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REALITY CHECK:

MEXICO ELECTIONS 2000 REPORT
GUBERNATORIAL ELECTIONS
CHIAPAS, MEXICO, AUGUST 20, 2000

HUMANITARIAN LAW PROJECT

The Humanitarian Law Project (HLP) is a non-profit organization founded in 1985, dedicated to protecting human rights and promoting the peaceful resolution of conflict by using established international human rights laws and humanitarian law. The Humanitarian Law Project is a non-governmental organization (NGO) with consultative status at the United Nations with a mandate to seek compliance with armed conflict laws.

It is within the context of our organizational mandate that we observed the electoral process in the Mexican State of Chiapas.

OVERVIEW

PRE-ELECTORAL OBSERVATION

One of the more disturbing decisions by the CEE was their decision NOT to place casillas (polling sites) where many had been placed in the July 2 elections. In the case of the Acteal residents, the casilla was placed in the known paramilitary community in Acteal Alto (Canolal) for the August 20 elections. They also had the option to vote in Majamut, a nearby military base. Equally disturbing, the displaced from Pohlo-perhaps 12,000 people-would have to vote in Chamula or San Cristóbal, which would force refugees to walk almost 30 miles if they chose to vote in either. In Ocosingo, we found that the CEE elected to place the casilla directly adjacent to the police station rather than across the Zocalo courtyard where it was placed on July 2.

THE ZAPATISTA VOTE

Elections are often regarded as an alternative to armed conflict and this may be true when the expressed wish of the party to the conflict is to seize state power. The particular conflict in Chiapas is different in this regard. The demands of the Zapatistas as articulated throughout the conflict, center around very basic civil and human rights issues as well as for a form of municipal autonomy that seeks to develop and to preserve their democratic and cultural traditions. Nor, do the Zapatistas seek to secede from Mexico. Therefore, traditional state-sponsored elections may not necessarily serve as the consummate alternative to this particular conflict. Although, because of the specific outcome of this election, they may serve as a positive ingredient in the peace process.

In July, HLP election observers, Lydia Brazon, Stephen Kerpen and Niels Frenzen, traveled to several Zapatista base communities. In the communities we traveled to, there were in fact casillas placed in close proximity to the communities for the federal elections of July 2. This was not the case for the August 20 elections. In addition to the instances cited in the previous section, a significant number of casillas were located too far from the communities to be adequately accessible. Security concerns in traveling such distances were also a key factor in the decision of whether or not to go out and vote. There were also issues relevant to the lack of credentials to vote in those communities. The war refugees usually arrive in a refugee settlement without their I.D. because all of their papers and forms of I.D. are routinely stolen by military, police or paramilitary in the course of incursions into these communities.

In addition to the refugees who don't have voting credentials, the Zapatistas themselves have denounced that the very process of obtaining the credentials was controlled by military intelligence. That is to say, those in the elctoral institute passed on information obtained from members of the communities, to members of the military; this was done with the clear objective of counterinsurgency control over the population in the conflict zone.

We consider that the conditions simply were not conducive for the August 20 electoral participation of most Zapatista base communities.

ELECTION DAY CATEGORIES OF IRREGULARITIES, MISCONDUCT AND ABUSE:

  • Direct and indirect intimidation by police, party bosses, paramilitary presence
  • Vote was not secret.
  • Curtains were missing in most casillas.
  • Voters were "shaved" off of the voter lists.
  • Rollcall of voters
  • Party representatives only had small stickers as ID, and this was missing about half the - time
  • Use of small laminated PRI logo cards and the failure to keep the polls free of them Especiales: multiple problems found.

PRE-ELECTORAL AND ELECTION DAY VIOLENCE

The beating of a journalist by paramilitary and the forcing of observers out of Miguel Alemán had the desired effect on those who learned of the incident on Election Day. The fear and dismay were palpable among those we spoke to in Tila immediately following the attack.

Fortunato Lopez, president of a casilla was murdered the day prior to the election in Simojovel

In Abasolo, a presumed member of the paramilitary attempted to hit, Norma Vega, a member of the HLP election team, with his taxi.

DEBRIEFINGS

It wasn't until we met with other observer groups that we were able to determine which irregularities were isolated, regional and/ or systemic patterns. For example, the early closing of the casillas, leaving of the PRI logo cards (logotipos) and non-distribution of curtains, were clearly a generalized strategy given the scale that both were evident. Attending the Alianza Cívica press conference where the Mexican observers gave their reports as well as the meeting organized by the UN and the one by SERAPAZ and El Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Bartolome' de las Casas, were extremely valuable. The specific anomalies were often the same, although the conclusions varied.

