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Voter Worries in Mexico

7.08.2006

Greg Palast, of "The Best Democracy Money Can Buy" fame, uncovers worrying simlarities between Florida in 2000 and Mexico in the past week. Apparantly there is evidence of similar methods as were used in Florida to remove voters of certain class and background from the voter lists.


In a country with a history of 70-year one party rule and people who are capable of committing voter fraud to take power it is worrying that this should emerge in the only the second open contest for president. However Palast's uncovering of evidence of Washington involvement in the election in Mexico makes this seems a little more sinister that old elements of Mexico's ruling elite trying to secure power.


While it is still a little early to begin point fingers at Washington, this is definitely space to be watched.


Jeb's winning scrub list was the creation of a private firm, ChoicePoint of Alpharetta, Georgia. Now, it seems, ChoicePoint is back in the voter list business - in Mexico - at the direction of the Bush government.


As we found in Florida in 2000, my investigations team on the ground in Mexico City this week found voters in poor neighbourhoods, the left's turf, complaining that their names were "disappeared" from the voter rolls. ChoicePoint can't know what use the Bush crew makes of its lists. But erased registrations require us to ask, before this vote is certified, was there a purge as there was in Florida?


Notably, ruling party operatives carried registration lists normally in the hands of elections officials only.


There are signs of Washington's meddling in its neighbour's election. The International Republican Institute, an arm of Bush's party apparatus funded by the US government, admits to providing tactical training for Pan. Did Pan also make use of the purloined citizen files? (US contractor ChoicePoint, its Mexican agents facing arrest for taking the data, denied wrongdoing and vowed to destroy its copies of the lists. But what of Mr Bush's copy?)


Read the whole piece. While there is unease within the left over how to approach the USA, there is no way in the world anyone who is a supporter of democacy will support a foreign country helping incumbents to scrub those names who so desperately need to speak and be heard from the list of those eligible to vote.


There is another irony in this. Inequality in mexico is widely reported as among the worst in the world. While it may make sense in the short term to Mexico's ruling elite and the economic and political interests of the USA to support the elite over the increasing number of volatile anti-USA leftist candidates, supressing the voices of the poor in Mexico's slums only places a lid on a pressure cooker of resentment. Politics and democracy is about the betterment of a society through collective decision making. If the sizeable chunk of the poor who need the state to put in place the mechanisms to lift them out of poverty (and not simply build a conveyor belt to cheap unprocted work in the states) do not get heard then the anger in their number will only grow.


Protecting power and privelege will only work in the short term and with those on the ground being told that they just participated in free and open elections when they know that they were denied democratic existence and parity with rich voters, the only result will be revolt. Then we will see outpourings of opinion condemning the overturning of a democratic government which was never actually elected.

EDIT: Helpful piece from opendemocracy

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