Buy groceries. Vote for us!In our second segment in the series Everything We Always Wanted To Know About Mexico But Now That We Know Can We Unknow It?, we bring you the latest fashions in election vote-fixing, brought to you by president-elect Enrique Peña Nieto’s party, the oddly-named Institutional Revolutionary Party or PRI. (How do you institutionalize revolution, anyway?) Some of the things the PRI did institutionalize over the 70 years they were in power was guaranteeing their own reelection and turning a blind eye to the drug cartels because “job creators.” However, the new handsome, youthful face of the party, Enrique Peña Nieto, PROMISED that his party had CHANGED and he would NEVER go back to the old ways.

But he needed to win the election, ya know? So, just a few little cheaty things here and there wouldn’t be noticed, right? It was all for the greater good.

On Monday and Tuesday, just after Sunday’s election, an embarrassing Popocatépetl-sized kerfuffle erupted. Thousands of Mexicans crowded into Soriana grocery stores to cash in gift cards that were given to them in exchange for voting for PRI candidates, including Peña Nieto. People who didn’t have gift cards (the stupid ones) couldn’t get into the stores to do their post-weekend shopping. And the people that did have cards were extremely unhappy. It seems that they were told that the gift cards were worth 500 Pesos ($37.50), but they discovered at the store that they were only worth 100 Pesos ($7.50). We know this because los indignados were all interviewed outside the stores by journalists from media outlets not affiliated with Peña Nieto (meaning, non-Mexican media outlets).

Maria Salazar, a 20-year-old university student, came with her 70-year-old father, Antonio Salazar, to cash three gift cards.

“They gave us the cards in the name of the PRI and Rep. Hector Pedroza (a PRI congressional candidate), and they said they were counting on our vote,” Maria Salazar said outside the store, as she carried plastic shopping bags packed with toilet paper, cooking oil, rice, saltine crackers and instant noodle soups.

Her father carried another two packed grocery bags and her 8-year-old nephew carried another.
“They told us they were worth 500 pesos ($37.50), but when we got to the checkout, they were only worth 100 rotten pesos, ($7.50)” Salazar said.

Both she and her father said they had been told to turn in a photocopy of their voter ID card in order to get the gift cards.

Another woman interviewed outside the same Soriana grocery store also complained her card had only 100 pesos ($7.50) in credit.

“For helping them with votes and all … they gave us a card for supporting them, and all that for 100 pesos,” said the woman, who gave only her first name, Josefina, for fear of reprisals. She said she got the card for supporting Pena Nieto, but complained that “100 pesos lasts you about five minutes.”

The PRI denies they did anything of the sort and Peña Nieto says he is 235.47% sure (the percentage of people who voted in the state of Mexico’s Cuautitlan precinct, where there were 420 registered voters and a total of 989 votes and Peña Nieto won 801 of them) that his party TOTALLY didn’t buy votes like that. Totally.

Soriana denies that they had any involvement in a vote-buying scheme, but the governing PAN party says that one company bought 9,500 prepaid gift cards worth $5.2 million (71 million pesos). The investigation of the Soriana gift cards continues, according to the Mexican Electoral Institute.

But what about the children and the vagrants? Well, according to Mexican organization Civic Alliance, the PRI used children to accompany voters into polling booths to check how they mark their ballots. The group issued a report saying 28% of those interviewed by its 500 observers across the country had been exposed to some form of vote-buying or coercion. And people in Puebla state (who had already voted in their precincts) were bused to voting precincts in Veracruz to take advantage of extra ballots allotted for vagrant voters.

It looks like the “creative” PRI election strategy is working, unless Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s call for a full recount comes up with enough evidence to re-do the vote. We won’t hold our morning coffee breath. But don’t have a sad yet, Wonketteers, YoSoy#132, along with Andrés Manuel López Obrador and other organizations are frantically calling for photo or video proof of voting irregularities at the FotoXCasilla (casilla is a voting precinct) website, where so far they have received more than 40,000 uploads, which they plan to submit the the Mexican voting authority. We wish them the BEST of luck. Totally.

