The Narco News Bulletin
February 18, 2018 | Issue #42
narconews.com - Reporting on the Drug War and Democracy from Latin America
Today, in Mexico, begins a "recount" of votes cast in Sunday's presidential election... in which the umpires are refusing to recount the votes.
Election authorities of the Federal Electoral Institute (IFE, in its Spanish initials) closed ranks on Tuesday with the National Action Party (PAN) of President Vicente Fox and candidate Felipe Calderón to oppose the actual recounting the votes. This, on the heels of Tuesday's "discovery" of 2.5 million votes hidden by IFE since Sunday's election, added to a growing body of evidence - and corresponding public distrust in the institutions - that a gargantuan electoral fraud has been perpetrated.
The partial "recount" began at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, in Mexico's 300 election districts - each with an average of 400 polling places and 140,000 votes to tabulate - and sparks are already flying over the struggle to conduct an authentic count in the sunlight of public scrutiny. Attorneys and party bosses of the PAN - whose triumphalism has turned to visible panic in recent hours - have orders from headquarters to universally oppose the reopening of any ballot boxes and subsequent public accounting of the actual number of votes cast for each candidate. On the other side, representatives of the Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) of candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador and many outraged citizens armed with video cameras have besieged the 300 recount locales demanding an actual ballot-by-ballot recount.
This first stage of the process is likely to take days: Results from more than 11,000 precincts (the ones hidden by IFE - in most of them, López Obrador won the vote) that must be recounted, vote-by-vote, in accordance with Mexican electoral law. That is an average of almost 40 polling places per district. And with two well-organized sides battling over whether the votes will be counted aloud, combined with the stonewalling incompetence that has been IFE's trademark, an already fragile process is coming apart at the seams.
Police cordon a Nezahuacoyotl garbage dump where ballots and ballot-boxes from three precincts won by López Obrador were discovered on Tuesday.
Photo: D.R. 2006 El Universal
The Armed Forces are understandably concerned about the very real possibility that history will be repeated: that they will be turned into the scapegoats of a process-gone-awry. If, as in the 1960s and 1970s, the military is to be called upon to repress a civilian population's protests, highway blockades, strikes and occupations of government centers - steps that are inevitable if IFE refuses to recount the votes in public - the generals will be turned into the primary recipients of the national and global repudiation that follows. Significantly, and distinct from the presidential elections six years ago, the Armed Forces have remained totally silent. Missing from the usual script are the previously obligatory statements by the military that it will unconditionally back IFE's verdict. There is the real possibility that if President Fox decides to try to quell the social unrest, that the military will refuse to become his enforcing patsy.
Although many and vast, the various federal police agencies do not count with the numbers to successfully contain a national revolt. The events of June 14 in Oaxaca, when 15,000 striking teachers repelled the dawn attack by 3,000 riot cops, is still fresh in the collective memory. With mere sticks and stones they beat back the batons, shields, teargas bazookas, and real bullets from real guns, of the invading police, sent them running in retreat, and took back 56 blocks of the city's downtown. The Mexico from below is more organized, united, and sophisticated than ever before. And, perhaps ironically, it is precisely in the states traveled in recent months by the Zapatista anti-electoral Other Campaign and its Subcomandante Marcos where the electorate voted most heavily for López Obrador and where the conditions most evidently exist to defend that vote in the streets and on the highways if need be.
The malicious behavior by the Federal Electoral Institute and its chairman Luis Carlos Ugalde - in their visible maneuvers partial to Fox's PAN and Calderón throughout the election season and since - was evident prior to the election, but on Sunday night became clear as never before to the Mexican public. On Monday, the bias of the "umpire" became clearer as hundreds of specific examples of fraudulent vote counts began to surface across the Internet. On Tuesday, more so, when Ugalde and IFE were caught red-handed in a big lie: their knowingly false claim that the preliminary results system had tabulated "98.5 percent" of the vote when, in fact, the IFE had hidden 3.3 million (more than seven percent) of the precinct tallies from public view.
Proceso magazine, on Monday, put IFE chief Luis Carlos Ugalde on its cover with the headline "Arbitro Complice" ("Complicit Umpire")
The first maneuver was transparent enough: IFE began its online preliminary count on Sunday by selecting result estimates mainly from the Northern Mexican states where Calderón won the vote. This was evident on the IFE PREP results because they were listed state-by-state and also by the five electoral regions of Mexico. Less than an hour after polls closed - at 6:57 p.m. - the earliest IFE results claimed Calderón had 40.87 percent to just 33.69 percent for López Obrador; a difference of more than seven percentage points. But look at this "photograph" of that moment in time.
