Yo Soy 132
|This article is outdated. (February 2013)|
|Yo Soy 132|
|Part of the Mexican general election, 2012, Impact of the Arab Spring|
|Poster stating I am 132 for freedom of speech|
Yo Soy 132 is a Mexican protest movement centered around the democratization of the country and its media. It began as opposition to the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) candidate Enrique Peña Nieto and the Mexican media's allegedly biased coverage of the 2012 general election. The name Yo Soy 132, Spanish for "I Am 132", originated in an expression of solidarity with the protest's initiators.
On May 11, 2012, Peña Nieto held a campaign event at Ibero-American University. Most of the attendees questioned and strongly expressed their opposition to the candidate. Their protest was centered around the 2006 Atenco incident, in which then-governor of the State of Mexico Peña Nieto called in the state police to break up a protest by local residents. Two protesters were killed, and human rights groups have charged the police with numerous rapes during those raids. However, during the news conference, Peña Nieto defended his decision to use force in order to prevent an alleged greater evil. His answer inflamed the students, who started to chant the motto "Atenco is not forgotten".
After the event, prominent media outlets and PRI politicians dismissed the attendees' reaction, saying that they had been "smuggled in" by contending parties, and were not really students. In response, 131 students who had attended the event posted a video on YouTube showing their student IDs and expressing discontent with the media reporting of the event. When people began expressing solidarity with the students by tweeting "I'm the 132nd student", the name "yo soy 132" was coined. The hashtag (sometimes included as #Yosoy132) emphasizes the movement's connection to Twitter, where it was a worldwide trending topic for many days. The phrase draws inspiration from the Occupy movement and the Spanish 15-M movement. The protest movement was self-claimed as the "Mexican spring" (an allusion to the Arab Spring) by its first spokepersons, and as the "Mexican occupy movement" in the international press.
The movement successfully demanded that the second presidential debate be broadcast nationally. It also proposed a third debate organized by members of the Yo Soy 132 movement that was held without the presence of Enrique Peña Nieto, the candidate for the PRI, who rejected the invitation and said it lacked conditions of impartiality.
More recently, the movement has led massive student protests throughout the country. The protests were held in the cities of Mexico City, Guadalajara, Puebla, Mérida, San Cristóbal de las Casas, Hermosillo, Cuernavaca, Tijuana and others, where they claimed an alleged electoral fraud after the Federal Electoral Institute had delivered the preliminary results which pointed to Peña Nieto as President-Elect.
This movement is rooted in a long tradition of civil upheaval that has been challenging the policies of Mexico's elite class. During the 2006 presidential elections, thousands of people took to the streets in protest of alleged electoral fraud.
Former State of Mexico governor Enrique Peña Nieto is allegedly favored by Mexico's only two nationwide TV Networks, Televisa and TV Azteca, with extensive coverage during the year prior to the confirmation of his candidacy. Until early May 2012, polls by these two TV networks showed Peña Nieto with up to a 40% lead in national polls. Peña Nieto has been criticized by those who see the return of the Institutional Revolutionary Party as a regression to Mexico's past of corruption and authoritarianism. The long rule of the PRI was tarnished with accusations of corruption and repression, and the students involved in this movement reject that Peña Nieto represents a new face for the PRI.
La Jornada newspaper, Proceso magazine, journalist Jenaro Villamil and others have claimed that when Peña Nieto served as governor of the State of Mexico, he used public funds to boost his television coverage. Until June 7, 2012, when The Guardian published an article on this claim, the information did not have a large impact. Televisa, PRI and Peña Nieto have denied the accusations.
On May 11, 2012, Peña Nieto visited the Ibero-American University to hold a conference with students, where he was severely questioned. While exiting the conference room, hundreds of students began yelling at him to leave. Some showed signs that expressed complete rejection of his candidacy, and many wore masks of former president Carlos Salinas de Gortari. Until then, Peña Nieto had only met support and cheers from the meetings organized by the PRI party. Security personnel had the candidate hide in a restroom until a route to avoid the protesters could be determined. He finally left the campus with hundreds of students booing him.
Peña Nieto and many of his campaign staffers said this incident was staged by the left-wing parties' candidate, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, and that the participants were not real students or had been paid ("porros", as they are colloquially referred to). This angered many of the Ibero-American University students, prompting 131 of them to publish a video on YouTube in which they identify themselves with their University ID card. The video went viral, and protests spread across various campuses. People showed their support of the 131 students' message by stating, mainly on Twitter, that they were the 132nd student—"I am 132"— thus giving birth to the Yo Soy 132 movement.
The protests then turned mainly against the media duopoly Televisa and TV Azteca and accused them of poor and biased coverage of the protests. While many independent electronic media outlets covered the events, their audience is relatively small, as only 31% of Mexicans have in home Internet access.
On May 19, 2012, mass protests against Televisa and Peña Nieto were held in the country's major cities, led by students from many different colleges. A mass demonstration organized by the ITAM college was held outside Televisa headquarters. The protest included a large Mariachi group who performed Las Golondrinas – a Mexican song used historically to say goodbye.
On May 23, 2012, another protest against Televisa was organized by students from public and private colleges. This led the network to give widespread coverage of protests and to announce that the second presidential debate would broadcast on Televisa's main national TV channel Canal de las Estrellas. TV Azteca likewise responded by announcing the network's intention to broadcast the debate nationally.
On June 10, 2012, another country-wide protest against Peña Nieto was held on the same day as the broadcast of the second presidential debate. The date also commemorates the 1971 Corpus Christi massacre, when student protests were violently oppressed.
