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But this did surprise me

20 May 2012

There were “Occupy” protests throughout the United States today (as well as similar protests in Europe), and Mexico also saw major street protests.

At first glance, the Mexican “anti-Peña Nieto” marches would seem to be unrelated to those elsewhere.  The largest, in Mexico City, attracted somewhere (depending on which report you accept) between 25 and 50 thousand (or more) demonstrators.  I think the crowd may have been significantly larger.  The photo at left shows Reforma, from the Angel — at calle Florencia and the palm tree is about a third of a kilometer’s distance.  The street here, with a parks on either side, is equivalent to a 12-lane highway).     There were coordinated protests throughout the Republic, but the crowd estimates have to be taken with a large grain of salt, given WHAT was the real object of the protests

While rejection of the PRI candidate (not necessarily in favor of AMLO) was the calling card, the impetus for the “Marcha anti-Peña Nieto” has been the PRI’s co-option of the mainstream media and the allegations that polling organizations and the like are misleading the public into believing a PRI presidential victory is a given.

Although there have been larger marches in Mexico City in recent years … notably “anti-crime” marches, they were pushed and propagandized incessantly by the television networks with the support of the Administration. Televisa being one of the chief targets of the protesters, it wasn’t about to receive free PR on their news broadcasts (well, come to think of it, Peña Neito’s constant presence wasn’t exactly “free” … something marchers were eager to bring to the public’s attention).  There was very little mention in the regular press, not even in the reliably leftist la Jornada (which doesn’t have a large circulation nationally, anyway).

The “anti-Peña Nieto” marchers were organized was on the internet… through Facebook and Twitter and by mention in blogs and emails and some of the alternative on-line publications (mostly pro-AMLO).  I’d seen mention of it, to be sure, but didn’t expect anything much beyond the usual Mexican mass protest — a march down Reforma, some inconvenienced drivers, a few passionate speeches and… maybe a picture or two in the morning papers.  Not only did it come off, it appears that motorists weren’t inconvenienced, but were showing their support for the marchers.

That not all the protesters were students and youngsters (campesino groups and the electrician’s … two groups that you expect to show up at any lefty event were there, along with others), it does appear to be a younger crowd that turned out.  I haven’t seen the Televisa coverage (and I don’t watch much TV these days), but media outlets like Milenio-TV, connected with the pro Peña-Nieto Milenio newspapers, focused on the “youthful” crowd.  So did Roy Campos, of the Mitofsky polling group. Campos is quoted by Reuters as pointing out that 18-24 year olds are 13 percent of potential voters.

Pollsters are said to be in the bag for Peña Nieto (which may be wishful thinking).   I too doubt the pollsters, but because I think the Mexican electorate and electoral landscape has changed rapidly, and the assumptions used in drawing up polls, and the wording of the questions, may be skewing the results.  Campos, making the assumption that the anti-Peña Nieto “front” (if that’s the right word) is ONLY the traditional University student age cohort, illustrates what I mean.  While that is the group most likely to use the internet (and cell phones and facebook, etc.) to organize protests, and it has been the universitarios that have been the most active in pushing this unusual “anti-campaign”, they may be only the tip of the iceberg.  And, here in Mexico, getting a university education is still somewhat of an event in a family, and the student(s) in one’s extended family are likely to be listened to by their relations with much more respect than one might give older family members.

Though not always, apparently.  In this clip, from Colima, an “adult” PRI supporter punches out … ironically enough… not a anti-Peña Nieto marcher, but a reporter — you know, one of those media guys —

… well, we use maleducado for “ill-mannered boob” and not just “dumb shit” for a reason.

In the next few days, we’ll see how this is spun by the various media chains, and by the parties.  From comments on various websites, I expect the Peña Nieto campaign will be pushing the meme that the protests were too well organized to be an amateur production.   “Anonymous” — which based on their supposed attack on the “cartels” and their Anglo-Texan supposed spokesperson trying to sell a book contract, as well as the Castillian accent used by their masked on-screen speaker makes me extremely skeptical of their connections to Mexico, and their purposes — launched a denial of service attack on Peña Nieto’s campaign website, timed to coincide with the marcha.

If Anonymous was involved in the movement, it is unfortunate, but the overall rejection of politics as usual, and the demand for more accountability from the establishment leadership (here, the media and the political parties), is not all that different from what is driving the “Occupiers” and “Inconformes” elsewhere in the west.  Or the Arab Spring, or the Chilean student protests, or the…

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