Graphic: IFE preliminary count at 6:57 p.m. on Sunday. Click for larger version.
And so it went, all night long. With each and every update, IFE selectively released the vote tallies in a manner that kept Calderón in the lead. This is statistically impossible to do with a final tally of 0.6 percent difference between the two candidates (such a process with a close vote would, if reported as results came in, always show the tally tipping back and forth from one candidate to the other) - unless the results were being rationed selectively. (As example, at noon today, with 25 percent of precinct results tabulated in this very first stage of the recount, López Obrador has 36.98 percent to 34.39 percent for Calderón: the man "in the lead" is likely to tip back and forth all day as occurs in close races. That is what IFE's PREP results would have shown on Sunday night and Monday, had it truly entered the preliminary results randomly as they came in.)
Defenders of IFE explain this suspicious turn of events as one of "the rural precincts coming in last," where PRI was expected to do better. But rural district voters constituted the weakest vote for Calderón across the country; he came in a distant third among rural farmers. As the line graph shows, in that latter stage of the posting of PREP results, Calderón's vote trajectory continues to run in the same downward straight line that it had traveled since early in the night. Had these truly been numbers from rural districts, his trajectory (the blue line) would have dipped significantly farther below.
On Monday, IFE closed its preliminary results, claiming that it had counted 98.5 percent of the precincts. With Calderon up by 377,000 votes (about 1.4 percent) it seemed to the casual observer that his lead was insurmountable. The problem is, the IFE did not tell the truth. Only about 92 percent of the preliminary tallies had been included in that count, leaving 3.3 million votes out of the count. The claim - posted with the PREP results - that 98.5 percent had been counted was knowingly false. It was intended, as has every step taken by IFE in the vote counting, to create the false impression of a clear lead by the candidate of the State, Felipe Calderón.
This was a blatant act of tampering with the PREP results by Ugalde and IFE officials. As IFE's own website says: "La alteración de estos resultados es delito federal." That means, "Alteration of these results is a federal crime." The selective withholding of those results on Sunday and since - again, and again, and again - constitutes multiple counts of what ought to be a criminal charge against those IFE officials responsible for withholding the tallies and also for falsely claiming that 98.5 percent had been counted and included in the final PREP tally when they knew it to be false.
When, on Monday, Andrés Manuel López Obrador accused the IFE of hiding 3.3 million votes, Commercial Media pundits and columnists scoffed, accused him of conspiracy theories, and continued their permanent campaign to marginalize him and his supporters.
But by Tuesday afternoon, IFE suddenly "found" 2.5 million of those missing votes.
It is difficult to believe anything IFE or Ugalde say at this point given the documented deceptions they carried out on Sunday and Monday, but even IFE's accounting of those 2.5 million suddenly reappeared votes shows a strong lead by - surprise, surprise - López Obrador:
Obrador (PRD): 888,971
Madrazo (PRI): 809,003
Calderón (PAN): 743,795
Mercado (ASD): 28,040
Campa (NA): 13,096
Nullified votes: 82,452
Not counting the "nullified" votes, this narrowed Calderón's purported lead by 145,000 votes; nearly halving his supposed margin to 0.64 percent, or roughly 257,000 votes - less than two votes in each of 130,000 precincts.
As part II of this series will demonstrate, there is a consistent pattern of "vote shaving" against López Obrador between the official voting tallies (known as "actas") in precincts throughout the nation, and the PREP results. Narco News will publish photographs of the official actas and demonstrate how the PREP results published by IFE shaved handfuls of votes from López Obrador's local tallies - sometimes two, or three, or six votes; and frequently simply by chopping off a digit (in one case, for example, changing the PRD candidate's tally from 188 to 88).
There are more missing precincts (with more than 700,000 votes), plus at least 909,000 "nullified" votes that, given IFE's clear bias and unfair handling of the votes, must be reopened to find if there truly were grounds to nullify them.
There is more, so much more, to report. But the facts above alone obligate a full recount, ballot-by-ballot. And it is revealing that Calderón, Fox's PAN and the IFE are stonewalling in opposition to a public recount, while López Obrador and the PRD are insisting on it.
"El que nada debe, nada teme," is a popular Mexican expression: He who owes nothing, fears nothing.
If they are so sure they "won," why do they oppose a full recount?
At stake: criminal penalties for IFE bureaucrats if it is found that ballots were tampered with or "disappeared." That is one fear. The other - justified or not - is who wins the presidency of the Republic of Mexico.
If the IFE tries to rush to judgment and declare a winner prior to a full recount, Mexico will explode. The IFE, the PAN, Fox and Calderón are thus playing with fire.
To be continued...