September 5, 1992
By Yolanda R. Reynolds
On noon Friday, August 28, P.R.D. (Partido Revolucionario Democrático) supporters from as far away as Stockton and Watsonville joined San Joseans in a picket line at the Mexican Consul in San Jose, to protest the electoral fraud they say occurred in the July gubernatorial election in Michoacan.
The charges of electoral fraud in Mexico, and me illegal use of public money for the ruling party’s (PR1) campaigns, has recently been reported in every major American newspaper.
In recent years, “international observers” have been in Mexico to monitor elections. One of those observers, Rosa Diaz Robles a Californian from Sacramento, told La Oferta that in the last election in Michoacan. she and her fellow observers noted a variety of irregularities.
Among them, she said, were ballot boxes already a quarter full of completed ballots at the opening of the polling stations at 7 a.m. on election day, as well as, voter lists that had the names of dead persons, missing names of members of opposition parties and improper balloting procedures.
ln that area of Mexico in order to vote, the voter must present a card identifying him or her. Upon voting, the voter turns in the completed ballot and then the poll attendant has to punch the voter identification card – this prevents someone who has voted once, from voting again and again.
Diaz Robles says she encountered resistance at a polling stations from an attendant who claimed not to have the props equipment to punch identiﬁcation cards. She says that she had to forcefully insist and, ﬁnally, the attendant agreed to use a nail to punch the card. Unfortunately, Diaz Robles said they did not get to this polling station early in the morning, so many voters escaped her watchful eye.
Diaz Robles said that there were 38 observers who worked in teams of 6. She was sorry that they were unable to cover all of the polling stations – there were over 3,000 and they were only able to cover around 140.
The PRD feels that it was their candidate, Cristobal Arias Solis, who won. President Carlos Salinas de Gortari, on the other hand, announced that the PRI candidate, Eduardo Villaseñor Peña won and that he would be installed this September 16 as Governor of Michoacan.
Many in Michoacan have vowed to prevent Villaseñor Peña from taking office and have promised to barricade, with their bodies, the entrance to the Governor’s place in Morelia.
The protesters on Friday carried posters, positioned themselves at the entrance to the consulate on North 1st Street and alternately chanted
“Aquí y allá el Pueblo ganará! Salinas, peon – no vende la Nación! Bush y Salinas nos tiene en las ruinas!”as they marched about.
Beyond charges of electoral fraud, the protesters say that they want greater “democracy” in Mexico. They are also concerned about the economic policies of the PRI, particularly the Free Trade Agreement hat is the centerpiece of the Salinas administration. Voting privileges for Mexican citizens living in the United States has also been an ongoing matter of dispute and they promise to continue to insist on their right to vote.
They feel that Mexican consulates could serve as polling stations, thus allowing Mexican citizens living abroad, the right to vote on issues in Mexico. Issues that they strongly feel affect their lives.
Free Trade Agreement discussions have become increasingly frequent, at all levels, in both of our countries. The Presidents of all three Countries, the United States Mexico and Canada, have put the agreement on a “fast track,” causing alarm among some of the citizenry in all of the countries involved.
Both American and Mexican labor leaders are gravely concerned mainly multi-national companies, want the trade agreement in order to exploit Mexican workers – who generally are paid far less than the American worker for the same job.
American labor leaders feel that the same large multi-national companies want the agreement in order to force concessions and reduced pay from American workers.
Environmentalists in both countries are also concerned. In Mexico, environmental safeguards and regulations are not as extensive as in the United States. The environmental movement in Mexico is growing and there has been increased concern in Mexico for the lack of environmental regulation; but it is still not as extensive nor as organized as it is in the United States and Canada.
Both here in the United States and in Mexico, environmentalists and the community in general, are very concerned that once again industry, particularly the multi-national industrialists, is using the free trade agreement to force concessions from either or both countries in order to “increase their profits.”
There are many thoughtful economists and politicians who feel that the Trade agreement is good but others, equally thoughtful, who feel that it can be devastating to all three countries, particularly Mexico and the United States.
In Mexico, a typical example showed that the Mexican worker is pais 5 times less than in the United States. For example, in Mtamoros, the salary average for a worker is $2.99 per hour while in Michigan the average hourly salary is $14.92. The report goes on to point out that Corona Typewriters, which recently moved to Mexico, will pay a Supervisor in Mexico $4 dollars an hour, while in the United States that same job with the required beneﬁts would cost $18 per hour.
Some, both here and in Mexico, who support the trade agreement contend that it is better to have manufacturers move to Mexico, rather that to other countries abroad. They say that Mexico needs this type of economic development particularly since it is major trading partner of the United States thereby helping the U.S. as well.
Some economists tell U.S. citizens not to worry because they expect that many new highly skilled jobs will be created in the United States. But the very fact has raised much concern. Those concerned feel that in the United States the educational system is not properly supported and that workers, particularly the young, will be unabIe to get good basic education, much less the retraning that they will need in order to fill the highly skilled jobs of the future.
The issues are not simple Mr. Gortari has always said that he wanted to upgrade the status of Mexico from that of a developing nation to an equal partner of the United States.
The United States, on the other hand, says that it does not want to fall behind the other nations such as Germany and Japan. Supporters of the treaty say that a trade agreement between the three North American countries will enable them to become much stronger economically and position them to compete with both Europe and Asia.
In Europe, the proposed trade agreement strengthening the Common Market is in the closing stages – though it appears that the agreement could be in trouble in France.
Some Southeast Asian countries and Japan are trying to form a similar alliance there.
Señor Arturo Balderas, the newly appointed Consul to San Jose, was not available this week for comment on the concerns expressed by those who participated in the Friday picket line. Sr. Balderas was in Mexico and was not due to return until after this issue of La Oferta went to press.
A member of the consulate told La 0ferta that, unofficially, it was his feeling that voting privileges would be expanded and that the residency requirements would be altered in order to allow Mexican elections at their local consulates.
The other issues are more complicated and the answers to those questions will probably take some time to be worked out and resolved.
The issue in Michoacan – regarding the selection for governor will come to a head, on September 16. Members of the P.R.D. have promised to peacefully forcefully, resist the installation of the PRI candidate. © La Oferta Newspaper.