By MARC McDONALD
Mexico's leftist presidential candidate Andres Obrador has rejected preliminary electoral results that indicated a slim lead for his right-wing opponent and called for a vote-by-vote recount to find what he said are millions of missing votes.
As it turns out, Mexico's progressives have every reason to be suspicious that the vote will be stolen by the right wing.
After all, in 1988, the leftist presidential candidate was deprived of victory under suspicious circumstances. On July 6, 1988, voting results had leftist candidate Cuauhtemoc Cardenas leading on election night. But the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) government halted the vote count, claiming that the computer it was using to count votes "shut down on itself" (se cayo el sistema).
When the computer system was restored, conservative PRI candidate Carlos Salinas was declared the official winner. Fraud was widely suspected. To this day, the expression, se cayo el sistema is a sarcastic euphemism for electoral fraud in Mexico.
Meanwhile, exit polls showed that Obrador triumphed in Sunday's election over Felipe Calderon, who was backed by the Bush administration. In fact, Obrador had led in opinion polls for most of the last three years.
But it's clear that the powers that be will crown Calderon as the "winner" of the election. So much for the will of the Mexican people.
As investigative reporter Greg Palast pointed out:
The FBI "obtained Mexico's voter files under a secret "counter-terrorism" contract with the database company ChoicePoint of Alpharetta, Georgia.
The FBI's contractor states that following the arrest of ChoicePoint agents by the Mexican government, the company returned or destroyed its files. The firm claims not to have known that collecting this information violated Mexican law. Such files can be useful in challenging a voter's right to cast a ballot or in preventing that vote from counting."
Does the name ChoicePoint ring a bell? It should, with anyone familiar with Palast's work. In 2000, his investigative team came across a list of 94,000 "felons" that Katherine Harris had ordered removed from Florida's voter rolls before the election. As Palast noted:
"Virtually every voter purged was innocent of any crime except, in most cases, Voting While Black. Who came up with this electoral hit list that gave Bush the White House? ChoicePoint, Inc. And worse, they KNEW the racially-tainted list of felons was bogus. And when we caught them, they lied about it."