CONCLUSIONS

The most notable asset in the August 20, 2000 elections in Chiapas was the observer and party representative presence at the casillas. In our opinion, that citizen observer and party representative presence was one of the most significant factors in the voter turnout and voter confidence in the process, We believe citizen participation will continue to be the greatest deterrent to electoral abuse. We were encouraged by the determination of citizens to participate in the electoral process but were disappointed by the electoral abuse we observed that was once again, amply evident in this process. The 50% participation was exceptional considering a climate where violence and recrimination were a very real possibility.

Compared to the elections we observed in 1994 and 1997, our conclusion is that the electoral abuses, irregularities and fraud were the same if not greater, in scope but not in scale. And that the scale was lessened primarily by the presence of Mexican observers and party representatives in particular, and secondarily by international observers and members of the media.

We would like to stress that we do not regard the quality of the electoral process to be solely defined by its outcome. We dealt more extensively with this issue in our report on Mexico's Federal Elections of July 2. The prevailing analysis that a change in party governance was the definitive criteria in both elections can only serve to obscure the very real need for structural reform as well as a collective will to develop and preserve a more participatory electoral process.

Our concern remains that because opposition party candidates were the victors in both federal and Chiapas elections, that this fact alone upstages the electoral abuses that include pre-electoral intimidation. HLP considers the effect of violence and intimidation on the electoral process cannot be quantified or underestimated and is rarely given the weight it deserves in evaluating the quality of an electoral process.

Having participated in the observation process of both the July 2 and August 20 elections, it seems apparent to us that the primary reason the opposition party candidates won, was because of the substantial leads both enjoyed as reflected in the pre-election polls. In other words, the fraud however vast, was simply insufficient to dilute the Salazar victory but certainly sufficient to diminish the degree of his advantage. In closer races, the degree of electoral abuse would have most definitely determined the outcome. Given the pre-electoral polls and preferences voiced to us, it is probable that both candidates won by a far greater margin than the final figures suggest. If nothing else, that margin by which they may have been defrauded, is skewed and robs the victor of determining the magnitude by which his mandate garnered support; there is ample evidence to suggest that governance adjusts accordingly. This is particularly true in the case of a candidate like Mr. Salazar who has declared his plans for inclusiveness in his government. The perceived support of the respective platforms, could conceivably factor in on his assessment of his program.

The area of greatest concern to HLP is that of the intimidation by police, paramilitary and party bosses on Election Day and the excessive and permanent military presence.

The gravity of pre-electoral violence cannot be stressed enough. HLP experienced this first-hand when a presumed paramilitary almost hit one of our observers with his taxi, following his threatening statements to the delegates and our driver. In Tila, we were told of a serious case of Election Day violence in nearby Miguel Alemán where one man was beaten and observers were run out of the community. Later that night we learned about the case of a casilla president in Simojovel who was killed. And, other cases of post-electoral violence have since been reported in the press.

Another area of deep concern was the lack of independence on the part of the CEE. This was not only demonstrated in what we experienced during the credentialing process but also in the reports we received regarding the computers that "went down" on election night and only came back up after protest to the federal government by candidate Salazar Mendiguchía. This was eerily reminiscent of 1988 when "Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas with a groundswell of national popular support, challenged the PRI electorally as never before in its entire history. On Election Day the electoral returns showed a comfortable lead by Mr. Cárdenas over Mr. Salinas. The computers inexplicably 'went down' and when they 'came back up', Mr. Salinas was the winner." (HLP election report, 1994)

The CEE's decision not to utilize the much improved situating of casillas established in the July 2 elections was a definite setback to the process. At least 100 casillas were removed from regions known as "opposition territory" making it difficult for targeted sectors to participate in the election.

Not enough appeared to be done to prepare the non-Spanish speaking electorate. Bi-lingual electoral education in an indigenous populated state like Chiapas is imperative. The need was apparent for pre-electoral training and strategies to reach a non-fluent (in Spanish) population and consideration for the varying levels of literacy in the region.

We would also like to stress the need of granting foreign election observers credentials and multi-entry visas for at least 6 months prior to and following the elections in order to adequately observe the electoral process.

