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Tzintzun
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Use of Media Spectacle in the Mexican 2012 Presidential Elections

 Currently I am in Mexico, a country poised in the middle of a tumultuous election campaign.  This is no normal election cycle, for it is not only    the candidates that are in the spotlight, but also the media reporting the election.  A student led movement, called #Yo soy 132, has began  their own campaign, protesting the media and their bias reporting in favor of PRI (Revolutionary Institutional Party) candidate Peña Nieto . Before coming to Mexico, I was unaware of the turbulent situation in Mexico, whichis one of my home countries.

318 Peña Nieto

On arriving in Mexico, I came to understand the significance of the elections and the “#Yo soy 132” movement.  In its very essence the students are protesting the power of the media, and their ability to use media spectacles to manipulate the general population.  But first, I will give some background on the general situation in Mexico and how it relates to the topic of art inspiring change.  This series will be in four parts, for there are many sides to this issueand and it could be extended depending on the ongoing developments in Mexico.  I will start with discussing how the media has made the candidate Peña Nieto into a media spectacle.  So here goes some on the ground (underground) reporting.

It has been common knowledge in Mexico that the PRI candidate Peña Nieto was going to win the 2012 elections.  The main television channel in Mexico and most of Latin America, Televisa, has portrayed Peña Nieto as the man to be the next president.  His party, the PRI, had governed Mexico for over seven decades, until ousted from power by the right wing party, the PAN (National Action Party), in 2000.  Since then the PAN has been in power for twelve years.  The current president of Mexico, Felipe Calderon, came into office after a chaotic, and most probably fraudulent, election.  President Calderon initiated a brutal drug war, which has since left 70, 000 casualties and many parts of Mexico under the influence of violent drug cartels.  Because of the unpopularity of the Drug war, Televisa has presented Peña Nieto, as a new face, different then Calderón and other leaders of the PAN, someone who could lead Mexico out of the violence.

Televisa has been predominant factor in shaping the political landscape of Mexico for generations.  Mexican media is mostly controlled of a duopoly of Teve Azteca and Televisa, two of the most powerful media corporations in Latin America. Televisa has been known to use its vast marketing power to tilt the election in favor of specific candidates.  The British newspaper, The Guardian, has recently released documents that shed light on the connection between Peña Nieto and Televisa.  These documents include:

• An outline of fees apparently charged for raising Peña Nieto's national profile when he was governor of the state of Mexico.

• A detailed media strategy explicitly designed to torpedo a previous presidential bid by leftwing candidate Andres Manuel López Obrador, who is currently Peña Nieto's closest rival.

• Payment arrangements suggesting that the office of former president Vicente Fox concealed exorbitant public spending on media promotion.

The Guardian also clearly delineated the amount of money used to discredit Lopez Obrador, since he was governor of Mexico City and and could be seen as the symbol of the Mexican people.  This strategy was designed to “dismantle the public perception that Lopez Obrador is a martyr/savior."  Televisa is currently denying these charges.

With his movie star good looks and his perfectly practiced speeches, Peña Nieto appears to be a star of a Mexican soup opera. He is a spectacle created by the media, who is only meant to resemble a media star who the public shouldn’t question, for as Guy Debord says in his book The Society of Spectacle, "the passive acceptance it (the spectacle) demands is already effectively imposed by its monopoly of appearances, its manner of appearing without allowing any reply.”

 In the next part of this series I will discuss the reaction of the Mexican youth and the creation of the “#Yo soy 132” movement in response to the unfair coverage of the elections and Televisa.  They combat the spectacle that surrounds them with the creation of their own form of media and art.