Transcript

Mexico's Rock the Vote

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Armando David
Co-Founder, "Tu Rock Es Votar"
Thursday, June 29, 2006; 1:00 PM

Armando David , co-founder of Mexico's "Tu Rock Es Votar," joined washingtonpost.com videojournalist Christina Pino-Marina to discuss the campaign to increase to young voter participation in the upcoming presidential election.

Watch the video: Mexico Rocks the Vote.

The transcript follows.

"Tu Rock Es Votar" is Mexico's version of Rock the Vote. Concerned with young voters' growing disenchantment with Mexican politics, David looked to the United States' "Rock the Vote" for inspiration. Concerts and aggressive ads featuring Mexican rock and pop stars are designed to increase voter participation while promoting healthy democracy in Mexico. MTV Latin America and non-profit organizations are part of the effort. About 30 million of Mexico's 71.4 million voters are between 18 and 35. "Tu Rock Es Votar," is targeting these voters, encouraging them to participate in the upcoming July 2 presidential election, which could be a close race.

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Armando David: Hello Everyone,

My name is Armando David and I am the coordinator of Tu Rock Es Votar campaign in Mexico City. Welcome all and I hope we have a great session.

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Washington, D.C. : Do young voters in Mexico tend to vote for a particular party or candidate? Do they have any clear tendencies at this point?

Armando David: Good question.

Young voters in Mexico do not have a particular interest in a party, the usually vote for the persona behind the party. The problem in Mexico is that young voter represent more than 40% of total voters and in past elections only 30% voted.

At this moment there are no clear tendencies as to where the young vote will decide, the vast majority of the undecided vote 14%, is conformed by young voters.

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Arlington, Va.: Do you think that "rock the vote," as an import from the United States, shows that Mexico is becoming more American with each passing day?

Armando David: Absolutely not.

It is a great mechanism to reach young voters, this does not mean that Mexico is becoming more like United States. This kind of efforts have been seen around the world supporting AIDS and POVERTY.

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Christina Pino-Marina: Thanks, or should I say "muchas gracias," to Armando David, who is joining us from Mexico City today. It was a lot of fun learning about Mexico's version of Rock the Vote while working on the video for washingtonpost.com. Armando, please tell us about the inspiration for Tu Rock Es Votar and why you thought it was important at this particular time in Mexican politics.

Armando David: Thank you Christina it was a pleasure having you down here. There is no doubt that Mexico is going through a historic moment, this elections will be the toughest and closest race ever. Last year, by coincidence we analyzed a couple of data and got to the conclusion that something had to be done. Only 30% of young voters voted the last election and we figured out that doing something with artists like the Rock the Vote campaign would make a difference, a couple of tequilas and a couple of phone calls we started the project....today more than 30 major artists participate....

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Arlington, Va.: What is your Web site and how many daily readers do you get?

Also, what role do you feel candidates' political sites are playing in this election?

Armando David: www.turockesvotar.org and we have more than 11,000 visits daily. Internet has become a powerful tool in the young population. Today we have more than 12 million Internet users and as a communication tool I believe it has worked to the extent that many candidate have viral campaigns circulating as we chat.

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Washington, D.C.: Is rock music the most popular type of music in Mexico for young people? I'm wondering if linking voting to more traditional music might also be a way to encourage young voters, especially in the countryside, to participate.

Armando David: Good question.

We gathered more than 30 artists including soccer players, banda players and country bands. This was very important for us, we had to reach all of the young voters and gathering the talent was critical. Along with the media exposure we visited more than 50 public and private schools with artists and academics to brief the young population about the importance of voting and participating in your country.

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Arlington, Va.: If you had to speculate, would you say that the more young people go out and vote, the more it would help Lopez Obrador. I say that because of the tendency world wide for the young to usually vote more to the left.

Armando David: Your comment is in the right direction, but here in Mexico studies show that the young vote distributes equally the same as the older vote. In this case, there is no clear evidence that young voters in Mexico incline to the left. Studies show that their votes distributes equally.

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Arlington, Va.: I noticed that you your campaign involves a lot of TV and Internet ads, but what is being done to reach the poorer class of people, who do not have access to the Internet or possibly even TV?

