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THE MEXICAN ELECTIONS; A Theater of the Absurd Before Electoral Reform
[Home Edition]
Los Angeles Times - Los Angeles, Calif.
Subjects: Presidential elections; History; Elections -- Mexico; Political power
Author: Meisler, Stanley
Date: Jul 2, 2000
Start Page: 1
Section: Opinion; PART- M; Opinion Desk
Abstract (Document Summary)

Once the shock wore off, it only took a few moments reflection to deduce what had happened. [Fausto Zapata] had obviously staged a Mexican theater of the absurd to influence the presidential succession. Pundits looked on Secretary of the Interior Mario Moya Palencia and Fausto's boss, Secretary of the Presidency Hugo Cervantes [del Rio], as the two leading candidates for selection by [Luis Echeverria]. Many private businessmen and six state governors had already told Echeverria that they preferred Moya Palencia. The problems of Diederich and myself afforded Fausto an opportunity to call the Big Finger's attention to the embarrassing clumsiness of Moya Palencia and his ministry in dealing with U.S. journalists.

My adventure began in early 1975, when I wrote an article about the Child Heroes of Chapultapec. According to Mexican legend, these six cadets died defending Mexico City from the onslaught of Gen. Winfield Scott and his U.S. soldiers during the U.S.-Mexican War of 1845-47. When they realized their defense was futile, one wounded cadet wrapped himself in a Mexican flag and leaped from the top of Chapultapec Hill to his death below.

After three weeks of frustrating inaction, Fausto called. "I think I have solved your problem," he said. "Come to my office as soon as possible." I rushed to Los Pinos (the Mexican White House) and found Fausto with another journalist, Bernard Diederich of Time magazine. Diederich had complained that two men in an unmarked car seemed to be following him. He thought they might be plainclothes police of the Interior Ministry.

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