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  • chascates

    The old PRI assigned territories to the narcos so there wasn't bloodshed. The unbridled capitalism the PRI's defeat brought doesn't work in Mexico. At least not so far as collateral damage goes.

    • Now I hear that even if the PRI wanted to go back to that system, there are too many younger and autonomous splinter groups that have emerged in order for it to work again.

      • Negropolis

        And PAN completely bungled the handling of the cartels, and didn't derserve another six years.

        Do a post on PAN, Lisa. Where was everyone during the reign of Vicente & Co. for the last twelve years while the drug war was going to hell in a heavily-weighted handbasket?

        • I will do some research, Negropolis. I've been having fascinating conversations with my students. Not sure how the cartel situation can be solved. Mexico has always had corruption at every level, from cops on the street to presidents. Money is at the root of it all – maybe starving the cartels of money would work. Dunno:

  • littlebigdaddy

    Ay caramba!

  • $7.50 a vote!?

    Mitt Romney por Presidente!

    • That's how much YOU will get back from Mitt Romney's new tax cut.

      • It's OK, because Teh Riches will get Elebenty Billion. That will make me, and the rest of my fellow serfs, very happy.

    • RevJuanMessycan

      The promised rewards went up in the last two days od the campaign. At first it was just a torta (sandwich) worth about MXN$ 20.

    • Gurkman

      it is actually legal in Mexico to buy votes as long as you don't exceed campaign finance regulations and don't coerce people. It's a great system, I'd love it if the GOP and Dems fought over who could give out the most cornmeal…

  • BigSkullF*ckingDog

    I voted for Obama and all I got was this crappy healthcare!

  • shortsandpants

    You see, it isn't buying votes because the checks are all bad.

  • Jus_Wonderin

    But, if you act now, you can get 2 votes for 19.99. Operators are standing by.

    • rickmaci

      But wait, there's more….

  • MOG2410

    Yikes, cheap-ass MFs. I expect at least the full $37.50 for my vote!

  • Baconzgood

    Looks like Mexico is ahead of the curve.

  • not that Radio

    Popocatépetl-sized kerfuffle

    Try saying that 10 times, fast.

  • OneYieldRegular

    Grocery store gift card bribes? Pathetic. It's high time Mexican political corruption grew up and started demonstrating some maturity, like by using rigged electronic voting machines, imaginative redistricting, legislated vote suppression, and a politicized Supreme Court.

    • anniegetyerfun

      They should start by removing anyone with a Spanish-sounding name from the voter rolls, like Rick Scott is doing in Florida.

  • carolinaswamp

    We can help! We have all those Republican state legislators who are so VERY concerned about voter fraud. We can send them to Mexico!! They can make everyone get photo i.d.'s and prove their citizenship and stop having voter registration drives. Mexico will become an island of electoral integrity. I have some nominees from the General Assembly here in SC. Mexico can contact me any time for names and phone numbers.

  • prommie

    It would be easier to masturbate to this story if it were illustrated with pictures of Salma Hayek.

  • fartknocker

    Mitt should consider this as part of Amercia campaign. Sign up for his app, and receive a $25 Walmart gift card for all Koch Brothers products. Win, win. It's much better than Herman Cain's "vote for me – have a crappy pizza pie" campaign.

    • YasserArraFeck

      Where is Herman these days? I thought he was going to "keep on fighting"*

      *Failed-Republican-Candidate-Speak for "figure out how to cash in on the publicity, now that the campaign contributions have dried up"

      • Jadetiger79

        He has his own teevee channel now…CainTV. It's just as nightmarish as you might think.

      • SorosBot

        Right here!

        Thanks to MissTaken for directing me there; it's hilariously insane.

  • BaldarTFlagass

    Maybe they should have bribed the voters with drugs instead.

  • anniegetyerfun

    Hey, you know the old saying: if you can't televise the revolution, at least institutionalize it.

  • rickmaci

    A $7.50 gift card sounds better than having to watch endless hours of crappy Citizens Untied/Superpac ads on TV and getting nada for it.

  • Not_So_Much

    "Coercion" seems a little strong. I mean, just because they send an orphan into the booth with a voter to remind them that their Sunday shirt looks funny with no head, that's just being helpful.