Armando David: We visited more than 50 private and public schools around Mexico city with artists and academics, as part of the project we had free concerts in 8 cities located in the north, central and south region. With the time we had, I believe we managed to cover great part of the country and reached all kinds of young people. We also had deals with BIMBO AND COCA COLA, in which they helped promote TU ROCK ES VOTAR in their products. This two companies reach any corner in Mexico, this helped us reach poorer areas.

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Bethesda, Md.: Christina: Great video and reporting. It was a lot of fun to watch and was very informative. How did you learn about this campaign, and what inspired you to report on it?

Christina Pino-Marina: Thanks very much! I saw an item about "Tu Rock" and MTV Latin America on the wires. I went to the "Tu Rock" web site and was intrigued by the ad with the rock and pop stars. I had heard some Rock En Espanol before and wanted to know more about the role of it in Mexican politics. Plus, I thought it would be fun to focus on young voters. And it was.

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Arlington, Va.: Are there any young Mexican politicians who are up and coming that the media should be watching?

Armando David: There are a couple that have great ideas and a lot of energy. I hope they maintain there impulse throughout this coming years. I can mention one that has potential and possibilities to reach presidency in 2012. His name is Enrique Pe' Nieto and his from the PRI party, there is Alberto Cinta from the Nueva Alianza Party and Gabriela Cuevas from the PAN.

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Washington, D.C.: If your rock the vote program increases youth turnout, do you plan to continue it in subsequent elections, including congressional elections?

Armando David: Yes, there is a plan to continue this effort. We need to sit down and discuss the results of the campaign and efforts done, but we do have in mind since the beginning that we were in it for the long run....

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Washington, D.C.: I enjoyed the video on your innovative campaign. I recently read an article that said that a significant number of young upper-class Mexicans were voting for Obrador, despite the fact that their parents were for Calderon. What do you think this is about?

Armando David: I have no information on this. I can only tell you that more than ever, the young vote is divided and they will not stick to one party.

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Arlington, Va.: Is there anything being done to organize young Mexicans living in the U.S., who are also eligible to vote?

Armando David: YES.

The Instituto Federal Electoral in Mexico made it's efforts on organizing Mexican voters in the US. The results were disappointing, only 43,000 Mexicans living in the US will vote this elections, more than 10 million papers were sent to the US but the amount of bureaucracy and tramits made it almost impossible for Mexicans in the US to vote.

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Alabama: Rock the Vote has had rather disappointing results in the United States. What do you think would make it more successful in Mexico?

Armando David: I believe that the Rock the Vote campaign in the US decided somewhere in the course to openly support one party and this breaks all the rules. We in Mexico will never do this and will by all means maintain our independence and our message will never be politicized

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Arlington, VA: Do you have any plans to continue a similar effort to get out the vote for smaller elections, for governor's, senators etc?

Armando David: Yes, we are on plans to cover that terrain also.

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Arlington, Va.: if we want to help or get involved from here in the U.S., what can we do?

Armando David: Thank You.

In a couple of years we want to target the Hispanic voters in the US, when we reach that point I believe you can help us in many ways, meantime, supporting the program and sending the videos can help.

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Washington, D.C.: Why do you think so few Mexicans in the United States are voting in the election? Thank you for you time.

Armando David: The process was very difficult. People had to fill out paperwork and then they had to pay for the delivery in postal office. This cost about 25 US dollars, many Mexicans in the US can't afford paying this amount of money to only vote.

Many Mexicans believed that if they gave their US address the IRS or Immigration would come by and pick them up.

There are many factors but I believe that in next elections there will be more voters.

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Bethesda, Md.: Isn't the slogan "Si no votas, callate" (If you don't vote, shut up) a tad authoritarian? Isn't a legitimate option to abstain from voting amidst all the mudslinging between candidates?

Armando David: It is an aggressive slogan for a young generation that has many distractions, this slogan has been the best part of the campaign because it is appealing to the youth, it's how we speak, it's us, it's aggressive and at the same time it communicates the importance of voting....

if you don't vote, shut up, don't criticize something if you don't participate in it...that is the logic of the slogan...

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Moctezuma, Sonora, Mexico: I wish you well, but my 90 Mexican university students polled as apathetic as their American counterparts. No one is interested in Obrador because of his affiliation with Telmex robber baron Carlos Slim. He is a bigger impediment to competition than Medrazo and all others combined! What a shame. The young people here understand this.