Given the widespread problems such as the closing of casillas and the choice not to distribute curtains for the casillas, it is our opinion that these practices were premeditated and systemic and speak to a lack of will on the part of electoral authorities to hold democratic elections.

The issue of Special Casillas continues to be an issue that since 1994 has not improved. This problem is closely linked to the "shaving" of voters from the voter lists. We believe this to be a problem with the electoral authorities as well as the individual parties that have not determined to resolve it. Both may benefit from technical assistance programs with international models to which they can refer.

In closing, HLP considers, that the electoral model used in this election which has become the global standard by which the right to one's choice of government is determined, fails as the sole or primary means by which to gauge a participatory democratic process. In Chiapas, for example, this process short-circuits the often hyper-democratic process inherent in indigenous society.

We look forward to the development and preservation of "choice of government" structures that are more accessible, in every respect, to the population it purports to serve.

HLP would also like to encourage more human rights organizations to participate in election observation. Issues of coercion, intimidation and violence that we have observed are without a doubt paramount and within the purview of human rights observation.

Humanitarian Law Project's five member election observer team:

  • Lydia Brazon, Executive Director, Humanitarian Law Project (HLP), election observer for HLP in Mexico in 1994, 1997 and July 2, 2000.
  • Dr. Kathryn Dowling, environmental scientist and HLP board member and HLP election observer in Nicaragua in 1996
  • Patrick Bonner, schoolteacher and HLP election observer in Chiapas, 1997
  • Norma Vega, HLP intern and legal assistant at MALDEF
  • Gabriel Buelna, University Professor and HLP election observer, July 2, Mexico City.

All five members of our team were bi-lingual English/Spanish speaking.

The Candidates:

  • Pablo Salazar Mendiguchía- An independent senator at the head of an eight-party alliance, Alianza por Chiapas. Mr. Salazar won the election with 51.5% of the vote.
  • Sami David David of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI)
  • Mario Arturo Countiño Farrera was the candidate for the Democracia Social Partido Politico Nacional (PSN) his other affiliations are, Partido Revolucionario de los trabajadores and Partido Socialista Unificado de Mexico.

Casilla = Polling place


DETAILED REPORT

ACCREDITATION PROCESS, July 17-July 31, 2000

The Consejo Electoral Estatal (CEE), the electoral council for the state of Chiapas, readily facilitated applications for our foreign visitor accreditation. Our delegation received their letters of accreditation in a relatively timely manner. Problems arose when we attempted to acquire our electoral visas at the Los Angeles Consulate's office. We were told that they had not yet received the "clearance" list from the federal government. We subsequently learned that none of the U.S. consulates had received the lists until August 7. In our case, in Los Angeles, after having made an appointment on Tuesday, August 8, to proceed with the process required to receive the visa, we were told that the federal government had not yet sent the necessary visa form. After a few hours of engaging a number of agencies to assist us, we were finally told we could proceed and they issued the visas to our delegation. We believe, given that we were a known entity accredited by the government in 1994 and then again in 1997 as well as for the July 2,2000 federal elections, that this was a delay tactic to prevent us from observing the many pre-electoral problems that were subsequently reported. In this regard, the process served as an unnecessary impediment to electoral observation for foreign observers.

The HLP observation team was also accredited by Alianza Cívica, a non-governmental organization dedicated to the promotion of civil rights and social development. HLP has observed elections in concert with Alianza Cívica since 1994.

NOTE: We have included the CEE tally in an effort to assess the effect that the various incidents we observed or were otherwise reported affected the vote ultimately reported to the CEE.

NOTE: At every casilla that our delegation observed, there was at least one representative from the PRI and one from Aianza por Chiapas. Almost every casilla had a representative from the Partido Democracia Social.

NOTE: Although police did not enter the casilla's, we did notice patrols of police accompanied by men in plain clothes in most communities and would encounter them between communties as was the case of two trucks of police and men in plain clothes we encountered at the Sabanilla/Tila cruzero.

