Grand Theft Mexico


Monday, July 3, 2006

Greg Palast in London
Matt Pascarella in Mexico City

Monday, 3 July The Guardian
Dispatch from Mexico City

The election race south of the US border is officially too close to call. Now, where have we heard that before?

As in Florida in 2000, and as in Ohio in 2004, the exit polls show the voters voted for the progressive candidate. The race is "officially" too close to call. But they will call it - after they steal it.

Reuters reports that, as of 8pm eastern time, as voting concluded in Mexico, exit polls showed Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of the "leftwing" party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) leading in exit polls over Felipe Calderon of the ruling conservative National Action party (PAN).

We've said again and again: exit polls tell us how voters say they voted, but the voters can't tell pollsters whether their vote will be counted. In Mexico, counting the vote is an art, not a science - and Calderon's ruling crew is very artful indeed. The PAN-controlled official electoral commission, not surprisingly, has announced that the presidential tally is too close to call.

Calderon's election is openly supported by the Bush administration.

On the ground in Mexico city, our news team reports accusations from inside the Obrador campaign that operatives of the PAN had access to voter files that are supposed to be the sole property of the nation's electoral commission. We are not surprised.

This past Friday, we reported that the US Federal Bureau of Investigation had obtained Mexico's voter files under a secret "counter-terrorism" contract with the database company ChoicePoint of Alpharetta, Georgia (See BUSH TEAM HELPS RULING PARTY "FLORIDIZE" MEXICAN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION.)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.

It is, of course, impossible to know whether the FBI destroyed its own copy of the files of Mexico's voter rolls obtained by ChoicePoint or whether these were then used to illegally assist the Calderon candidacy. But we can see the results: as in the US, first in Florida, then in Ohio, the exit polls are at odds with "official" polls.

In November 2004, the US Republican Senator Richard Lugar, in Kiev, cited the divergence of exit polls and official polls as solid evidence of "blatant fraud" in the vote count in Ukraine. As a result, the Bush administration refused to recognise the Ukraine government's official vote tally - proving once again that republicans are incapable of irony.

The foreign mainstream press has already announced, despite the polling discrepancies, that Mexico's elections were fair and clean, which would be a first for that country where Lopez Obrador's party has seen its candidates defeated by "blatant fraud" before. The change this time is that the fraud is simply less blatant.

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Watch for our video reports from Mexico City at www.GregPalast.com to be carried on Democracy Now!, with Amy Goodman, this Wednesday, July 5. Rick Rowley, in Mexico City, contributed to this report.

Matt Pascarella is North American producer for GregPalast.com. Greg Palast is the author of the New York Times bestseller, "ARMED MADHOUSE: Who's Afraid of Osama Wolf?, China Floats Bush Sinks, the Scheme to Steal '08, No Child's Behind Left and other Dispatches from the Front Lines of the Class War."

For interview requests contact: Fiona McMorrough at FionaM ( at) fmcm.co.uk or interviews (at) gregpalast.com

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