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Mexico’s election: I am one hundred and thirty-two (from IKN160)

From yesterday’s edition of The IKN Weekly:

Mexico’s election: I am one hundred and thirty-two
We continue to keep an eye on developments in the Mexico election, with the latest being an upsurge in student and youth interest via an online movement going under the name “Yo Soy 132”, (“I am 132”). In general terms, this started when the PRI candidate and current frontrunner, Enrique Peña Nieto (EPN) spoke at the Iberoamericana University (UIA) on May 11th (yes just 16 days ago, these things spread quickly). At the speech he got into a discussion with students who made a particular point of pressing him on his actions as governor of Mexico State in the town of San Salvador Atenco in 2006 (13) (a famous incident in Mexico of police brutality that ended with two dead, dozens of women sexually assaulted by police and hundreds arrested), when he ordered the repression of protests at the time. The university appearance turned into a PR nightmare when EPN had to be quickly shuffled out the building under cries of “Murderer!” and “Garbage TV Candidate” but his handlers then made it worse. The PRI spin committee decided on a tack of calling the university protesters “a handful of infiltrators and manipulators”, trying to tell the world that the protests weren’t led by real students but extremists who had got into the hall under false pretenses.
Big mistake, guys. Like really big.
That might have worked ten or 20 years ago, but we now live in a different age of communication and the PRI false spin was quickly returned to them with massive interest on top. The first move was a Youtube video produced by the students who protested in the hall that day called “131 students of the Ibero answer (watch it here (14)) in which 131 protesters that day showed the PRI spin as false by plainly identifying themselves as students of the university, rather than being a handful of infiltrators. The students also noted that the incident wasn’t even reported on pro-PRI news channels such as the national Televisa channel. The video has gone viral, with over 1m hits already, and from it the twitter hashtag #marchayosoy132 immediately sprang up, which means “March, I am 132” and alludes to solidarity with the 131 students by saying that “I am the 132nd person here, count me in too”. This hashtag has gone viral in Mexico too and is a rallying point for student voices in this election and with that we now get to the point of this quick resume of events.
The “Yo Soy 132” movement has already been likened to a sort of Arab Spring inside Mexico. Youth and student participation in elections has always been notably apathetic in the country and the 18-29 age group ignored by politicians of all sides. But suddenly young Mexicans find themselves with a platform and a voice, be it as it may a hastily constructed platform, and a newly found mass interest in this election process. It’s taken the political parties by surprise and according to recent reports and commentary by trusted Mexican sources, there’s a sudden change in TV campaigns from all sides to address this young audience. The stakes are high too, with an estimated 24 million Mexicans between the ages of 18 and 29 (i.e. 30% of the total voting population) and at least 20% of them undecided in their vote preference. Those kind of numbers can make a big difference to momentum at a crucial point in the election. The potential big winner from this newfound interest in politics amongst Mexico’s youth is left wing PRD candidate AMLO (though he’s best considered centre-left these days), now running second to EPN and although the gap between 2nd and 1st is hotly debated amongst the somewhat unreliable Mexican pollsters (15) most agree that AMLO is gaining some momentum and come the day of the vote on July 1st  things will be closer than they are today (though how much closer is anyone’s guess). We again remind readers that of the three main candidates, AMLO is the one perceived as negative to the Mexican mining industry status quo. We will of course continue to monitor this election closely in the weeks left before the vote.

And here’s the video mentioned in the text. Might turn out to be one of the more important youtubes ever.

We shall see.

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