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PRI Strategy Memo Plans Dirty Tricks

By: David Real | Real Acapulco News - 15 January, 2011

(Chilpancingo, JG 15 January) An eight-page document dated November 26, 2010 and titled “Strategy Memo: Vote Suppression in Guerrero,” has been leaked to the press. It has not yet been authenticated. The memo provides instructions for several actions by a political campaign before, during and after voting, to steal the election. Most of the tactics involve violence and intimidation to suppress voting in areas of opposition strength, the spreading of fear, disinformation and rumor, and the destruction of ballots once they have been cast. The document purports to be a blue print for dirty tricks and election crimes on behalf of “Better Times for Guerrero,” a “coalition” of the PRI and two minuscule parties. The candidate is former Acapulco mayor Manuel Añorve Baños.

As expected, the PRI has disputed the authenticity of the document, calling it a forgery and a fraud, a “dirty trick” of its own, perpetrated by “Guerrero Unites Us.” This group is comprised of the PRD, Convergencia and the Workers Party in support of Ángel Aguirre Rivero for governor. Opponents of Añorve claim that the document, marked “Confidential” in one corner, is genuine. The Jornada Guerrero, a paper that endorses the PRD candidate, published details of the memo, but did not address the issue of authenticity. Undoubtedly that debate will unfold in ensuing days.

The memo describes a multi-prong action plan. One of them is to simulate violence against the PRI and its supporters to provide cover and to give a basis for claims of foul play against the PRD and its allies. The idea is to show their candidate, Manuel Añorve, is a victim of dirty tricks, not a perpetrator. One such tactic is to announce some minor failure in the candidate’s helicopter, perhaps by sabotage. The failure need not be real, just reported as such. Another is to shoot up the vehicle of one of his family members or of a PRI representative in an urban area. Another is to feign a kidnapping of some party figure, linking the kidnappers to narcotics trafficking and the political opposition, using the politically accommodating Acapulco police command as the source of the disinformation.

Tactics of vote suppression included “accelerating the climate of instability” in Acapulco. Instruction is given to accuse the PRD of being violent. Label it the party of beatings, excessive force and repression. A key feature is to tag Aguirre himself, as a “chieftain and assassin.”

A second prong of the strategy is called “moral exploitation,” which would use the visits of prominent celebrities and politicians supporting the PRI to generate election publicity in media segments where political ads are not permitted. In the same way, the memo advises to publicize any any loss of ground by the PRD, discredit their polling, intimidate the press and other media, fake an attack against a radio station, continue with payoffs to “opinion leaders” on state radio (at least “the eight that are on board,”) and pay off Televisa, which is described as willing to do “whatever the PRI wants for so long as it gets paid.”

The municipal government prong is to have all city spokespersons talk up the virtues of Añorve Baños whenever possible, exploit the “Bicentennial Bridge” achievement, and link to Añorve every visible city project. For incomplete projects and for the failings of CAPAMA, blame the previous two administrations, which were occupied by PRD candidates. The person named as the lead horse on this tactic is the current mayor, José Luis Ávila, identified in the document by his codename,” A-5.”

Other tactics mentioned include creating violence outbreaks against civilian society in areas of opposition strength, with a view to screw down the turnout to less than 40 percent. This will ensure that votes already purchased will be enough to carry the day for the PRI candidate.

The memo also instructs campaign staff to make death threats to voters by anonymous phone calls, firing shots at their homes or crashing into their vehicles. Another tactic is to make false bomb threats and call in fire alarms on the offices of the opposition and the homes of opposition party leaders.

“Special Operations” are to commence two days before the election on January 30 with the recruitment and training of “shock groups” and the use of the “special brigade.” All poll clerks will receive visits. All Aguirre signs will be torn down, and a door-knock campaign will be undertaken to inform ignorant voters that Aguirre is a candidate of the PRI.

The day before the election a checklist of “friendly houses” will be made. Money will be passed to municipal leaders who can round up bought votes. Electoral credentials taken from citizens will be taken to the “friendly houses” so that people can be sent to the polls to vote for the PRI.

Smoke screens are planned for the day of the voting: “To be able to operate, we need to generate a perception that the PRI people are being victimized by Aguirre sympathizers. We dress groups up in Aguirre t-shirts and have them attack PRI groups to suppress voting. We organize groups of lawyers to file law suits throughout the day, and at 4:00 we start a rumor that Aguirre has conceded victory to Añorve.”

Certain actions need to be taken to prevent polling places in areas of Aguirre strength from receiving the ballot boxes. Poll workers will be bribed to prevent ballot boxes from being installed, and at least 250 polling places in Aguirre areas will suffer blockades and confusion, starting at 5 am, to prevent the polls from opening on time and to create long lines, causing voters to be discouraged from voting.

The memo contemplates the purchase of 200,000 votes at an average cost of $1000 pesos each. Groups of Añorve sympathizers will police outside the polling areas and steal the credentials out of the hands of any declared PRD supporter. Local community leaders in areas of PRD strength will be given up to $25,000 pesos not to take their people to the polls to vote for Aguirre.

Pickup truck squads of 10 persons, armed and uniformed, will patrol the polling areas to prevent anyone else from intimidating voters who say they will vote for Añorve. Another tactic is to set fire to 750 ballot boxes at the end of the voting day in areas known to be strong for the PRD.

Finally, at day’s end, the memo establishes that word be spread that Añorve has won and then “eliminate the evidence of the voting. Intercept anyone carrying ballots for Aguirre. Take away and burn the ballots to get rid of all traces.” In the early morning hours after the voting, go to voting places where Aguirre claimed victory and take down their signs or sheets.

Whether the memo is authentic or contrived, it is a virtual instruction manual on how to steal an election in Acapulco. Undoubtedly the two campaigns will exchange many angry words over the next few days concerning “the strategy memo.”