Peña Nieto Buses In Paid Supporters for El Grito
Last year, we half-jokingly asked whether Enrique Peña Nieto would be the first of Mexico’s presidents to stand behind a bulletproof glass to give El Grito de Independencia on the September 15. As others have written, El Grito has increasingly become the staging ground for the expression of public dissent and a thorn in the side for recent presidents. Peña Nieto and the PRI, however, were one step ahead of everyone.
Rather than deal with jeers, whistles and green lasers, Peña Nieto turned to party loyalists from his home state of the State of Mexico to help him give the annual cry of freedom. The acarreados, or paid supporters, were reportedly given 350 pesos (about $27 USD), a free meal and transportation to and from Mexico City. People at the Zócalo said that Peña Nieto’s Presidential Guard cordoned off the front row closest to the Palacio Nacional for those who were bussed in and were given a special sticker, as seen in the video above.
Official estimates say that only 50,000 people attended last night’s Grito, a very low number compared to previous years. A time-lapse video taken at the Zócalo shows thousands filing out immediately after fireworks went off indicating Peña Nieto had given the Grito de Dolores. Observers say that a majority of those who left early were paid supporters. The plaza was almost completely empty by 11:30 p.m.
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