Students attempted to organize; they took to the streets and demanded that the second presidential debate be broadcast over the main TV channels; they held an assembly in order to look for an aligned, common vision. Judging from their concluding declaration and the following fallout of rogue mini-groups, they failed at this objective—but the movement continued to grow in a somewhat chaotic manner. #YoSoy132 was even able to hold a presidential debate on June 19 with an innovative format and the use of internet to connect different students from their homes to pitch questions to candidates. Playing it safe, Peña Nieto declined the invitation to participate.

Recently, the hacktivist group Anonymous, through its Mexico branch, published a video which calls out the federal electoral authority—Institudo Federal Electoral (IFE)—of apparent intention to manipulate the final voting tally in favor of Peña Nieto.

The “preparation for fraud” discourse has been heightened not only by Anonymous, but coincidentally by #YoSoy132 and by AMLO himself. While #YoSoy132 has been threatening that “Si hay imposición habrá revolución” (if there is imposition there will be a revolution), López Obrador has stated that he knows that the PRI is preparing a fraud but his team will be more vigilant to prevent it, similar to his accusations six years ago when he was the presidential runner-up to Felipe Calderón. To make matters more worrisome, the Ejército Popular Revolucionario (Popular Revolutionary Army—EPR) guerrilla group has recently applauded #YoSoy132 and stated that they would take AMLO at his word and support taking arms in order to avoid “a neoliberal candidate” seizing power.

For the sake of any functional democratic state, electoral fraud must be avoided. A system of checks and balances which is actually built in to the Mexican democratic system—including observers and scrutinizers, exit polls, citizen participation in the actual vote counting, and other mechanisms—seems to be insufficient. And while one should not be disingenuous and think that that these mechanisms fully prevent fraudulent practices from taking place from any candidate, a bigger danger is now present: What if #YoSoy132, Anonymous, EPR and others simply don’t like the outcome of the election because their choice did not come out on top, fraud or no fraud? What if Peña Nieto actually and fairly wins but AMLO, as in 2006, does not recognize defeat?

In the first weeks of #YoSoy132 emerging, people started comparing the movement to the Arab Spring and specifically the Egyptian deposition of Hosni Mubarak. While there is simply no comparison between the Mubarak regime and Mexico’s current political and institutional reality, there is one thing in common: Whenever a grassroots movement with no clear agenda, vision, values, or follow-through plan is able to cluster different groups together in order to eliminate or threaten a common enemy, it may be effective in damaging or removing the unwanted player from the mix—but dangerously ineffective in providing a long-term outcome which benefits all those who pulled together. Given the current state of Egypt, Mexicans should learn from this example.

Today, apparently #YoSoy132 means “I don’t want Peña Nieto to win”—but for different reasons. Some support the group because they feel traditional media should not be biased. Others like it because they want AMLO to be the next president. A few think that they support Josefina Vázquez Mota, candidate of the incumbent Partido Acción Nacional (National Action Party—PAN) by saying they are 132. Anonymous seems to want the IFE to be impartial and EPR says that being 132 means taking arms and not supporting the world’s predominant economic model. Some consider being 132 good and active citizenship; others a call to arms against the establishment.

While I applaud the awakened spirit of youth taking a more active role in this election and hope this will mean a larger young voter turnout than what was projected prior to the movement, as long as there is no consensus about what being 132 means, Yo No Soy 132 and I hope for avoidance of post-electoral violence, no matter who Mexico elects as its president this Sunday.

Pensando en deslindes…

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Yo quiero que ALGUNO de los candidatos a la Presidencia de México asuma liderazgo y responsabilidad en lugar de perpetuar el juego de los deslindes. AMLO se deslinda de sus plantones del 2006, del endeudamiento del DF, de Narciso Agúndez, de Bejarano, de Padierna, de Ponce, de Imaz, del canteo de Slim, de Bartlett, del charolazo de 6 millones de dólares, … Peña Nieto se deslinda de la Maestra, de Yarrington, de Salinas, del viejo PRI…, de Montiel, de sus propios hijos, de la investigación/amenazas a estudiantes… Vázquez se deslinda de su trayectoria accidentada, de las campañas ANTI y del descaro de que el Presidente de su partido haya asegurado la chamba e impunidad de Fernando Larrazabal al darle el primer puesto en la lista de representación participativa para ser uno más de nuestros orgullosos representantes en el Congreso (mismo que después reviró para sanear y mandarlo por vía de voto popular). Quadri -aunque en realidad no perfila- se deslinda de conocer a la líder del partido que lo postula y de tratar de ligarse a la edecarne del IFE. Con esos ejemplos y estas pobres opciones, ¿cómo quieren que la ciudadanía no se deslinde de participar en el proceso electoral que es su DERECHO y OBLIGACIÓN?