Surprise…. it is election time! Mexican students take a stand

Shame, shame, shame on me… Despite all the reading, despite talking to intellectuals from the entire world, despite working for global cutting edge technology firms, I am apparently clueless, and I mean clueless about what is going on in the country that saw me catch a breath for the first time. Yes, it is shameful to accept I didn’t vote any election of the past 12 years… I have been to busy sorting my life in Europe to even check out when I have to register for the Mexican elections… And yes, because I decided to reduce my reading of news and international events to a limited number of editions (this world sometimes sucks so much that it will literally give me nightmares) I pretty much found about the elections happening in a month’s time on Facebook… I wondered what was with all the political themed posting and reposting going on.

A coalition of thousands of mainly university students, unionized workers, and farmers in Mexico City have taken to the streets to demand greater freedom of speech and also to protest the possible return of power by the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI).

The PRI is a member of the Socialist International, but don’t let the name fool you—the party is actually quite “centrist” (the term pundits usually use to describe center-right parties) in most of its policies. PRI’s main rival is the left-wing Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD).

Dubbed the “Yo Soy 132” movement (Twitter users can follow protest updates by searching #YoSoy132), or the “Mexican Spring” by observers, this latest wave of protests marks the third large student demonstration in less than a week.

The name “I Am 132” symbolizes the continuation of the original demonstration by 131 students during Peña Nieto’s visit to the Jesuit-run Ibero-American University (UIA).

The name, “YoSoy132” alludes to a group of students from the Universidad Iberamericana, who heckled PRI presidential candidate Enrique Peña Nieto during a recent visit to the university that chased him off the premises.

After the incident, PRI leaders accused the Iberoamericana students of being intolerant, inconsiderate “stooges” paid to protest against Peña Nieto by the leftist PRD party. Which sounds completely moronic to those familiar with the Mexican college landscape.

Students claim their heckling of Peña Nieto was a grassroots event, uninspired or funded by any political party.

In particular, students have expressed frustration with the “monopolization” of Mexican politics and media. The example is a company named Televisa, which along with TV Azteca, controls 95 percent of Mexico’s TV market.

Similarly, students believe PRI has a monopoly of sorts on Mexican politics. The party has ruled Mexico unchallenged for seven decades, and has a very good shot of winning the July 1 elections.

Furthermore, students see these two monopolistic forces as being in cahoots with one another. Documents obtained by Proceso magazine suggest Peña Nieto paid Televisa for favorable media coverage while he was governor of Mexico State.

Proceso journalist Jenaro Villamil spoke to the Washington Post about Peña Nieto:

In his books and articles, which are being cited by Peña Nieto’s rivals, Villamil asserts that as governor, Peña Nieto gave millions to Televisa in advertising contracts to guarantee maximum exposure on the network’s programming, allegations the candidate rejects.

Much like the Occupy movement, which operates outside the political system, the Yo Soy 132 movement has not yet called for students to throw their support behind the PRI’s rival party, PRD.

Personally I hope they don’t either. And if I had to vote I wouldn’t know what to do. I belive PRD is as much rubbish as PRI is. I remember their multiple populistic measures… like giving money out to elderly in exchange for their vote, and it was nothing really, they’d just take advantage of the desperate situation they live in just the same way PRI used to give bags of beans and rice on the countryside. They both disgust me utterly.

This reality has led some political analysts, such as Hector Faya, to claim Mexico City–oriented protests will have little impact on election outcomes. However, the protests could impact candidates’ political agendas.

Police said there were more than 40,000 protesters at the demonstration.

Like in the case of Occupy, the establishment media has been somewhat dismissive of Yo Soy 132 thus far.

Yo Soy 132 might confuse some because it’s a general rejection of the status quo. That big, ambitious agenda of rejecting huge institutions such as corporate media could overwhelm many, which explains why the initial reaction to these kinds of movements is hostility and belittlement. Many may subconsciously feel it’s easier to mock than to join and fail, or be crushed by police.

I particularly haven’t been very impressed by Occupy in Hamburg. What I have seen on my way to work is a small group of people having a small goa type of party in front of the city hall.

Mexican writer Paco Ignacio Taibo II summarized why these kinds of youth-led revolutions are always a good thing for a nation that has grown complacent in its corruption: “The real miracle is that a complete generation that was condemned to apathy, to only observe, and to individualism, is once again making the nation’s destiny their own.”

I agree… I like seeing Mexican students taking a stand… I was looking with sorrow how they looked to be living without questioning anything… following the invisible checklist of expectations point by point… University, check… job/husband, check… children, check…next, next, next…. death… I’m proud to see they are alive.

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