'Yo Soy 132"² Mexico Student Movement at Crossroads

The World

Founders of the "Yo Soy 132" movement meet in a room at Mexico City’s Iberoamerican University on election night. (Photo: Myles Estey)

The "Yo Soy 132" movement's original goal was to oppose Enrique Peña Nieto as the PRI candidate and denounce the media's alleged bias in his favor. Now it has to figure out what to do next. Late Sunday, when the official preliminary results came out and Peña Nieto's victory began to look certain, some of the movement's founders were gathered in a room at Mexico City's Iberoamerican University. Disappointment quickly turned to discussion. The students debated until 4 a.m. They finally decided to attend a large protest march the next day, to say they do not support Peña Nieto. They also decided they will not contest the election results. Instead they will submit some of the election irregularities they've documented to officials. Sandra Patargo has a list of irregularities. She said 3,000 people associated with "Yo Soy 132" worked as observers on Election Day, and they have been feeding this information to her from around the country. "People in Tierra Caliente, Guerrero, were threatened by La Familia Michoacana, which is a drug cartel," Patargo said. "A lot of people were beaten, people were buying votes, and this is very common in Mexico." The students recognize taking the movement past the elections won't be easy. The original protest was based at the Iberoamerican University. But it has since expanded to campuses all over Mexico. A wider membership could complicate decision-making about what the goals should be now. But law student Leon Castante said there are a lot of core issues to keep the movement going, even if the students did not succeed in preventing the PRI's return to power. "We have a lot of agenda that will not be resolved with the election," Castante said. "Having a country that is so relevant to the economic map, and being so backwards in media, and so backwards in freedom of speech, its not acceptable, and we will just not step down, at least not for freedom of speech, freedom of media and civil rights in general." Castante said he also thinks the movement has changed the political atmosphere of Mexico, no matter who won the presidency. "People have been sleeping for 35 years. I think that's what has been most exciting, is seeing people not usually politically active come and say to us 'what you're doing is right'," he said. "I think we've changed the playing ground of Mexican politics." Back on election night, student Ignacio Martinez's face fell as the results began to show a PRI victory was inevitable. But even then, he was confident that there is a path forward. He said it is just what the path looks like that needs deciding. "I don't know how it is going to look like in a couple of months, a couple of year," Martinez said. "But what I know is that [the movement] will not cease to protest, and will not cease to make projects, that make sure to wake up the consciousness of people, and to make it clear that the PRI is a party that will damage our country." Whether that means the "Yo Soy 132" movement continues as a watchdog, a more formal opposition group or something different remains to be seen. For now the students are staying focused on election results — and demanding a more transparent count.