Mexico: PRI supporters go on “panic-stricken” shopping spree
Thumbs-up for a fair election?
Mexican citizens who allegedly received supermarket gift cards from the Institutional Revolutionary Party [PRI] in exchange for their vote, are going on a “panic-stricken” shopping spree, La Jornada reports.
According to the Mexican newspaper, some card holders are afraid that credit on their cards might be confiscated by officials investigating allegations of vote-buying. Others fear that the credit on the cards might be cancelled because the PRI politician who distributed them may not end up winning local elections in the municipality of Nezahualcoyotl.
Last week, the leftist PRD party accused the PRI of distributing 1.8 million of these cards in Mexico State. The cards, which can be used at the Soriana supermarket chain, carry the logo of the CTM, a union affiliated with the PRI.
Last week a PRD spokesman showed journalists gift cards that the PRI allegedly distributed in exchange for votes.
La Jornada reports that at first, the party was offering cards with 100 pesos, ($7) worth of credit, but as election day approached, the amount on cards offered was raised to 300, 500, and even 700 pesos.
Rocio Ugalde told La Jornada that even on election day (Sunday), PRI operatives were distributing these cards. She explained how the process worked: you go into the box, vote, take a picture of that ballot that you voted in favor of the PRI candidate, showed the photo to a PRI representative, and you received a gift card. Not all the cards that were handed out had full value; as people lined up to check the balance of their card, many had already been reported out of funds.
In this video shoppers admit they received supermarket cards from the PRI.
Vote-buying has been a big concern throughout the Mexican elections and leftist Presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has said that he will not concede defeat to the PRI’s Enrique Peña Nieto, until irregularities like the handing out of supermarket cards are investigated.
“Technically, parties are allowed to give away anything they want, as long as they report the expense, don’t exceed spending limits and don’t make people feel the gift is payment for their vote,” the Associated Press reports.
Ricardo Becerra, an official with the Mexican Attorney Generals’ election fraud unit told the AP that “in a country so poor, with so much inequality, there are undoubtedly forces that will try to take advantage of that.”
Since campaigning began in March, the election fraud unit of Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office has opened investigations into 585 alleged electoral crimes. They have arrested 380 people and convicted 58, the AP reported.
Photo: Flickr, Angelica Rivera