Sunday, August 20, 2006


At the precipice

The PRD has produced a recording of a conversation between Manuel Espino of PAN and Victor Hugo Islas of PRI involving millions (whether dollars or pesos is unclear) to install José Antonio Aguilar Bodegas as governor of Chiapas. The PRI congressman calls the PANista "boss." AMLO played the tape for the people assembled in the Zocalo. So, who got arrested for handing out bribes? Why, the PRD, of course:
Police arrested four supporters of the leading leftist party allegedly caught trying to give away 36 tons of construction material to Hurricane Stan victims who promised to support the Chiapas state government´s candidate for governor in Sunday´s vote, authorities said.... Chiapas resident Rosendo Paniagua said he was asked to hand over his voter registration card and told to vote for Sabines, the former mayor of Tuxtla Gutiérrez, or he wouldn´t receive a box of soup, milk, cooking oil and other basic food supplies from the city. Paniagua said he and some 1,000 other senior citizens collected the foodstuffs after promising to vote for Sabines "or they wouldn´t give us anything."
For what it's worth, if the charges are proven, I hope they throw the book at them. But I also hope that the evidence of vote buying on the part of the PAN/PRI is also investigated. Because what this looks like is an attempt to shout down evidence of a massive vote buying scheme by PRI-PAN vs. petty patronage. Thirty six tons of construction supplies might sound like a lot, but if it's sand, gravel, and concrete, it might not represent a lot of money. Cement, for example, costs $16.39/94 lb bag, so 36 tons is about $12,000 or about 120,000 pesos. In Mexico, I would bet one would pay a third that price. So this vote buying scheme looks like small potatoes. Historian María del Carmen Collado Herrera says that all bridges of dialogue are broken, for which she largely blames the government. And things are rolling downhill quickly. AMLO has accused the right of offering bribes in the forms of cannonades of money and offers of public position to the electoral court. It's unclear whether he thinks they accepted. But given the amazing capacity of the PRD to intercept telephone calls, I wouldn't be surprised if they don't roll the tape. There are 3,500 cops around the Legislature. Democracies do not need water cannon and riot cops to protect the government from the people.
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