Electoral Fraud and the Narco

The Narco News Bulletin

Pollsters Seek Meeting with Publisher

Narco News Replies: "No Deals"


Rob Allyn's Letter to Narco News:

April 17, 1999

Mr. Giordano:

I read with interest your email to me of last week. You make some very, very good points, and I am taking them up with our sponsors this week.

Can you and I possibly meet during our next trip to Mexico this coming
Thursday? We will be coming down to release our first pre-election survey.

Perhaps by then, I will have answers to all of your questions. I will work this week to explore whether we might be permitted to release the names of our donors. In the meantime, I hope you will appreciate the dilemma of our contributors, who retained us to work for transparency in the elections process -- yet have a justifiable concern over negative repercussions for their support of a project which those in power will no doubt view as anti-government.

Let's talk directly as soon as we can. I firmly believe, having read your bulletins in the past, that you will see that we are on the side of the angels in this matter.

Rob Allyn

Publisher's Reply to Pollster

June 18, 2000

Dear Mr. Allyn,

Thank you for responding to our letter of June 15th.

Since you have read my reports in the past, then you know: I am not going to negotiate with you or anyone. The facts, and how we report them, are non-negotiable.

So I respectfully decline your invitation to meet whether in Mexico City, Dallas, Washington or anywhere.

This matter began in public and will be settled here, in the open. The Mexican people have clearly expressed that nothing more about this electoral process should take place in the shadows. Their view guides us at The Narco News Bulletin. In true democracy, obedience to the people leads.

Furthermore, various Mexican citizens have suggested to me that to accept your gracious invitation would cast a shadow over the integrity of The Narco News Bulletin. Even if you and I were to have a completely innocent, even productive, sharing of views and information, there would be the appearance of conflict.

For the purposes of this letter, let me assume that you are sincere, and that you and your clients are "on the side of the angels" as you say.

I bring your attention to a column published this weekend by Jorge Fernández Menéndez of the daily Milenio. He is a respected national level reporter and author of the book Narcotráfico y Poder (1999 Rayuela). Here is a translated excerpt of his column of today that reports directly on your project:

"In other nations exit polls are very accurate, but in our case that is not so: nobody guarantees that when the voter exits he says what party he voted for to the first pollster that he meets. We have also seen campaign publicity by the PAN party calling upon the voters to say to the exit pollsters at the voting locations that he voted for whatever party but not to tell the truth.

"To infer results, thus, the exit poll doesn't work. It's worrisome, then, that according to El Universal, a group of politicians and businessmen "not identified because they could suffer reprisals" (sic) have contracted with three US businesses to conduct and exit poll because they don't trust the Mexican polling firms. This is a double irresponsibility: First, because ethically whoever contracts for this type of studies would have to show his face. Knowing who paid for a study of this type can allow us to deduce its direction. For example, and as one more fact: two of the US businesses contracted were consultants of the campaign of Roberto Madrazo: Are they still related with this faction? Second, because, as we have said, the exit polls cannot be trusted to give real results."

On this last point, I also bring your attention to an article in yesterday's LA Times by staff writer James F. Smith, reporting from the heavily militarized Oaxaca mountain region of Loxicha:

SAN AGUSTIN LOXICHA, Mexico--The aging peasant woman glanced nervously around this isolated mountain village and furtively tucked inside her shawl the opposition-party pamphlets she'd just been handed.

This is modern multi-party Mexico, not the old Soviet Union. And she was merely holding brochures of the Democratic Revolution Party, one of the two main parties challenging the 71-year rule of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, in upcoming national elections. So why was she so scared, even to give her name?

"This is a PRI town," she muttered, not wanting to be overheard, "and if we say we are from another party, problems can occur. We are afraid."

The "fear vote," especially among the 27% of the population defined as rural, could help hand the PRI another six-year presidential term when Mexicans go to the polls July 2.

Problems, indeed, can and do occur for those who voice their opinion. Talk to the wives and children of political prisoners from Loxicha who have vigiled for the past year on the Zocalos of Oaxaca and Mexico City.

