While they say their primary concern is manipulation of the media in the electoral process, their protests have put the PRI on the defensive more than the party candidate's rivals have been able to thus far. And while comparing the incipient movement to the Arab Spring is an exaggeration – and they probably won't be a deciding factor in the election – many are calling #YoSoy132 a wake-up call for the nation's politicians. Many Mexicans are praising the students for having awoken like their peers from Chile, to Spain, to Egypt, who have taken to the streets to protest unfair government policies and power players in their countries.
“It is not necessarily going to change the way this election goes,” says Enrique Cuna, a sociology professor at the Metropolitan Autonomous University Iztapalapa (UAM) who carried out a recent study on youth voting tendencies with United Nations funding. “But it is putting student demands on the public agenda.”
The movement began after the PRI frontrunner, Enrique Peña Nieto, visited the private Iberoamericano University in Mexico City on May 11, where students confronted him on his record as governor of Mexico state. But when the event was given scant attention by the media, students say, and they were dismissed by the PRI as impostors from rival parties, 131 of them created a YouTube video declaring themselves indeed students. Others joined in, saying they were No. 132, and the name #YoSoy132 has stuck.
The students have since led marches on the streets and to government offices, garnering thousands of supporters. They have also marched to the Televisa network station, which students say has portrayed Peña Nieto in a favorable light – both now and during his stint as the governor of Mexico state.