By Paula Escalada Medrano.


Members the "Yo soy 132" student protest movement drafted a platform aimed at influencing Mexico's July 1 presidential election and countering perceived media bias, declaring their opposition to the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, candidate Enrique Peña Nieto, the frontrunner in the polls.

"The 132 movement opposes media imposition of any candidate," the student group said in a manifesto released Wednesday at the movement's first assembly.

The goal of the gathering was to stake out the protest movement's political position, which still must be put to a vote in a plenary session.

"We're against the manipulation" by the large television networks and the "contaminated electoral process that aims at restoring the old regime," the document said.

The "Yo soy 132" movement said it rejects voter "coercion and repression and other anti-democratic practices," adding that "there is sufficient evidence that the current face of that regime is Enrique Peña Nieto."

The protest movement started on May 11, when Peña Nieto visited the Universidad Iberoamericana and was jeered by students.

Those in Peña Nieto's inner circle and some members of the media downplayed the incident, accusing the students of being agitators and prompting them to counterattack by making a video that was posted on YouTube.

The criticism led to the birth of the "Somos mas de 131" (We Are More Than 131) movement, which took its name from the number of students who appeared in the video and later evolved into the "Yo soy 132" (I Am 132) movement when students from other universities joined the protests.

The young people also created the Twitter hash tag #LaMarchaYoSoy132 to get their message out to supporters and the public.

The students agreed Wednesday not to encourage the casting of blank ballots, saying that would benefit Peña Nieto, and urged young people to vote "freely and critically."

As they had when the movement was launched earlier this month, the students reiterated that they do not support any political party in particular.

According to organizers, some 6,500 young people gathered at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, or UNAM, for the first "Yo soy 132" assembly to decide upon the content of the manifesto and come up with an action plan for both before and after the presidential and legislative elections.

The PRI governed Mexico without interruption from 1929-2000, a regime described by Nobel Prize-winning novelist Mario Vargas Llosa as "the perfect dictatorship."

That era ended with the election in 2000 of the conservative National Action Party's Vicente Fox, who was succeeded six years later by party colleague Felipe Calderon after the closest contest in Mexican history - which the runner-up, leftist PRD party candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, maintains was marred by fraud.

Peña Nieto's frontrunner status in the presidential race is due in part to Mexicans' frustration over persistently high levels of drug-related violence throughout Calderon's term.

Calderon militarized the struggle against Mexico's heavily armed, well-funded drug mobs shortly after taking office in December 2006, deploying tens of thousands of troops across the country.

The strategy has led to headline-grabbing captures of cartel kingpins, but drug violence has skyrocketed and claimed more than 50,000 lives. EFE