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Monday, July 17, 2006


Now that's a demonstration

A large number of Mexicans rallied yesterday to demand a recount in Mexico's Presidential election. Obviously no one knows how many; it's really difficult to estimate such a large crowd. But here's a typical description, this from the Los Angeles Times:

Police officials subordinate to the PRD-led city government said 1.1 million people took part in the daylong protest. Notimex, the semiofficial news agency of the conservative-led federal government, estimated 700,000 were present.
Note the denigration of the 1.1 million people by taking care to note the supposedly biased source of the number (incidentally, on Democracy Now! this morning, journalist John Ross reports that the PRD itself, as opposed to the "police officials subordinate to the PRD-led city government," estimated the crowd at 1.5 million). But even dropping down to the "conservative" (in two senses of the word) estimate of 700,000 wasn't enough for the New York Times:
Mr. Lopez Obrador led about 200,000 supporters down one of the city’s main thoroughfares and into the Zocalo, as the city’s main plaza is known. About 200,000 more were already waiting there.
Thus making a total of 400,000, less than 60% of the "conservative" estimate. Wouldn't want to give too much credit to, you know, actual people in action.

The LA Times, meanwhile, while providing a fair account of the numbers, did its own best to minimize the significance of the event:

Despite the crowd's size, it did not appear to represent growing public support for the leftist challenger's effort to overturn his defeat by 244,000 votes in the July 2 election. Dozens of marchers interviewed all said they had voted for Lopez Obrador and knew of no one in the crowd who had not.
First of all, why would it be necessary to demonstrate "growing" public support? If a million people are in the streets demanding a recount, does it have to "grow" before it becomes worth paying attention to? And does the protest only become significant or "growing" once Calderon supporters appear in the streets demanding a recount which might show their guy lost? Evidently so according to the LA Times.

The interesting thing about this kind of news coverage is that, with all the American talk about "spreading democracy," here we have enormous numbers of people in the streets making the most elementary of democratic demands, that every vote in an election be carefully counted, and that demand is not only unsupported but even denigrated by those "champions of democracy" in America. Exposing those bold proclamations about "democracy" for the empty words they are.

Of course, we know why the Bush administration might feel a little sheepish demanding that every vote be counted in an election. But that doesn't excuse the silence, or the implicit or explicit opposition, from the Democrats and the American media.

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