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Mexico: #YoSoy132, the Beginning of the Mexican Spring?

On Friday, May 11, the presidential candidate of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) Enrique Peña Nieto, attended an open forum with students from the Iberoamericana University. The meeting was marked with protests from the students who rebuked the candidate in several occasions.

A month had passed on that Friday since the official political campaigns for Mexico's Presidency took off. Such election, up until then, didn't generate any interest among the electorate, mainly because people perceived the top candidate was invincible.

For many, the media coverage of the candidate's visit was biased, like the Mexican Editorial Organization that chose as a headline for its next day edition: “Success for Peña at the Ibero in spite of planned boycott intent” [es]. This coverage, along with the students’ protests, became an explosive mixture that first found an outlet in social media and now has taken its energy to the streets of the main Mexican cities.

Furthermore, some politicians qualified the students as “porros” (slang for members of fascist organizations who use violence as a method to express their views) or thugs, to which the Ibero students responded with a video entitled “131 Ibero students answer back” [es] where they show their Iberoamericana University student ID's.

Right away, political analyst Denise Dresser (@DeniseDresserG) [es] published on her Twitter account:

RT 131 Alumnos de la Ibero pero somos mas los que sentimos igual,SUMATE #somosmasde131yo soy el 132.Y tú,te sumas?

RT 131 Ibero students but there are more of us who feel the same, JOIN #somosmasde131 (we are more than 131) I am the 132. So, are you in?

The tweet started a chain of tweet reactions among throngs of youngsters that called themselves “the 132″. A web page was also set up to inform about the movement and its activities: http://yosoy132.mx/ [es].

University students protest on May 23 against media manipulation. Photo by Hector Aiza Ramirez, under Demotix copyright.

Last Saturday May 19, young people from several education institutions called for a protest that started at the heart of Mexico City – the Zocalo – and marched to the emblematic Independence Angel with the objective to inform all Mexicans and the world about the media bias seen at this election.

On Wednesday May 23, young students organized another protest, this time starting at the Light Stele and marching towards Televisa (TV Station) Headquarters to demand an impartial coverage of the election process.

There were some like Andrés Oseguera (@AndresOsegueraV) [es] who started calling this demonstration “the Mexican Spring”:

Is this – finally – our Mexican Spring? La #MarchaYoSoy132 (I am 132 protest) #NoMasTelevisa (No More Televisa)

The movement has turned out to be the oxygen for political life in a country where apathy was the rule, as it was pointed out by Ivan CD (@ivan6500) [es]:

Esta pinche generación ha conseguido un milagro La #MarchaYoSoy132‬ cuando perdia mi fe en Mexico aparecieron ustedes!!! #GRACIAS‬!

This dreadful generation has worked a miracle. #MarchaYoSoy132, you appeared just as I was losing my faith in Mexico!!! #THANK YOU!

University students protest on May 23 against media manipulation. Picture by Hector Aiza Ramirez, under Demotix copyright.

Part of the frustration comes from the similarity many have noticed between the winning candidate and the soap operas produced by Televisa. Leopoldo Pérez (@leo_lpv) [es] published a motto heard at the protest:

The #MarchaYoSoy132 we don't want soap operas, we want schools!

These protests have taken place in several cities across the country like Oaxaca, Cuernavaca, Saltillo, Mérida, Guadalajara, among others, showing the strong discontent the young have towards mainstream media. Erika-Flowers (@ErikaFlores27) [es] wrote:

The #MarchaYoSoy132 Mainstream mass media are information oppressors and manipulators used by the “powerful”…

This heterogeneous group of young people has woken up and shown their indignation to the heartrending problems of a country that coexists daily with frightening poverty levels, more than 60 thousand deaths due to a ‘war‘ against organized crime, and endless social issues that make it imperative, like David Sánchez Romero (@Deiv_SR) said, to have a better Mexico:

México entrará en un momento de: YO NO ME VOY A DEJAR FREGAR, YO YA NO, ENTIENDAN YO SOY UN JOVEN QUE QUIERE UN MÉXICO MEJOR

Mexico will enter a moment of: I AM NOT LETTING SOMEONE SCREW WITH ME, NOT ANY MORE, UNDERSTAND THAT I AM A YOUNG PERSON THAT WANTS A BETTER MEXICO

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