The success of the movement in prompting thousands of students to get together has made analysts ask whether the movement will cause trouble for the next government. Nonetheless, the leaders of the student movement said that if Peña Nieto wins the 1 July elections fairly, they will not stage any more protests. The leader said that they will "respect [Mexico's] democracy and its institutions," but if there is evidence of fraud, the protests will continue.
On June 5, 2012, students gathered in the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), the country's largest public university, to discuss common objectives. They agreed that the movement should aspire to go beyond the general election and become a national force.
On May 23, 2012, the movement released its manifesto. An excerpt from it states:
"First – we are a nonpartisan movement of citizens. As such, we do not express support of any candidate or political party, but rather respect the plurality and diversity of this movement's participants. Our wishes and demands are centered on the defense of Mexicans' freedom of expression and their right for information, in that these two elements are essential to forming an aware and participating citizenry. For the same reasons, we support informed and well-thought out voting. We believe that under the present political circumstances, abstaining or making a null vote is ineffective in promoting the edification of our democracy. We are a movement committed to the country's democratization, and as such, we hold that a necessary condition for this goal is the democratization of the media. This commitment derives from the current state of the national press, and from the concentration of the media outlets in few hands".
"Second – YoSoy132 is an inclusive movement which does not represent one single university. Its representation depends only on the persons who join this cause and form connections among the university committees".
"We declare our movement as":
- nonpartisan-understood as having the absence of organic links with any political party-
- peaceful- understood as the absolute rejection to the use or expression of violence as a means to achieve our objectives-,
- student based- understood as the foundation of our movement and a catalyst for social change-,
- secular- understood as having our movement totally unrelated to any faith doctrine and/or religious institution -,
- plural- understood by the inclusion of all individuals in any place of the country who share the principles and boundaries contained herein, recognizing the bonds of shared solidarity and unity in the struggle along with other movements without recognizing the movement as a substitute-,
- of social character- understanding this as the guideline to vindicate our society as the main beneficiary of the actions taken by the movement-,
- political in nature- because the movement is interested in all public affairs and aims to create spaces that will enable more active citizen participation without limiting this responsibility to the existing so-called political class that claims to be the only interpreter of the country’s political affairs-,
- of a humanistic character-understanding this as the search for ways to reassess and develop to the fullest the potential of all people, not only those focused towards the massive consumption of consumer goods, therefore promoting the ethical nature of humankind-,
- autonomous- because it recognizes and values the organization and internal decisions within each university as their free and democratic expressions-,
- committed and responsible- understanding the unique courage of building something for our country and recognizing the consequences of our conviction assumed in a shared way among its members-,
- democratic – understanding this as the attempt of creation and decision making in a community context, starting with an equitable and symmetrical dialogue in the access of information, advocating for a participatory democracy that goes beyond the representative model we now have, and aiming towards the improvement of our country's culture.
Debates between candidates
On June 1, 2012, members of the Yo Soy 132 movement demanded from the Federal Electoral Institute (IFE) that the second debate between the four candidates be broadcast nationally, and that a third debate be scheduled for June 22, 2012. The proposed third debate is meant to cover a broader scope of issues. While the IFE has declined both requests, Mexico's two national television networks have announced that they will broadcast the second debate. On June 7, 2012, the three candidates besides Peña Nieto agreed to participate in a debate organized by the movement. Peña Nieto, the main target of the Yo Soy 132 movement, declined the invitation because he said that the movement had "adopted a political position against [him] and [his] policies," therefore not guaranteeing a neutral debate. In a letter written to the leaders of the movement, the candidate thanked the organizers for the invitation and lamented the fact that the movement had made the decision to come out against him.
The topics of the debate ranged from indigenous peoples' rights to the future of Pemex and the country's media. The debate experienced some technical problems on YouTube, but it was also aired in several other websites and in a couple of radio stations.
On June 11, 2012, a group of protesters who named themselves GeneraciónMX claimed they were part of Yo Soy 132 and announced their departure, claiming that they perceived that the movement favored the leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution and its candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador. The leaders of the movement, however, stated that they are nonpartisan, although López Obrador has championed their cause and El Universal published a photo of his son with a T-shirt of Yo Soy 132. Moreover, the protestors of GeneraciónMX stated that the leftist participants of Yo Soy 132 treated the movement as their own, and that the assembly meeting lasted for over eight hours but did not lead to any plans. One member of GeneraciónMX stated: "we complain about the damned politicians but we are just like them. We look like the Chamber of Deputies." Through a YouTube video titled I am no longer 132, the new movement expressed its intent to remain nonpartisan. Its stated goals are democratization of the media, political reform, environmental protection, and calling politicians' attention to the agenda of Mexican youth. Social network users and hacktivist group Anonymous have argued that GeneraciónMX and its members are linked to the PRI.
On June 12, 2012, Rodrigo Ocampo, spokesperson of GenerationMX, reiterated in a press conference that they believed #yosoy132 had lost its course and had been hijacked by leftist parties. He denied any ties with the PRI party and his current employer COPARMEX, claiming his involvement was done on his free time. He also declared that GenerationMX had about 17 members, many of whom had received anonymous threats demanding them to take their YouTube videos off-line. Also declared that other members decided not to come forward or comment on the allegations of leftist involvement for fear of further threats.
On June 12, 2012, Mexican members of Yo Soy 132 who live abroad said that they received email threats to revoke their passports, from a person who identified as a member of GeneraciónMX. The threats included personal information about the emigrants, and alleged that they had abandoned their country, and so their country should abandon them.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Yo Soy 132 protests|
- Yo Soy 132 official website (in Spanish)
- Yo Soy 132 international website (in Spanish)
- 131 students original video on YouTube