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July 03, 2024 


Crying Foul: Elections, Fraud, and Democracy

Meizhu Lui, for the editorial team

Trump talking with the military dictator of Myanmar (formerly Burma) after they ousted democratically elected Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi in 2021 after claiming election fraud


While it’s hard to imagine a democracy without elections, democracy is not solely determined by whether or not an election is held. That’s pretty clear when only one name is on the ballot! But free and fair elections can be undermined in other ways, including by baseless claims of fraud.


In the US 2020 election, former president Trump charged that he was the victim of electoral fraud across the US and claimed he was the real president-elect. His rhetoric propelled his followers to attack the US Capitol on January 6, 2020, in the name of protecting “democracy” and the voting process.


In Mexico, Morena’s opponents conspired to overturn the recent June 2 election before the voting, by claiming Morena was going to perpetrate fraud. Again, they accused Morena in the name of protecting “democracy.”


Recently, José Luis Granados Ceja of the Mexico Solidarity Project interviewed Rafael Barajas, also known by his pen name El Fisgón, about those charges. How is democracy really threatened in Mexico, and who threatens it?


What DOES ensure democracy, if not elections? Ballot boxes, voter registration procedures, and how districts are drawn can and often are manipulated. And, yes, the people themselves can be manipulated.


Countering that manipulation is the critical role the master cartoonist El Fisgón plays, and why he’s in charge of political education for Morena. It is the "demos," the people themselves — when they think critically and participate in the political process — that make a country democratic. We defend democracy best when we arm the people to recognize the difference between facts and dishonest propaganda, between truth and lies.

For a deeper dive into current news and analysis in English, check out our media website. And definitely see the new English podcast ¡Soberanía! (Sovereignty) with José Luis Granados Ceja and Kurt Hackbarth.  They entertain, while dismantling the lies and distortions about Mexico fed to us by the mainstream media.

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Right wing tries to discredit Mexico’s election


A few days before the June 2024 election in Mexico, José Luis Granados Ceja interviewed Rafael Barajas, the beloved cartoonist whose pen name is El Fisgón. He heads Morena’s National Institute of Political Education. We’ve edited for clarity and to bring it up to date, now that the election is past.

José Luis: Some in the PRI/PAN/PRD coalition called June 2 a “state election” run by Morena, reinforcing the narrative that the AMLO government is anti-democratic. What does that mean?



El Fisgón: Look, the first thing to consider is that a one-party state government governed Mexico for decades and made sure it ruled continuously. Those were real “state elections”; the state managed absolutely everything, from advertising to the casillas, the voting booths.


In fact, the National Regeneration Movement — Morena — was born fighting against state elections. It’s a deeply democratic movement. So when they accuse us of running a state election, it’s offensive.


In this election, yes, obviously, the government is represented by a political party, but it isn’t a state operation. It’s a democratic and clean election.

El Fisgón caricatured Xóchitl Gálvez, who put on  the indigenous dress, the huipil, and posed as coming from a poor indigenous background. She is a wealthy businesswoman who has made some shady real estate deals.

Big businessman Claudio X Gonzalez was the man behind the PRI/PAN/PRD electoral coalition. He founded Mexicans Against Corruption and Impunity. El Fisgón reveals the hidden intent: “Incredibly rich Mexicans against the politics that wants to stop corruption and impunity.”


In fact, in the last six years we’ve had several elections, and the opposition hasn’t ever been able to say that the government perpetrated fraud or meddled in favor of a candidate.


The Mexican right has an uninterrupted tradition of electoral fraud. It committed fraud in the very first election at the end of the 19th century. Porfirio Díaz remained president for nearly 30 years through the control of state institutions and even civil organizations like unions.


The PRI grew out of the Mexican Revolution, and one tenet of the Mexican Revolution was respect for suffrage. But the PRI consolidated very quickly as a state party and made sure they remained in charge of the government.

What tools might the opposition use to challenge and undermine the results of the June 2 election of Claudia Sheinbaum?


What we’re facing, what all the progressive governments of Latin America are facing, is entrenched de facto power — power that isn’t official or legal, power that relies heavily on the mainstream media and the judiciary. Winning the presidency and the governorships and controlling congress does not necessarily mean we have control over many aspects of governing. 


In fact, all the progressive governments of Latin America have faced media and judicial wars against them. The old regimes that dominated national leadership for many years claim that elections they don’t win aren’t valid and conduct forceful media campaigns to raise doubts among the people.