Armando David: Thank You.

As a teacher you have a great responsibility of speaking with your students and forge the culture of participation in them. It is not about politics, it is about our country, our town, our pueblo. We have to start there and then on bigger things. Voting is just the first step in democracy, from there on we have to pressure our representatives to commit and serve the people. We know that the candidates and their campaigns are not what we expected, but we have to make a decision and vote for the one you believe will make the best for our country. I hope you can take time and speak with your students and convince them that they have to participate in order for this country to evolve and for them to have a better future.

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Washington: If Rock the Vote is successful in Mexico, do you think it will spread to other Latin countries in Central and South America?

Armando David: Of course.

We have been contacted by a couple of young enthusiasts in different countries and I believe this will spread all over the world, it is important that the younger generations start to have part on decisions and projects that will affect our immediate future.

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Arlington, VA: Is there anything that we can do, Mexicans living in the US, to help with the get out the vote effort in Mexico? Do you have any bases or contacts in the US?

Armando David: Yes....

Spread the videos, visit our Web site and encourage young voters to participate on a daily basis in your town, neighborhood or office...

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Washington, D.C.: Do you think Mexico's defeat in the World Cup will have any effect on voter turnout, and/or on which candidate voters choose?

Armando David: No way...

The question is what would have happened if Mexico would be playing semifinals this Saturday 1 of July and they either won or lose, that would be unpredictable, but would be a great project to study..

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Arlington, VA: As the older members of your legislature, many from the PRI, die off or retire, do you think the PRI will decline into irrelevance as a political party?

Armando David: PRI will have to re-organize and a new party with a new face will surface out. They will not surrender so easy.

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Harrisburg, Pa.: What have been voter participation rates among young people in recent Mexican elections? Has there been any trend, i.e. Mexican youth are becoming more (or less) interested in politics?

Armando David: 30% of young voters voted last election. we represent 45% of total voters 35 million.....and only 30% voted...

That is terrible

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Washington, D.C.: Watching the Rock the Vote ads, I noticed that the people you used in your ads look very distinct from the average Mexican. I understand that these (light-skinned, extremely fashionably dressed) people are stars and stars simply don't look like normal people. Do you think it's possible that lower class Mexicans might have a hard time relating to these ads, however?

Armando David: There are a couple of artists like CAFE TACUBA that reach to the masses, I believe that yes not all will relate to all of the artists but in the bunch they can find a couple of artists that they follow and believe on.

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Rockville, Md.: Do you think young voters in Mexico tend to vote in favor of progressive issues/candidates and that increasing the numbers of young Mexican voters participation in the elections is going to tilt it in favor of Lopez Obrador? (Que excelente trabajo y esfuerzo estan haciendo, viva Mexico!)

Armando David: We can't predict where will the young voters will deposit their vote, we are sure that in the event that the majority of the Mexicans go to vote our democracy, whoever wins will be stronger and stronger and the results will be more convincing.

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Los Angeles, Calif.: Hi Armando, is this the first time there's been an outreach to the younger generation of Mexican voters? How important are they as a voting block to the country's politics?

Armando David: YES first time.

we represent 45% of total voters, 35 million and this means that we have the majority on our side..

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Washington, D.C.: What parts of NAFTA will Obrador try to renegotiate if elected? What do you think his election will mean for the Mexican economy and immigration to the U.S.?

Armando David: I have no idea. We can't comment on this topics.

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Wilmington, N.C.: Why do you think young people in Mexico have to be encouraged to vote? Is it that they, like American youth, take little interest in politics, or is it that they feel that Mexican politicians are corrupt and only listen to the rich and powerful?

Armando David: there are a huge number of reasons why young voters don't feel comfortable with politics. what we believe is that we have to change the apathy in younger generations, we need to speak up and participate....doing this we can change all those reasons why younger people don't take part on their country.

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Armando David: THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

IT WAS A PLEASURE CHATTING WITH ALL OF YOU.

Best Wishes and hope to hear from you soon.

desde Mexico.

con cari'o. with love.

TU ROCK ES VOTAR

www.turockesvotar.org

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Christina Pino-Marina: Thanks so much, Armando. And thanks to everyone for the great questions.

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Editor's Note: washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Live Online discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions. washingtonpost.com is not responsible for any content posted by third parties.


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