Saturday, July 01, 2006

Election weekend...sober as hell

So this is election weekend here in Mexico. On Sunday Mexicans will flock to the polls in larger numbers than our own apathetic American populace. Though it seems Mexicans are also a tad apathetic (apathetico?) about there own elections, at least they have a reason to be. Multiple decades of corrupt one party control might do that to me too. In an effort to perhaps conquer this apathy, or just not have drunken brawls, the whole country (with some pockets of exception of the legal and illegal variety) goes dry! Yes, you read that correctly. For my alcoholic friends you can start breathing again, there is no liquor in Mexico. I repeat, no liquor in Mexico not the United States, continue boozing as you were. Anyway, from Friday midnight to Sunday midnight there is no liquor available for purchase in grocery stores, nightclubs, restaurants or, well, anywhere. Don't worry, I bought myself a six pack and put it in the little fridge in my room. I probably won't drink it but it does impart a feeling of comfort knowing that if I wanted to I could have a beer, Mexican government be damned! You have to wonder about the election turnout in the U.S. if this policy were implemented there, would it be any better? Something tells me that Billy Bob with his Caterpillar mesh hat, white (though stained) tank top, and cut off jean shorts wouldn't be induced to vote simply because he was sober. Preventing gay people from getting married, well that is another story! Anyway, I digress....

Election results in any form, exit polls, early returns etc. are not released until 11pm on Sunday night. This restriction is by agreement between television networks, political parties and election officials. The reason and/or fear seems to be that releasing early, potentially misleading results (here I'm thinking of Dan Rather (?) in the 2000 election) has the potential to incite several, largely negative reactions, including but not limited to violence. This is quite different from elections under the PRI dominated years when, as my instructor says, people knew who won 6 months before the election. Or something like that anyway.

The topic of our classroom lecture on Friday was the Mexican electoral system and while I will say it is different from our own in some very important and interesting ways, I'm not going to describe it. There are some very creative strategies for defrauding the system, much like our own creative strategies (no paper trail on the Diebold machines anyone?), but what really caught my attention was the manner in which votes are delivered to regional centers to be counted. Due to the rural nature of some of the towns in Mexico (ie. no roads) the government employs helicopters, trucks, some 200 donkeys and the military to transport votes throughout the country! Kinda reminds me of the postal service motto..through rain, sleet, donkey poop and gunfire, we deliver your vote to be counted! Okay, clearly I went off on some wild imaginary tangents with this information, I was just so pleased with the imagery of hard working, vote transporting donkeys.

So, beyond the donkeys, this election will have some important consequences for Oaxaca, the teachers strike springs to mind, and once I'm more informed about the results and what these mean for Oaxaqueños and the rest of Mexico I will write more. In the meantime, to those celebrating the birth of our own country this 4th of July weekend, drink lots of beer and give thanks that our forefathers fought and died so that we might be able to skip voting because we were totally drunk or hungover! Woo hoo!

No comments: