May 12, 2012 Update: Paying prominent Mexican journalists millions in pesos to air positive reports and opinions is the latest accusation being slapped on Enrique Peña Nieto (PRI) aka “EPN”.
Gone are the days when candidates created an immaculate image by suppressing negative opinion. Internet access & social media are election game changers.
According to headlines, even in American media, Enrique Peña Nieto (PRI) is the winner of Mexico’s presidential election in July. Not so fast, said a group of university students. The candidate had a scheduled appearance at a prestigious university in Mexico City and he excitedly checked into the campaign stop via Foursquare on Twitter this morning. Before any main stream media could report on the happenings, the presumptive president was a Twitter “trending topic” … for all the wrong reasons. Video clips of Peña Nieto’s morning campaign stop were also posted on ”Youtube”. Students greet the candidate with chants for him to leave. Some people in the crowd call him disgusting and an assassin, just to paraphrase a few of the choice phrases. The unruliness, interruptions and tweets continue during the event inside the auditorium.
The chants of disgust at politics unsual have been growing in Mexico. While recent accusations of a fraudulent increase in some of the candidates’ social media networks didn’t seem to come as a shock (similar accusations were leveled against former Speaker of the House, Newt Gringrich), the last election straw may have been drawn at last week’s televised presidential debate. The buzz was so loud, on the micro blog Twitter, I had to tune in to the replay to see what it was all about. I never expected to see a Playboy model busting out of a white dress parading in front of Josefina Vásquez Mota (PAN) Mexico’s first female presidential candidate in history. I was so taken aback, I had to share one of the photos I took of the provocateur with my network of social media friends the next morning. The issues didn’t make headlines the next day … it was all about what I nicknamed, “Cleavagegate”.
To his credit, the candidate posted a response to the university protest on Twitter saying in Spanish that, “…dialogue and debate were exercises that made democracy richer,” adding that he was “grateful” to the students.
Peña Nieto was gracious, but that was not the case with the head of his political party. In an interview, the head of the PRI Party called for university officials to launch an investigation into the students’ disrespectful behavior towards an invited guest.
Students drowned out the message the candidate went to deliver, instead delivering one of their own. This phenomenon is not unique to Mexico, in fact, this same message has been reverberating on social media, sent out by hundreds of thousands of people all over the world, who feel ignored, disenfranchised and voiceless.
It sounds different in every region, tongue and tweet, but no matter where the echoes are coming from: Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Syria, Russia or Mexico, the message is the same … it reminds me of a line made famous in the movie appropriately titled, ‘Network’, “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore!”