  • BaldarTFlagass

    Man, that guy in the picture must be hydrocephalic. It's like the poster for that old Zardoz movie.

    • prommie

      That is one great movie to watch on bath salts, or jenkem, in a pinch.

      • A pinch, a screw, either one will do.

        Sean Connery in a diaper. I could have gone to my grave without seeing that and died happy.

    • Extemporanus

      I thought it was a poster for the sequel to The 40 Year-Old Virgin.

    • I stuck Pena Nieto's head on the guy and his wife's on the girl. :-)

  • Allmighty_Manos

    The PRI accused of electoral fraud? that sure doesn't sound like the PRI I know.

  • BaldarTFlagass

    Mexico is just like America but without all the complications.

  • Goonemeritus

    There is a novel idea, bribe the poor folk, in America we only get trickle down bribery.

    • BoatOfVelociraptors

      A superPAC innovation! Give the money directly to the people, and cut out the middleman media!

  • Antispandex

    It would never work here in the US of A. Mittens would never do it, because he thinks giving shit away is for suckers.

  • RomanSolo3000

    "Jefe, what is a plethora?"

    • Baconzgood

      Forgive me, El Guapo. I know that I, Jefe, do not have your superior intellect and education. But could it be that once again, you are angry at something else, like the death of democracy, and are looking to take it out on me?

  • edgydrifter

    Como se dice "Diebold" en Espanol? Es mas facil.

    • RevJuanMessycan

      "Muere/atrevido" (Die/bold) – I like it even better than the Inigo Montoya catchphrase!

  • Chick-Fil-Atheist™

    For 100 pesos or $7.50, that's still a bargain. Here, they sell an image of YOU as a rugged individual, and say really awesome things about God… and it usually ends up costing YOU money.

  • Extemporanus
    • not that Radio

      Su peso es su voce.

  • Jus_Wonderin

    7.50? That is two gallons of Chevron Plus!!!

    • RevJuanMessycan

      Here it buys you even less (and keep in mind the 60 peso minimum wage).

  • RevJuanMessycan

    I've been watching this with the usual dread and stoned bemusement I reserve for my Wonkette toilet reading.
    – Local candidates personally rushing to take pix of their opponents' campaign quarters as people emerge with their bribes.
    – Senator and President ballot boxes removed right before the poll place closed by armed men in Nuevo León (a sight, despite the 18 yo's with AK47 working as security guards everywhere)
    – "Unstable" individuals shutting down voting venues (I wonder how much that gig paid, should ask my actor friends)

    Is it any wonder that in the capital of my state, the county payroll is bouncing as we speak? Buying elections is expensive! (Yes, the PRI is in power here.)

    And of course now rumors are coming out that Calderón, upset that his dog wasn't put in the fight, arranged backroom deals with the PRI to undermine the nice lady his party nominated.

    • shortsandpants

      I totally dig what you just said… but I really need to know how the hell you set up a computer in the bathroom, and how I can get one of these Mess-can toilets with internets.

      • It's under File -> Print…

      • Guppy

        What do you think laptops and tablets were invented for?

        Sent from my iPhone, in the bathroom

      • RevJuanMessycan

        What do you mean? Messycan ingenuity: an extension cord and a board over the sink. It gets a little crowded when I have to set up the dial-up modem too, so I mostly surf off-line.

    • Thanks for the inside picture, Rev. Juan. I apologize for making you lose a point by replying to you, despite the upfist.

  • MissTaken

    Glad to hear Karl Rove is keeping himself busy running campaigns in Mexico.

  • Jus_Wonderin

    Public Radio International?

  • Terry

    Wasn't this pretty much what Michele Bachmann was doing during the Iowa caucuses, but with a country music singer performing as well?

    • Yeah, she bribed those dumb shits with tickets to some long-forgotten music act and corn dogs with mayonnaise sandwiches, or something. I remember reading about it and thinking, "Wow, the yokels are *really* dumb out there. No wonder she won the election."

  • Newt Gingrich is proposing that his heavily armed child janitors be used to accompany people into the voting booth and threaten them if they don't vote for Romney.

