The "Yo soy 132" or "I am 132" chants are rocking the Mexican political system during this 2012 Presidential campaign. As reported by Occupy Wall Street's website, thousands of student protesters are pouring into the streets of Mexico City to push back against their country's political corruption. The powerful Mexican elites are set on crowning their favored candidate as the next President: Enrique Peña Nieto of the PRI party. The Yo Soy 132 movement has risen to challenge Peña Nieto and what he represents. To be clear, similar to the Occupy Wall Street movement, the Yo Soy 132 movement is not a movement that endorses any particular one candidate that is currently running for President. It is primarily a movement that is challenging the system currently dominated by corporate greed that undermines democracy in Mexico. Specifically, it is pushing back against that country's oligarchs' manipulation of media to favor Peña Nieto, thereby setting the ground to, potentially once again, ram down people's throats a political candidate chosen by corporate interests.
It is nevertheless clear that the movement is an extension of a long tradition of civil upheaval that has been defying the Mexican elites' policies of repression. During the last Presidential elections in Mexico of 2006, hundreds of thousands took to the streets in protest of election fraud. Back then, those protests got a media blackout in the U.S. and did not translate into social media frenzies as it did with Iran's Green Revolution election fraud protests of 2009. This time it seems to be different, as the Yo Soy 132 movement is spreading quickly through social medial channels. Just as with their counterparts in the Green Revolution, Arab Spring, Spanish Indignados, and Occupy Wall Street movements, the Yo Soy 132 movement has kindred ties that go back decades to older traditions of populist reformations. In this instance, the Yo Soy 132 has some hints that harken back to the 1968's Tlatelolco Square student protests. Back then, the PRI President ordered 200 tanks and 5,000 soldiers that opened fire onto a crowd of nearly 10,000 protestors.
So what does this all have to do with immigration? For starters, people should know that the same elites that are trying to crown Peña Nieto as the next President are the same crowds that pushed for deregulations and NAFTA economic policies in Mexico. While NAFTA has benefited the wealthy elite in Mexico, it has meant the opposite for the average working person. As The Nation magazine points out, economic policies like NAFTA have fueled massive waves of migration from displaced Mexican farmers into the U.S. Yet, during the heavily scripted first Mexican Presidential debate [video here] there was not a single question posed about immigration.
Elections matter and what candidate ends up in the Presidency of Mexico will have the power to push for policies that can have widespread ramifications not only in Mexico but in the U.S. It is often said that election fraud can be cut short when there is massive voter turnout because the people simply overwhelm the system. For this reason, it is critical that the people in Mexico, Mexicans living abroad, and those that support their cause become more engaged. While we in the U.S. may not be able to participate physically, we can nevertheless participate through online revolutions like the #YoSoy132 #IAm132 movement that continue to democratize the spread of information. For more information on the #YoSoy132 movement visit: www.yosoy132.mx
Refugio Mata is a Public Relations specialist and founder of Project Economic Refugee. He graduated from CSU Northridge and has been an online organizer for immigrant rights, economic and environmental justice issues.