PRE-ELECTORAL OBSERVATION, August 18 and August 19,2000

ACTEAL/POLHO, Friday, August 18, 2000:

At the immigration and military checkpoint at Chenalhó we were stopped and asked for all of our credentials. Within minutes, two of the officials got into a vehicle drove off at seemingly high speeds in the same direction as we were headed. Just minutes up the road, at Las Limas, a checkpoint had been erected with a sign specifying the nature of the checkpoint that was set up on an easel like stand and orange cones were set around it. When we asked the soldier who stopped us at this point, whether this was a permanent checkpoint, he assured us that it was "always there". Approximately two hours later as we returned down the same road, the checkpoint was gone. As it was two days before Election Day, we also took the opportunity to ask one of the officials if he knew when the network of military checkpoints would be removed prior to the election. The official responded that they had not been told yet when or if they would be removed for the elections.

We learned from Alianza Cívica that despite appeals that a casilla be erected at the entrance of that community, the CEE turned down that request despite the fact that its federal counterpart, the IFE, did in fact allow for that in the July 2 elections. The residents we interviewed in Acteál confirmed that the casilla would be at Acteál Altos, (Canolal) about 1 kilometer up the road to Pantelhó, which is a PRIista/paramilitary area. The man we interviewed said it is a very dangerous area, but they were planning to vote regardless of the risk and would do so with observer accompaniment. Acteal was the site of the massacre of 45 of its residents, mostly women and children in December of 1997.

Vote count according to the CEE:
Canolal: #386
Basica:
Alianza por Chiapas: 72
PRI: 149
PSN: 0
Annulled: 4
Contigua:
Alianza por Chiapas: 59
PRI: 140
PSN: 0
Annulled: 1

Majamut 388
Basica:
Alianza por Chiapas: 47
PRI: 210
PSN: 0
Annulled: 0

Extraordinaria:
Alianza por Chiapas: 7
PRI: 133
PSN: 0
Annulled: 1

POLHO
Polhó is located just minutes from Acteal and had a population of 400 residents prior to the Acteal massacre. Immediately following the massacre, the population swelled to more than 16,000 who were displaced by paramilitary or who fled in fear of the paramilitary. Approximately 6,000 had returned to their communities or relocated to others by the end of last year but due to renewed paramilitary activity, once again rose to more than 12,000. Because the refugees are not considered permanent residents of Polhó, they are required to vote at a Casilla Especial. These once again were erected near that community for the July 2 elections but for the August 20 elections, were required to travel to Chamula or San Cristóbal in order to vote.

San Cristóbal—We were not present to establish whether or not the refugees from Polhó traveled to this site to vote but made it a point to note the results upon our return election night.

1140 Especial 1(not noted by HLP-CEE WebPages)
Alianza por Chiapas: 493
PRI: 215
PSN: 4
Annulled: 16

1140 Especial 2
Alianza por Chiapas: 453
PRI: 222
PSN: 5
Annulled: 10 (not noted by HLP-CEE WebPages)

Vote count according to the CEE:
Chamula 336
Especial
Alianza por Chiapas: 55
PRI: 324
PSN: 3
Annulled: 22

OCOSINGO, Saturday August 19, 2000:

In Ocosingo, we found that the CEE elected to place the casilla directly adjacent to the police station rather than across the Zocalo courtyard where the IFE placed it on July 2. We first asked the officers at the police station if the casillas were to be placed directly in front of the windows of that police station as had been the case in 1997 when HLP observed elections in Ocosingo, and they said they didn't know. We then went to the offices of the CEE, which had at its doors perhaps 8 police officers. The woman that greeted us confirmed that the casillas would be placed where they were in 1997. The casillas ultimately placed there were #818, basica, contigua and especial and the results according to the CEE were:

Basica:
Alianza Por Chiapas: 128
PRI: 96
PSN: 0
Annulled: 4

Contigua A:
Alianza Por Chiapas: 108
PRI: 109
PSN: 0
Annulled: 6

Contigua B:
Alianza Por Chiapas: 124
PRI: 104
PSN: 2
Annulled: 2

Especial
Alianza Por Chiapas: 357
PRI: 358
PSN: 1
Annulled: 32

Abasolo (#843): The people were expecting that a casilla would be set up in front of the municipal building. A man drove up in a taxi, he appeared intoxicated and called us over to the taxi while we were talking to people at the municipal building and followed us as we walked to the church. He stopped us and asked what we were doing there; when we told him he said "Aquí no se puede estar" ("You cannot be here"). We explained again that what we were doing is nothing more than elections observation and continued on the way to the church. Four of us went to the higher ground where many residents were sitting around the church wall. In an effort to determine if the man in the taxi had the authority to ask us to leave, we asked one of the residents if the man was an official of the community. The man responded that he was not but that he was a schoolteacher. We have found in our previous trips to Chiapas that the paramilitary usually operate all means of transportation in these communities.We asked the same man if the driver of the taxi was also a member of the paramilitary and he nodded his head in the affirmative. Below us, Norma Vega was walking on the road when suddenly the man driving the taxi accelerated narrowly missing Norma as she jumped to get out of the way and took refuge behind our vehicle. We left shortly thereafter.

