By PJRC correspondent Alci.
While President Felipe Calderon hosted the G20 summit at the Los Cabos resort in Baja California, Mexico's Yo Soy 132 youth movement again showed its power by holding an interactive third presidential debate, the first real citizen's debate in Mexico's history of presidential elections.
After the two official televised debates were deemed more circus than serious discussion by the movement, which itself formed as a front to confront domestic media manipulation and bias in favor of the PRI party, Yo Soy 132 organized a third round where students could ask candidates questions via internet/Skype connection. No national network agreed to broadcast the debate and so it was streamed completely through the Internet on outlets such as YouTube. Three of the four candidates participated including leftist PRD candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO), ruling PAN party candidate Josefina Vasquez Mota, and quasi-libertarian Gabriel Quadri. PRI candidate Enrique Pena Nieto refused to participate, claiming the event was not guaranteed to be neutral. It was Nieto's smearing of students as AMLO stooges during a visit to the Iberoamericana University that helped inspire the movement itself.
The debate's format was uncharted territory for the candidates who were used to the more planned and controlled atmosphere of the TV debates where the topics were even agreed to before broadcast. Even keeping the signal alive was a challenge as various sites kept losing contact, sparking rumors of possible PRI interference in a nation where only 30% of the population has internet access. During the debate Obrador praised the students for forming a “clean, authentic and critical” movement while Mota stated that the students had “turned on a light.” Topics ranging from human rights to oil production were explored with Mota promoting “private investment” in PEMEX, the nation's domestic oil company, and AMLO standing firm in refusing to privatize the country's energy resources warning that such a move would bring “destruction.” On the issue of the drug war Mota avoided the issue of legalizing drugs, sticking firm to the current status quo and adding that Calderon's 2011 “human rights legislation” would set a standard. AMLO was more direct and stated that unlike the PRI, he would not “import more police officers, I have faith in you, the people.”
With almost two weeks to go before voting time politics is dominating Mexican society. Even the domestic box office is a testament to the mood in the country as the film “Colosio: El Asesinato” (Colosio: The Assassination), a movie about the 1994 murder of PRI candidate Luis Donaldo Colosio in Tijuana and the conspiracy theories swirling around the event, packs cinemas and is a bona fide smash hit. In the electoral arena some candidates are now resorting to unorthodox measures as Mota even calls on Mexican wives to deny their husbands “hanky panky” in order to blackmail them into voting PAN. During the interactive debate a chair was still left in the debating room reserved for PRI candidate Nieto, empty and alone, with Mexico's urban youth awakening, it's not an image the old guard can afford to broadcast for much longer.