The Story: How Mexico threatens, harasses and bribes activists
May 11th, 2012, Universidad Iberoamericana, Mexico City. Presidential candidate Enrique Peña Nieto gets up to do a speech, describing his political platform before hundreds of students. At the end of his discourse, a group of students stood up and demanded an explanation of the government action in the civil unrest of Atenco in 2006, which resulted in violent beatings, rapes, and even death. At that time, Peña Nieto had been the governor of the state of Mexico.
Peña Nieto responded that he had acted personally to re-establish order and peace, that it was within the legitimate use of public force, and that it was found valid by the supreme court.
Many of the students didn’t like it, and began screaming at Peña Nieto, and blocking his path. In order to get out of the university, he had to hide in a woman’s bathroom for some time.
After the event, Peña’s colleagues claimed that the screams from the crowd were organised by provocateurs, sent by the opposing candidate López Obrador, that they were too old to be students – 30 or 35 years and up, a small group of less than 20 people. In response, a group of 131 youths posted a video showing their university identification. Social media exploded throughout Mexico, with many showing their support of the students, and their disapproval of Peña Nietos candidacy and later presidency, using the slogan “Yo Soy 132”, or “I am number 132”.
From there, the movement grew to a national phenomenon, drawing inspiration from the Arab Spring movement, and the Occupy movement, developing national assemblies to discuss events, and of course, to attempt to impeach the president.
In this episode, Kurt interviews Alfredo Romero, a long time activist in Mexico who was involved in Yo Soy 132, among other social movements, was threatened, prevented violent agents provocateurs from throwing stones, was accused of throwing the same stones, was arrested and intimidated by the police, and even offered comfortable government positions to silence him. Alfredo also talks about a couple of grass-roots solutions that are popping up in Mexico right now, including the work of Archbishop Vera López, who is attempting to establish a parallel government, focused on the voice and the needs of the community.
Join us as Alfredo lays out the dirty tricks used by governments everywhere to silence dissent in this next episode of … The Paradise Paradox!
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