Vote count as noted by HLP observers and coincides with CEE results as posted on their web pages:

Basica:
Alianza Por Chiapas: 83
PRI: 170
PSN: 1
Annulled: 15 (not noted by HLP-CEE web pages)

Contigua A:
Alianza Por Chiapas: 83
PRI: 167
PSN: 1
Annulled: 16

Contigua B:
Alianza Por Chiapas: 75
PRI: 152
PSN: 0 (not noted by HLP-CEE web pages)
Annulled: 21 (not noted by HLP-CEE web pages)

Cuxulja (#844)

No one was around. The woman we asked about the casilla etc. said everyone was at work including her brother whom she said would be one of those presiding at the casilla. She also said the casilla would be at the school.

Vote count according to the CEE:

Basica:
Alianza por Chiapas: 213
PRI: 45
PSN: 3
Annulled: 8
Extraordinaria:
Alianza por Chiapas: 191
PRI: 64
PSN: 0
Annulled: 4

Sibaca (#836): election materials had arrived for a polling place and were in the Casa Ejidal, which was locked when we got there.

Vote count according to the CEE:

Basica:
Alianza por Chiapas: 126
PRI: 141
PSN: 2
Annulled: 4

Contigua:
Alianza por Chiapas: 127
PRI: 127
PSN: 0
Annulled: 8

Extraordinaria:
Alianza por Chiapas: 40
PRI: 38
PSN: 0
Annulled: 1

ELECTION DAY:

The following voting sites are located in what is considered the Northern Zone. And has been the site of 30 families who were violently displaced by the paramilitary group Paz y Justicia with direct ties to the PRI. The Northern Zone has been plagued by similar actions throughout the region.

CHILON:

Bachajón (#485)--at 8:10, they had a polling place set up at the municipal building, with people in line, but we just drove by and couldn't tell if the people were voting yet.

Vote count as posted and noted by HLP observer team and coincides with results posted to the CEE web page:

Basica:
Alianza Por Chiapas: 106
PRI: 108
PSN: 0
Annulled: 3

Contigua:
Alianza Por Chiapas: 179
PRI: 100
PSN: 1
Annulled: 9

YAJALON

Yajalón central plaza (#1902): 3 Básicas and 1 Especial
8:45--the Especial was still setting up, with a CEE official there directing things
8:55--none of the Básicas had opened
9:10--the first Básicas opened

Only 1 of the 3 Básicas had a regular white plastic curtain; one had taped up black plastic bags, and the other along with the Especial had no curtain.

Especial:
CEE Capacitador Electoral Manuel Guadalupe Díaz Martínez was there for our morning (8:45-10:30) and evening (5:30-5:50) observations. There were three substitutions of electoral officials at this polling place:
Presidente: Flor de María Sánchez Cañas; formerly Segundo Suplente
Secretaria: Alma Graciela Gallegos Gallegos; formerly Primera Escrutadora
Primera Escrutadora: Sofía Concepción Aguilar Molina; formerly Segunda Escrutadora: Denisse Utrilla López

the Especial opened at about 9:30

Good party and NGO representative presence at all three casillas of Alianza por Chiapas and the PRI as well as the Coalicion de Derechos Humanos para las Etnias de Chiapas and Organizacion Nacional de Observadores Electoral del Magisterio (ONOEM)

Vote count according to the CEE:

Basica:
Alianza por Chiapas: 169
PRI: 114
PSN: 1
Annulled: 6

Contigua A:
Alianza por Chiapas: 127
PRI: 120
PSN: 0
Annulled: 4

Contigua B:
Alianza por Chiapas: 154
PRI: 117
PSN: 0
Annulled: 5

Especial:
Alianza por Chiapas: 233
PRI: 202
PSN: 3
Annulled: 4

Yajalón Casa de la Cultura (#1904): Two voting booths had taped up plastic bags, and one had nothing.
Indelible ink was not hard to get off, if wiped off immediately while still wet. It was only slightly visible on delegate, Kathryn Dowling.

