From nonpolitical marches against media manipulation to the “taking” of government buildings in the state of Veracruz to behind-the-scenes work on proposals for public policy, the private and public university students who consider themselves a part of the YoSoy132 movement differ as much on method as message.
That diversity is a source of strength, says Antonio Attolini, a political science student at Mexico City’s private Autonomous Technological Institute of Mexico (ITAM).
“It’s always a strength to have a lot of voices that come from different perspectives,” says Mr. Attolini, who has emerged as a sort of articulator of a movement that has no leadership and no spokesperson. “This fuels us, and it’s necessary in a democracy as hurt and weak as Mexico’s. It’s a rarity that a movement like this exists. No one is used to it.”
The PRI ruled Mexico for seven decades in a pseudo-democracy in which elections were often marred by opacity and fraud, but it lost its hold on presidential power in 2000 for the first time since its 1929 founding. As Peña Nieto rose in the polls this year and many media outlets treated his victory as a foregone conclusion, some Mexicans feared a return to the cronyism that characterized the PRI of the past. The young, telegenic Peña Nieto promised voters he leads an evolved PRI "of today," and analysts say his victory is proof that Mexico's democracy is stronger than ever.
YoSoy132 emerged last spring after the PRI discredited student protesters at a campaign speech Peña Nieto gave at the private Iberoamerican University in Mexico City. Party leaders suggested the students weren’t students at all but agitators bussed in to cause trouble. The television media echoed the party’s claims.
So a student at the university posted a video compilation online in which 131 other students, showing their student IDs, professed their legitimate opposition to Peña Nieto. The moniker “I Am 132” was born as people voiced support via social networks.