Thousands Demonstrate In Election Protest With AM-Mexico-Politics, Bjt
MEXICO CITY (AP) _ Thousands of people rallied Saturday in the main square in front of the presidential palace, and defeated presidential candidate Cuauhtemoc Cardenas again accused the governing party of widespread fraud.
″An important part of that fraud was deficient voter registration rolls with millions of names repeated, which do not correspond to those in the various electoral districts or are the names of dead people,″ Cardenas told the huge crowd in Mexico City’s Zocalo square.
Reporters estimated about 300,000 supporters of Cardenas’ left-wing National Democratic Front attended the rally that was noisy but peaceful.
The Institutional Revolutionary Party, which has governed Mexico since 1929, won the July 6 presidential and congressional elections but with the smallest margin in decades. Its presidential candidate, Carlos Salinas de Gortari, received just over 50 percent of the vote. He will take office Dec. 1.
The governing party released a statement Saturday night saying it will ″fight with the arms of the law for the full respect of the vote and the acknowledgement of the popular will″ expressed in the official vote count.
In the statement, titled ″Stop the Lie and Provocation,″ the party also said Gortari ″triumphed over his opponents by an absolute majority.″ It noted Salinas won in 27 of Mexico’s 31 states and that the party ″obtained absolute majorities″ in 249 of the country’s 300 local electoral districts.
The statement was signed by party Chairman Jorge de la Vega, Secretary- Genera l Humberto Lugo Gil, and three other officials.
At the rally, Cardenas also denounced the shooting of a Mexican television cameraman, saying it was ″another attempt against freedom of information and expression.″
″It is a violent action that seeks to intimidate the news media and foreign correspondents and photographers so they return to their countries and stop giving news about this Mexico in struggle in these post-election days,″ Cardenas said.
Gunmen in an automobile stopped Carlos Duenas’ car on the south side of the capital early Friday and shot him in the face. Duenas, 30, who had worked during the election for U.S. Cable News Network’s Telemundo program, was reported Saturday to be in critical but stable condition.
Marco Antonio Carrasco, a cameraman who was with Duenas, said the gunmen stole the victim’s watch and shoes. Investigators described the assault as a common robbery.
Cardenas claimed the attack was aimed at journalists in general ″so that they do not denounce any more violations of the law.″
On Wednesday, a gunman shot and killed Romay Gonzalez Reyes, a 32-year-old journalist in the city of Comitan near the border with Guatemala.
Gonzalez, director of the local newspaper El Mundo, was working in his office when he was hit by eight bullets. The killer escaped.
The Thursday afternoon edition of the Mexico City daily Excelsior said Gonzalez ″was popular for his defense of social and popular causes, which probably were the source of the attack.″
Cardenas, accusing the governing party of fraud, said: ″While being taken to district electoral committees, packages of ballots were opened, their contents were altered. On the one hand votes in favor of the official party were introduced and our votes on the other hand were removed.
″Many of these (ballots) were later found floating in rivers, in garbage dumps, in ravines, and others were simply strewn in the streets.″
By official count, Salinas de Gortari won the presidential election with 50.36 percent of the vote, while Cardenas was second with 31.12 percent.
Manuel J. Clouthier, a rancher and candidate of the conservative National Action Party, had 17.07 percent.