Vote count according to the CEE:

Basica:
Alianza por Chiapas: 198
PRI: 85
PSN: 2
Annulled: 10

Contigua A:
Alianza por Chiapas: 197
PRI: 81
PSN: 1
Annulled: 11

Contigua B:
Alianza por Chiapas: 186
PRI: 87
PSN: 2
Annulled: 10

Pulpitillo (#1908): Taller Mecánico, 10:55

The crowd was completely packed around the two officials´ tables and one of the four booths had a curtain made from a polling place sign.

One table was calling out people´s names and the other was accepting cards as the people came up.

This outdoor area was on quite a slope, with a wide wall about 2 feet high surrounding it; the PRI party representative was standing on the wall directly behind the officials´ table that was calling out people´s names, such that he towered over everyone.

On the far side of the other officials´ table, an observer from an NGO was similarly stationed, but since this was quite close to one of the booths, he could see into the booth.

Another NGO observer, a notably large and muscular man, went from one vantagepoint to the other.

In our presence, a CEE Servidor Público called out to the people to make a line, saying the vote is supposed to be secret, but this had no effect. Pulpitillo: 5:10--had already closed and casilla officials were sitting at table, counting votes.

There was an observer from Coalicion de Derechos Humanos para las Etnias de Chiapas present.

Vote count according to the CEE:

Basica:
Alianza por Chiapas: 215
PRI: 67
PSN: 1
Annulled: 7

Contigua:
Alianza por Chiapas: 173
PRI: 70
PSN: 0
Annulled: 4

San Antonio Texas (#1909): Extraordinaria, 12:15 pm

No curtains, but well away from the people, such that the back side was completely private.

Two women seemed to be turned away for not being on the list.

PRI and Alianza por Chiapas observers were present.

Vote count according to the CEE:

Extraordinaria
Alianza por Chiapas: 64
PRI: 76
PSN: 0
Annulled: 4

Esperanza Setzer (#1911):
This was the only place we saw observers from Alianza Cívica who said everything was OK. The observers said that one person tried to vote twice.

Vote count according to the CEE:

Basica:
Alianza por Chiapas: 64
PRI: 91
PSN: 0
Annulled: 8

Contigua:
Alianza por Chiapas: 71
PRI: 87
PSN: 0
Annulled: 9

El Ocotal (#1912): 2:00

Polling place identifying banners had been taped up to use as curtains. Many people had voted: the ballot box was 1/2-2/3 full and no more people were voting; however they were waiting and remained open.

Alianza por Chiapas and PRI representatives were present

Vote count according to the CEE:

Basica:
Alianza por Chiapas: 55
PRI: 93
PSN: 0
Annulled: 15

Contigua:
Alianza por Chiapas: 79
PRI: 79
PSN: 2
Annulled: 11

Petalcingo (#1484): municipal building, 3:30 pm

Segundo Escrutador specifically came up to report that people had been leaving small PRI logo cards around & in the booths & they had had to clear them out

There was an Alianza por Chiapas representative present.

Vote count according to the CEE:

Basica:
Alianza por Chiapas: 253
PRI: 194
PSN: 1
Annulled: 12

Contigua A:
Alianza por Chiapas: 182
PRI: 169
PSN: 0
Annulled: 8

Contigua B:
Alianza por Chiapas: 147
PRI: 194
PSN: 1
Annulled: 18

Petalcingo (#1483): school behind the church, 3:50 pm

Walking toward the church, we were met by the representative of Alianza por Chiapas, who complained that he was not allowed to vote at this casilla.

Small laminated PRI logo cards had been given to people by the Progreso staff and were being taken by some of those people to vote and then left in the voting booths.

The municipal police had been patrolling all day, unarmed, accompanied by men dressed in plain clothes.

Vote count according to the CEE:

Basica:

Alianza por Chiapas: 135
PRI: 184
PSN: 0
Annulled: 11

Contigua:
Alianza por Chiapas: 128
PRI: 150
PSN: 0
Annulled: 10

Tila (#1464): quick tour around 4:30 pm

Two casillas were at the Casino del Pueblo, in a building with a plaza in front of it.

