What’s Wrong With Mexico’s 2012 Presidential Election?

By Juan Jose Gutierrez

What Mexicans living in the U.S. have wanted for a long time is the right to vote from here. The vast majority of Mexicans in the United States continue to be effectively prevented from voting in Mexico’s presidential election due to the lack of an effective mechanism to allow Mexicans to obtain voter registration cards in this country.

January15, 2012 concluded the period during which Mexican citizens residing in the United States could register to vote in Mexico’s Presidential Election on July 1, 2012. It’s estimated that several thousand Mexican citizens will surely vote by mail. However, it is unknown how many will choose to travel to their communities of origin in Mexico to vote on Election Day. This civic exercise indicates the seriousness with which Mexicans who reside in the United States assume their civic responsibility to elect the next president of the Mexican Republic.

Mexico’s Constitution extends the right to vote to all Mexican citizens who are at least 18 years of age, have obtained a voter identification card, and who have registered to vote by January 15, 2012. As a practical matter, federal authorities prevent the vast majority of Mexicans who reside in the United States from exercising their constitutional right to vote by mail by not allowing those citizens to obtain their voter registration cards while in the United States.

Before the 2006 presidential elections, we worked diligently and with dedication to get the federal authorities to authorize the appropriate budget to obtain voter registration cards from the United States, but the Mexican government refused to extend us that right. This year, Mexican officials said the requested political actions were imminent. Yet, as of today, those promises have yet to be fulfilled. The political consequences of those decisions are there for all to see.

In a little more than five months, there will be another presidential election in Mexico and 99 percent of all eligible Mexicans who could vote from abroad will not be able to vote, denying them the opportunity to participate in the democratic process. Mexico’s federal government is to blame for this sad state of affairs.

What Mexican officials should do is invest in the infrastructure to allow their citizens to vote from the United States. For example, a Mexican citizen currently living in Nome, Alaska, has to buy a round trip plane ticket to travel to Mexico and register to vote at an IFE-electoral module.  After he or she returns to Nome, Alaska, he or she then returns to Mexico to retrieve his or her voter identification card. Undocumented Mexican citizens cannot travel to obtain voter identification cards for obvious reasons. This effectively prevents any Mexican citizen living abroad from ever voting in Mexico’s Presidential Election.

The ongoing blockade against our right to vote from abroad in Mexico’s presidential election will soon reach a nearly 100-year milestone.

February 5th of this year marks the 95th anniversary when the Constitutional Congress proclaimed from the City of Queretaro the Political Constitution of the United States of Mexico.  Because it became the first political constitution in the history of humanity that acknowledged humanitarian rights, there’s no doubt that the occasion should be celebrated in a big way all across Mexico.

Be that as it may, Mexico’s Political Constitution will continue to be violated by the federal government due to its persistence in denying to millions of its best citizens the right to vote from abroad.

What is most tragic and unacceptable is the fact that Mexicans on this side of the border cannot participate in the celebration of the most important presidential election of the last 95 years.

Juan Jose Gutierrez is the President of Vamos Unidos USA, and the founder in Los Angeles of the Movement for National Regeneration (Movimiento de Regeneracion Nacional-MORENA).

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January 26, 2012  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

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