This Week in the Americas

Mexico’s Dramatic Vote Count Lacks Credibility
By Laura Carlsen

Mexico’s official vote count unfolded more like a suspense novel than an electoral process yesterday. Commentators and common citizens sat poised at television or computer screens as Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s two-and-a-half point lead gradually dwindled until—at four in the morning—the conservative candidate, Felipe Calderón, pulled ahead. The final tally showed an unbelievably thin margin of just over half a percentage point.

The operative word here is “unbelievable.” López Obrador´s Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) and large parts of the population have publicly questioned the results. In a morning press conference, López Obrador announced he will challenge the vote count in the Electoral Tribunal. “We cannot accept these results,” he stated, citing “numerous irregularities—to put it mildly.”

Laura Carlsen directs the Americas Program of the International Relations Center, online at

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Latin American Immigrants Struggle for Fair Immigration Reform
By Oscar Chacón

The threat that the U.S. Congress could approve something so reactionary as bill H.R. 4437 has had a detonator effect on a new era of community mobilization where the immigrant community, mainly of Latin American origin, has decided not to remain silent. The demonstrations of civic participation in the last 12 weeks announce the beginning of a rebirth in the struggle for political, economic, social, and cultural rights of large segments of American society, a process in which the immigrant communities will play an active role.

In the short term, the most important impact of the community marches has been the alteration of the legislative debate in the U.S. Senate. Specifically, the community marches made viable the consideration of a proposal that at least conceptually included the legalization of a segment of the immigrant population that lacks authorization. The result of the legislative debate in the Senate, even after the massive marches, is very far from the expectations of immigrant communities. Independently of what is approved by the Senate, the bill will have to be reconciled with H.R. 4437.

Oscar A. Chacón is Director of Enlaces América, a project of the Heartland Alliance for Human Needs & Human Rights in Chicago, IL, and member of the Executive Committee of the National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities (NALACC). He is an immigration analyst for the IRC Americas Program at

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The United States and Cuba: Strands of a Failed Policy
By Mavis Anderson

Justice cannot be done to the United States