Norma Lucia Piña-Hernandez, Mexico’s Supreme Court/Handout, via Reuters

In this election, Norma Piña, president of the Supreme Court, organized a dinner at Judge Alcántara Carranca’s house. He is also a member of the Court. Three important electoral judges and Alejandro Moreno Cárdenas, the PRI’s president, were also invited. PRI’s president was introduced as a partner and ally, as was Santiago Creel, a PAN operative. That dinner is typical of the judicial partisanship that we face.

And what’s so important about this? The media has kept silent on that dinner. It’s as if it never happened, though it’s been documented.


The opposition wants to see how far they can go — if they can discredit the election results, they can stage a coup. If not, they can still weaken the future government and delegitimize it. Given their weakness and Morena’s strength, they are just looking for a way to keep their parties alive!


How should the progressive international community respond to the bombardment of negative messages about the election being a “threat to democracy?”


First, you have to find out the facts yourself. Then you have to break the media blockade; the corporate media outlets repeat each other and block critical voices. You have to break through. Alternative media have to inform the people of what’s really happening.

El Fisgon

Second, you have to understand how the process works. From there, you can  build appropriate networks of solidarity that can protect Mexico’s next government from outside meddling.


And look, transformation processes are contagious. So, of course, the right wants to hide our new reality from outside eyes. They say, “Nothing happened here” and pretend this transformation isn’t happening! If they knew, the US working class would be inspired to find out how the working class of Mexico has finally been prioritized over the wealthy few.  That’s what the global right wing wants to avoid.

There are also people who say that this was an ordinary election, just that a different party is doing the same old things. Do you think that this is a historical election?

It’s such an important election! It can mark the point of no return for Latin American progressivism (if the right succeeds in its delegitimization campaign), or it can mark the end of the neoliberal parties, which have dominated for decades. If the PRI, the PAN and the PRD lose, if they don’t win mayor of Mexico City or the presidency of the Republic, they will become extinct, and they know it.

Rafael Barajas gives political education talks for a wide audience, both domestic and international.

[Ed: On June 2, 2024 the PRI/PAN/PRD suffered a massive loss, and not just the presidency and the mayor of Mexico City. Their defeats for Congressional seats were also crushing. Already, the PRD is “extinct” since it didn’t win 3% of the vote for Congressional seats as required to be registered as a political party. What will happen to the other two neoliberal parties? We will see!]

Mexico City-based freelance writer and photojournalist José Luis Granados Ceja previously spent time as a staff writer for teleSUR and currently works with Venezuelanalysis. His writing on contemporary Latin American democratic struggles can be followed on X (Twitter): @GranadosCeja.


Because “We take nothing by conquest...”


For this piece we drew on the work of Howard Zinn (1922-2010), a historian, author, professor, playwright and activist, but also a shipyard worker and a soldier who flew bombing missions in World War II. His book, A People's History of the United States, radicalized countless people.

Weve heard Trumps threats to Mexico — from levying 100% tariffs on Mexican cars to pledging that hell immediately launch the largest domestic deportation operation in American history.” And that’s not all: Trump proposed launching missiles into Mexico to Destroy the Drug Labs,’” said the New York Times.


What? Invade the USs closest southern neighbor? The thing is, we know its happened before. Howard Zinn expertly traces Americas history of aggression toward Mexico.


President Polk “trumped” up a war in 1845 in order to seize Mexican territory.  Colonel Ethan Allen Hitchcock, a career army officer and commander of the 3rd Infantry Regiment, kept a diary.


Fort Jessup, La., June 30, 1845. Orders came last evening … directing General Taylor to move without any delay … to the extreme western border of Texas and take up a position … near the Rio Grande, and … expel any armed force of Mexicans who may cross that river …


Hitchcock was not happy about General Taylors military maneuvers.


He seems to have lost all respect for Mexican rights and is willing to be an instrument of Mr. Polk for pushing our boundary as far west as possible.


Later, he wrote again:


I have said from the first that the United States are the aggressors. ... We have not one particle of right to be here. ... It looks as if the government sent a small force on purpose to bring on a war, so as to have a pretext for taking California and as much of this country as it chooses, for, whatever becomes of this army, there is no doubt of a war between the United States and Mexico.