Vote count according to the CEE:

Basica:
Alianza por Chiapas: 186
PRI: 67
PSN: 1
Annulled: 19

Contigua:
Alianza por Chiapas: 157
PRI: 98
PSN: 0
Annulled: 10

Tila (#1466):

Across from this same street was another building with a wide walkway in front of it, at which were located two more polls

Parked on the street in plain view of both polling places was a white pick-up labeled "Consejo Municipal de Seguridad Pública"

The Casino Del Pueblo had a side raised entry, at just above street level, that looked onto the same street

On it were three men that were glaring at us, and as we walked back towards the Casino, they called to someone, then a municipal policeman (in a black uniform) came out, walking through the men and around to the front of the Casino, going into the front entrance right between the two polling places

Both sets of officials at the polling places were adamant that they had had no problems at all

Alianza por Chiapas office: the President refused to answer our question about how things were going and was clearly very, very stressed, almost to the point of tears; after several minutes of talking to him about our purpose, he finally told us there had been an incident in Miguel Alemán of a reporter being assaulted and his equipment robbed, at which point the observers left, fearing for their safety

Vote count according to the CEE:

Tila (#1466):

Basica:
Alianza por Chiapas: 144
PRI: 71
PSN: 1
Annulled: 6

Contigua:
Alianza por Chiapas: 145
PRI: 54
PSN: 2
Annulled: 12

Miguel Alemán #1475 E1A
Alianza por Chiapas: 21
PRI: 376
PSN: 0
Annulled: 8

Somewhere between Chilón and Bachajón

6:25--passed some people with casilla materials waiting on the side of the road, apparently to be picked up.

Abasolo (#843): This was the community we had visited the previous day. We returned by 6PM on Election Day hoping to be there for the count but when we arrived the count was already posted. The casilla was located where we had been told it would be by residents the day before.

Vote count as noted by HLP observers and posted to the CEE website:

Basica:
Alianza Por Chiapas: 83
PRI: 170
PSN: 1
Annulled: 15 (not noted by HLP-CEE web page)

Contigua A:
Alianza Por Chiapas: 83
PRI: 167
PSN: 1
Annulled: 16

Contigua B:
Alianza Por Chiapas: 75
PRI: 152
PSN: 0 (not noted by HLP-CEE web page)
Annulled: 21 (not noted by HLP-CEE web page)

Comments from HLP delegation:

"The population of Chiapas is characterized by a large number of people for whom Spanish is, at best, a second language. In addition, high rates of illiteracy typify the region, particularly among the indigenous groups and most especially among women. Given this, it is critical that the CEE make an early and concerted effort to meet the special needs of the eligible voters of Chiapas. Voting education campaigns in the different indigenous languages, timed in advance of the elections, are critical. Sample ballots should figure prominently in such campaigns, as should demonstrations on howto mark one's vote, plus explanations of how errors can invalidate a ballot. Small isolated villages without access to the mass media must be educated in culturally appropriate ways, with careful attention paid to maintaining non-partisanship. Without these measures, such populations will continue to be subject to manipulation by interested parties, or even exclusion from the vote, due to their own lack of experience with the process." Kathryn Dowling

"The massive turnout of election observers was impressive. Unfortunately it was necessary. It appears that the remoteness of many polling places, which favors intimidation, will continue to make a large presence of observers necessary in future elections." Patrick Bonner

"Since Democracy in Mexico is barely coming to fruition, the guarantee of adequate electoral guarantees to a secret ballot must be guaranteed at all cost. While the election in Chiapas overall appeared to bring the people's choice to office, a significant amount of Chiapaneco voters did not vote freely. If everyone does not vote freely then full political and economic development will never fully develop." Gabriel Buelna

"On the one hand. the mere fact that it takes the presence of several hundred observers to lessen the violence and electoral abuses, dramatically demonstrates how far conditions are from the realization of clean, free and fair elections. On the other hand, The fact that observers are even permitted and more importantly that Mexicans have demanded a cleaner more democratic process since the days when elections were won with morethan 100% of the vote, demonstrates how far they've come." Lydia Brazon

"I visited Polho shortly after the Acteal massacre in December of 1997. Polho had just become a refugee camp for thousands fleeing their communities after that atrocity. I was appalled to learn that the people from Acteal, Las Abejas had to go vote in a nearby paramilitary community because their only other option was to vote in a casilla that was even farther and was located in a military base! " Norma Vega

Humanitarian Law Project
8124 West Third Street, Ste. 105
Los Angeles, Ca 90048
Ph: 323-653-0726
e-mail: hlp@igc.org

Spanish version (Word doc, 99Kb)