Saturday, December 05, 2020

Shades of Mexico 1988 in USA 2020

Back in July 1988, I had a long business phone call with my late father-in-law.  I said goodbye and told him that I was going to watch the Mexican elections on TV that night.  He said something that turned out to be prophetic:  "Cuidado con la computadora" or watch out for the computer.  He was referring to the new computer that was supposed to count the votes more efficiently than ever.  

Late on election night, the computer stopped counting:   

President Miguel de la Madrid governed Mexico for most of the 1980s, through one of its most painful economic crises, a devastating earthquake and a period of diplomatic tensions with the United States. But perhaps the most widely scrutinized act of his presidency came on the night in 1988 that his successor, Carlos Salinas de Gortari, was elected.

In an autobiography that began circulating in Mexico this week, Mr. de la Madrid sheds more light on that dark night in Mexico's history. What he reveals is not new, political analysts said. But in 850 pages, Mr. de la Madrid's memoirs give the firmest confirmation to date of one of this country's biggest open secrets: the presidential elections of 1988 were rigged.

Political analysts and historians have described that election as one of the most egregious examples of the fraud that allowed the Institutional Revolutionary Party to control this country for more than seven decades, and the beginning of the end of its authoritarian rule.

Initial results from areas around the capital showed that Mr. Salinas was losing badly to the opposition leader Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas. ''I felt like a bucket of ice water had fallen on me,'' Mr. de la Madrid recalled. ''I became afraid that the results were similar across the country and that the PRI would lose the presidency.'

Later at night, I was watching the TV and heard that the vote counting had stopped.   I called my father-in-law who laughed and said:   "Se rompio la computadora" or the computer broke down.

Yes, the computer broke down because the opposition vote was so strong that it shook up the people in power.

Last, but not least, all the votes from 1988 were burned to stop the controversy.  It did not stop the controversy, but made things worst.

Most Mexican analysts believe that 1988 was the "earthquake" that destroyed the ruling PRI party and gave rise to the opposition and current President Andres Lopez-Obardor.  In other words, Mexico was never the same after that night.

To be fair, the U.S. is not Mexico.  Our system is much better and what happened in Mexico in 1988 was that the ruling PRI party would not accept an opposition victory.  But while the U.S. is not Mexico, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Milwaukee, and Detroit look a lot like Mexico’s corrupt one-party state.

I could not help but remember my late father-in-law the moment that Pennsylvania stopped counting the vote.

P.S.  You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

We remember Chico Ruiz (1934-72)

Chico Ruiz stealing home 1964 against Phillies
We remember Giraldo (Sablon) Ruiz who was born in Santo Domingo, Cuba on this day in 1934.   He died in early 1972 in an automobile accident.

Chico Ruiz broke with the Reds in 1964.    He hit .240 over 8 seasons with Reds and later the Angels.   His numbers, and limited playing time, have to be understood in the context of playing behind fellow Cuban Leo Cardenas with the Reds and later Jim Fregosi with the Angels.

He is well known for stealing home in the middle of the 1964 National League pennant race.     This is the story:
"Despite not being known as a big-time base stealer (he was only 34 for 50 in his career), Chico managed to steal one of the most improbable bases in the history of the sport. This occurred during a game on September 24, 1964, against the Philadelphia Phillies. After a one-out single, Ruiz found himself on third base with two outs. There were also two strikes on the batter — none other than five-time All-Star and former (and future) Most Valuable Player Frank Robinson.
Somehow, in Chico Ruiz’s mind, it made sense to try to steal home at this very moment. Remember, there were TWO strikes on Robinson, one of the most feared hitters in the game, so not only was the opposition concerned that big Frank could change the game with one swing, Chico had to have been concerned for his well-being. If Chico got a good jump and Frank swung at a pitch not knowing he was coming, Chico would have been in great danger. If Robinson swung and struck Ruiz with a line drive, not only would Chico have likely been injured, but he may also have been called out depending on whether he was within the base line. Finally, if Ruiz was thrown out trying to steal home with Robinson at the plate, the play may have gone down as one the biggest boneheaded plays the game has ever seen. An infield single would have scored Ruiz; so would a wild pitch.
It was the fact that Ruiz was successful that made this play so memorable. Phillies pitcher Art Mahaffey saw the runner breaking for home and hurried his delivery. That resulted in a pitch that could not be handled by his catcher and an easy run for the Reds. The run happened to be the only one of the game, as the Reds defeated the Phillies, 1-0, the first of ten straight losses by the (then) first-place Phillies."
And so it was “The day Chico Ruiz stole home” with Frank Robinson at the plate.

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