The Mexican War was controversial in the US, and many actively opposed it, but without success. Zinn ends his account this way:


Mexico surrendered. There were calls among Americans to take all of Mexico. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, signed February 1848, just took half. The Texas boundary was set at the Rio Grande; New Mexico and California were ceded. The United States paid Mexico $15 million, which led the Whig Intelligencer to conclude that "we take nothing by conquest ... Thank God."


Those that ignore history are doomed to repeat it.

Recent news reports and commentaries, from progressive and mainstream media,
on life and struggles on both sides of the US-Mexico border. Compiled by Jay Watts.

Edwin F. Ackerman, How Morena Turned Anti-Corruption Politics Into Class Politics Jacobin. Anti-corruption politics was key to the landslide victory of AMLO’s Morena party in Mexico. Morena branded neoliberalism a form of upward redistribution, rallying the working class under the banner of republican austerity against the excesses of the rich.


Étienne von Bertrab, Calakmul: conservación con justicia social Pie de Página. Si los medios de comunicación quisieran informar sobre lo que ocurre en la Reserva de la Biosfera Calakmul sus titulares resaltarían la considerable expansión de las zonas núcleo o que con su nuevo decreto se está brindando justicia social a las comunidades que les fue negada desde su creación en 1989.


Ernesto Hernández-López, Early US Fumbles in Tortilla War With Mexico Over GMO Corn Common Dreams. The U.S. government ignores the trade numbers and misconstrues Mexican policy when it comes to glyphosate and American corn destined for human consumption across the border.


Raúl Romero, Las luchas por el futuro La Jornada. La llegada de la 4T a los gobiernos de varios estados del país, desde 2018, no ha significado un cambio sustantivo en las violencias contra pueblos y personas defensoras del territorio y de la vida.


The Iron River of Weapons to Mexico: Its Sources and Contents Stop US Arms to Mexico. Political discourse focuses on the U.S.-Mexico border but the unregulated, massive and militarized U.S. gun market that feeds the violence, drug trafficking, and displacement is growing – and often ignored.


Timothy A. Wise, Conclusiones de la refutación final de México Contralínea. México rechaza la refutación de Estados Unidos, la cual no reconoció esa evidencia. Sólo se basó en estudios obsoletos que no toman en cuenta los patrones de consumo mexicanos. Los mismos están a menudo corrompidos por conflictos de intereses con empresas de biotecnología.


Alexander Aviña, Mexico is Sepia: The (Too) Democratic State Next Door Foreign Exchanges. Mexico’s 2024 elections demonstrate, yet again, that key segments of US media—those writers and commentators consumed most by policymakers and political elites—look at our southern neighbor through ominous sepia-colored lenses.


Miguel A. Romero, Familiares de Ayotzinapa exigen que sus peritos participen en análisis de la Fiscalía sobre restos óseos De Raíz. Padres y madres de los 43 estudiantes desaparecidos de Ayotzinapa señalan que a 117 meses de los hechos de Iguala, Guerrero, no hay esclarecimiento pleno de lo ocurrido. Reiteran su demanda de que se les den los 800 folios del Ejercitó sobre el caso, así como el regreso del GIEI y la participación de los peritos argentinos en el análisis de restos humanos encontrados en Guerrero.


Detained 63 Illegal Migrants Who Traveled in Unhealthy Conditions in Mexico Telesur English. On Sunday, the National Institute of Migration (INM) of Mexico, stopped a trailer containing 63 irregular migrants, which were traveling in subhuman conditions to the United States.


Javier Cravioto, Alazraki, la anomalía Alazraki ya fue, fue un fiel servidor del PRI, su tiempo ya pasó, es hora de que él y su séquito se recluyan en algún hospital psiquiátrico y den paso a formas decentes de comunicación. Las tías panistas tendrán que buscarse un nuevo marrullero que les explique el mundo.


The Mexico Solidarity Project brings together activists from various socialist and left organizations and individuals committed to worker and global justice. We see the 2018 election of Andrés Manuel López Obrador as president of Mexico as a watershed moment. AMLO and his progressive Morena party aim to end generations of corruption, impoverishment, and subservience to US interests. Our Project supports not just Morena, but all Mexicans struggling for basic rights, and opposes US efforts to undermine organizing and Mexico’s national sovereignty.


Editorial committee: Meizhu Lui, Bruce Hobson, Agatha Hinman, Victoria Hamlin, Courtney Childs, Susan Weiss.  To give feedback or get involved yourself, please email us!

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