Nor is Loxicha an isolated case. Fear is imposed in heavily militarized areas like Chiapas, Oaxaca, Guerrero, Tabasco, Campeche, Veracruz, Hidalgo and the nation's most populous state of Mexico that is distinct from and surrounds Mexico City (states in which, if there were free and fair elections, the ruling party would lose handily).

I need not remind you that the PRD party has lost 600 members to political assassination. The PAN party has lost some of its leaders to suspicious deaths as well. How does one conduct an accurate poll in an ambience of violence, fear and state repression? How would you possibly go about exit polling, for example, in the "low-intensity war" zone of Chiapas?

Assuming, again, that you and your clients are sincere advocates of true democracy, you have undertaken a very complex and difficult task.

You say, Mr. Allyn, that on Thursday of this week you will release the results of your latest poll. That will tell a lot. We have a very good sense of which sectors of the population - indigenous, rural and, for reasons stated above, opponents of the ruling party throughout the nation - have not been fully measured by the polls. We will view your first poll through that informed lens.

How can it be, for example, that the polls - almost all of them driven by financial and partisan interests - have placed one candidate with under 25% of the vote and yet he has consistently drawn record crowds in every city to which he has traveled? In the past four days, 140,000 Mexicans attended this candidate's public appearances. I'm not making a statement in favor of that candidate - we don't endorse candidates or parties at The Narco News Bulletin - but rather am making the observation that the mercenary polls have clearly not measured the true level of support for that candidate.

So please do inform us of the time and place of your press conference in Mexico City on Thursday, so that we can make every effort to send a correspondent.

As for the larger issue of your "Democracy Watch" project:

Given the public relations disaster that has already occurred within Mexico regarding your project (http://www.narconews.com/www.a-roba.punto.com.html), you might consider the following path:

1. Reveal the donors and other involved parties or shelve the project altogether.

2. Have a certified accounting firm that has access to all contracts, bank accounts and other information verify the facts of who is behind your project.

3. Remove the company of Penn and Schoen from the project because they were consultants to PRI candidate Roberto Madrazo, who, the day before yesterday, endorsed Francisco Labastida. There are also grave questions about that firm's lack of professionalism in the November 1999 PRI primary, and the sources of money of the campaign in which they worked.

The Narco News Bulletin hereby serves notice: the double standard of ethics by US political consultants who engage in behavior in Mexico and Latin America that would never be tolerated in the United States will not stand.

4. Accept no participation from the banking industry. According to the Canadian auditor's report on the Fobaproa bank bailout scandal in Mexico, every national bank was implicated. You will find more details on the relationship between Fobaproa, drug money laundering and the funding of political campaigns in our recent reports in Narco News.

5. You must guarantee absolutely no participation by the US Embassy, the State Department, the Democratic or Republican Parties, or any other institution that has already endorsed the electoral process as fair and transparent. These organizations have zero credibility on this matter. Some of them are sending "observers" to Mexico precisely to participate in the cover-up of electoral fraud.

6. Seek credible Mexican organizations to participate in and guide the project.

There are credible Mexican companies such as The Rosenbleuth Foundation, which offered the most accurate results on the 1999 state elections in Guerrero and, in fact, has paid a high price for its honesty, having been fired by TV Azteca. Obviously, if they are already involved on behalf of any party or candidate they would have to be disqualified. They have also done work for Mexican civil society such as auditing the nearly 3 million votes cast in the March 21, 1999 consulta for peace in Chiapas. We have not seen them on our radar screen since.

To be crystal clear: I don't know anybody in the Rosenbleuth firm - if I did, I would not recommend them because that would constitute a conflict -- but their work has been credible in the past and it seems like you could use some leads at this point.

If you are looking to meet with anyone it should not be me but, rather, credible members of Mexican civil society and election-watch organizations from inside the country such as Alianza Civica and the leading human rights organizations.

Again, points 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 are entirely dependent on the first: you must reveal the funding sources of your project.

We will watch with great interest your project's response in the form of deeds.

To borrow a turn of phrase from the late A.J. Muste:

There is no path to transparency.

Transparency is the path.


Al Giordano
The Narco News Bulletin