  • Mitt better be planning to give me a gift card for more than $7.50 in groceries for my vote. I don't think that would buy a chunk of "Cedar Cheese" at Walmart.

    A $1000 for Best Buy might be tempting….

  • Oblios_Cap

    See. This is what happens when you don't let the American's fix your election. It went so much more smoothly when Calderon was "elected".

  • SorosBot

    Bribing voters is still better than the conservative American way of throwing up poll taxes and purging the voter rolls of legal voters in a way designed to prevent people likely to vote liberal (minorities, the poor, college students) from voting.

    • Yeah, at least when you're bribing the fucking voters, you're spreading the wealth a little. Bullying them you can do for free. Nobody benefits except the assholes at the top.

  • Ha! Backward Mexico!!! If you're going to steal an election, do what the big boys do – set up superpacs and be sure rigged electronic voting machines are in all the riight places.

  • gift cards = speech

  • RevJuanMessycan
    A fave: "How does it feel to sell out my future and not even get paid?"

  • barto

    Let's just send the Supremes down there to sort this thing out. No telling what might happen. Good times!

  • prommie

    Is this like "walking around money?" Shit, we used to pay people $50 or $100 each for that. I was the man with the cash one election night. I had to go to all the GOTV headquarters with hundreds of envelopes full of cash. I didn't even know what I was doing, really. Paying the GOTV workers, I think. Thats what it was, right?

  • Guppy

    Why can't they just perform their voting fraud with absentee ballots, like a civilized country?

  • friendlyskies

    Oh, I can't wait for Julian Assange to join team America Latina. This junior league corruption and neocolonialism BS is all fun and games, until you live in the middle of the needless third-world deprivation.

  • GeneralLerong

    Just idly wondering…wondering…how much of a WalMart gift card would buy a Teabagger's vote?

    A coupon for 10% off a box of Ding-Dongs?

    • not that Radio

      If I bring in 10 of those, are the Ding Dongs free?

  • SayItWithWookies

    71 million pesos divided by 9,500 gift cards = 7473.68 pesos per card. So clearly there's voter fraud going on — all those voters who're complaining their gift cards are only worth 100 pesos are stinkin' liars.

    • BoatOfVelociraptors

      Much like Romney, you appear to be hoping that people will forget the management fees.

  • Count on my support in your struggle, my friend. #Solidarity!

  • RevJuanMessycan

    One thing I haven't seen mentioned, really, is that this is not only not new for the PRI, it is one of their very earliest characteristics: bread and circus, except they even screwed people of the circus.
    The Institutional Revolutionary thing refers to the institution that emerged from the 1910- revolution (as in civil war, revolt, not independence as conflated in the States). It arguably has always been an oligarchy trying to lull enough of the country to bleed and run it and run, as many Mexican presidents do, self-exiling to Europe or the US after their term. The social programming that they were able to implement (health care, education, etc.) in their 70 years in power is in part due to the strong labor unions also coming out of the revolution, and in part the metaphorical version of this bread.
    But from decades before my own childhood here (when I got to see it), it was expected that at PRI "mitines" ("meetings", rallies) there would be food, from sandwiches to baskets, handed out.

  • RayneMan

    So, that's the going rate for a person's integrity. $37.50. Well, no wonder they're all pissed off! Integrity is clearly worth more than $7.50!

    On a related note, I don't give a salsa-induced, sphincter-splitting shit if R.Money gives me $375,000, a tax-deductible horse, a car elevator AND his Stepford wife(s)…he's still not getting my vote.

  • RevJuanMessycan

    I don't know how I didn't see it. Maybe they ARE better now: raise your hand if you fapped to his novela star wife? There you have your circus.

  • Robman2


  • radio-of-owls

    You left out the best part: all campaigns are funded by the state! So all told, the poor saps actually lost money by getting their rotten little bribes and paradojicamente, would have lost even more if the Priistas hadn't been such skinflints. jejeje

    Don't do the crime ife you can't do the time.

  • ttommyunger

    Looks like it's Mehico's turn to be lead by a moron in a three thousand dollar suit.

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