Photo Essay: “The TV Is Yours, but Mexico Is Ours”
Images of the Multitudinous June 10 March Against Big Media’s Imposition of a Presidential Candidate in Mexico
By Alejandro Meléndez Ortiz, Photojournalist
Words by Al Giordano
June 12, 2012
“Hay luz, se ve una luz
Relámpagos que caen para alumbrar…
Hay voz, se oye una voz
Por las calles sin parar…”
It was at 10:30 in the morning at the Monument to the Revolution that an artists’ contingent began rehearsing its song and performance for the day’s march. The lyrics were painted on sheets: “There is light, a light is seen/Lightning that falls to illuminate… There is voice, a voice is heard/Along the streets that does not stop.” A half-dozen drummers and twice as many singers worked through the rhythms and the harmonies. These lyrics don’t show up on any Internet search, so I presume they are original. But this was no “Occupy Wall Street drum circle.” The key word being, rehearsal! The idea was not to have an inward-looking “experience” but, rather, to use the drumsticks and the voices to call attention to a message: That this generation will not accept the imposition by the mass media of the return of a detested regime.
On Sunday, June 10, a multitude converged on Mexico City for the march against presidential candidate Enrique Peña Nieto and the media companies that are trying to impose him in the upcoming July 1 election. There is already a polemic over the Narco News report on Monday that estimates the crowd size at around 350,000 (the official police estimate was 90,000). However many people were there, we’d like our readers to be able to see it with your own eyes. More importantly than numbers, we’d like to share the quality of these folks and the clarity of their message. And in the best hour, our colleague and friend Alejandro Meléndez Ortiz, freelance photojournalist for Notimex and other agencies, came forward with these photos that we share with you today.
This marcher may have been a child when the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI
in its Spanish initials, ruled Mexico for seventy years of the last century, but does not want a return to “Jurassic PRI
,” when Tyrannosaurs ruled the earth.
The Paseo de la Reforma is six traffic-lanes wide plus a median. Your reporter stationed himself at one point along the route of Sunday’s march and remained from when the march arrived 1 p.m. to when the last marchers came through around 3:30 p.m. That’s 150 minutes. The official police estimate of 90,000 marchers would mean that only 600 people (or ten per second) passed per minute. Most of the crowd was as dense as this, and moved briskly. I would estimate that more like 2,000 passed per minute. That would bring the crowd count to 300,000. But who’s counting? Let’s get to know some of these folks up close…
First, how old are they?
Our friend Oscar Olivera of Bolivia, professor at the Narco News School of Authentic Journalism says that successful social movements are “joyful, like water.” It sure felt that way on Sunday.
Of course, joy takes on many forms. Like this young fellow in the poster who says, “Peña Nieto, don’t even come to my kindergarten because if you do we will kick your ass
” He then signs off with the candidate’s campaign slogan: “I promise, and I comply.”
“Peaceful Resistance: Out in the Open” is what this marcher displayed on his back.
Here’s another message written on a spine that won’t buckle: “Blooming Conscience.”
While their parents and older siblings were raised on “Telenovelas,” the trashy nightly soap operas of Televisa and TV
Azteca, these youths have compiled a much broader range of information and entertainment from the Internet. They see the two big TV networks as a running joke. The black placard says “Mexico is not a soap opera.” And again, check out the density of the march!
June 10 also marked the 41st memorial of the massacre of 120 students who marched peacefully against the PRI
regime in 1971. This marcher’s sign says “You can assassinate students but never their ideas.”
Another long view of (part of) the crowd, with a caricature of Peña Nieto as “PRInocchio.”
“Vote Now, and Always Demand a Useful Vote,” announces this recycler of useless daily newspapers!
“Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent,” this sign announces with logos for the PRI
and the current ruling PAN
(National Action Party): “Enough with the repression.”
“With Memory and With History the Future is Now.”
I would like the US
Embassy and the State Department officials who think they can endorse an election fraud this year like they did so easily in 1988 and 2006: Do you really want to face these youths after a crime like that has been committed?
There are also reinforcements coming up behind the #YoSoy132 generation. Or, as the Aimee Mann song goes, “It’s not going to stop, ‘til you wise up.”
Our photographer, Alejandro Meléndez gave this photo to many Mexican press agencies. The graffito says “Press for Sale.” None wanted to publish it. But it was picked up by China’s Xinhua wire service and its flagship newspaper, People’s Daily, which with three million daily readers has a bigger audience than all Mexican dailies added together, and times three.
Not all the press is ready to play along with the imposition of another election fraud. In the march a new group called “Free Journalists” joined as a contingent.
At the end of eight hours of marching many returned to the starting point – the central square in Mexico City known as the Zócalo – to watch the presidential debate on a wide-screen TV together. The #YoSoy132 movement had already succeeded in pressuring Televisa and TV
Azteca to broadcast the debate on their major channels, something both failed to do during the first presidential debate.
Perhaps the official estimate of “90,000” marchers came only from this gathering, at dusk, of those who remained to watch the debate together?
“Televisa: Dictator of Information” reads the top placard. Below it, “They are afraid of us because we are not afraid.”
Now, does anybody, after seeing these photographs, think this is going away anytime soon? Or is a generational paradigm shift upon us in Mexico? I see one that is disciplined, creative, unified, and building beyond the July 1 elections – whatever the government and mass media will say results were – for the long haul and the march that is not a mere protest, but an organized civil resistance. The TV – and its power to manipulate national opinion – is looking a lot smaller and weaker every single day.
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