Joy, Disillusionment Over Newly Elected Mexican President

Lopez Obrador, who came in second, refuses to concede.

By EGP and EFE News Service

A handful of Mexican activists gathered at Olvera Street in downtown Los Angeles on Monday to call on the Mexican people to work toward a peaceful, non-partisan transition following the election of Mexico’s new president on July 1.

The election was hotly debated with echoes of the Occupy Movement, resounding against Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) candidate Enrique Peña Nieto, who claimed victory in the election against underdog Andrés Manuel López Obrador of the Mexican Progressive Movement (Movimiento Progresista), and National Action Party (PAN) candidate Josefina Vásquez Mota.
López Obrador, who narrowly lost the 2006 presidential election, has called his supporters to the streets to protest what he says is a bought election by the PRI.

López Obredor and his supporters threaten to create social instability when the country really needs to unite and work together, Xavier Rivas, president of Nevada-based Hispanos for Politics told EGP.

“We believe Peña Nieto will solve Mexico’s problems,” said Rivas, adding that neither he or his press conference companions were sent to defend the newly elected president: We came of our own free will, he said.

Rivas said Mexico faces several challenges, the main one being creating jobs so Mexicans don’t see immigrating to the US as their first or only option. The war on narco traffickers has been a failure and a hallmark of the current PAN president, he said.

PRI was Mexico’s long-time ruling party before current president Felipe Calderón was elected. Presidents in Mexico can only serve one 6-year term in office.

Beatriz Ricartti, of Mujeres en Movimiento, said Voters from Abroad are a significant electorate and contribute to Mexico, not only through remittances, but also through charities. For her, the PRI’s victory means hope, she told EGP.

Mike Gonzalez, of “Los 32 Por Mexico” in Orange County, said the candidates and the public need to accept the results of the election and contribute to the work that needs to happen to benefit the Mexican people.

Gonzalez acknowledged that the current vote by mail system for Mexican citizens living abroad is not perfect, and says he is pushing for all Mexicans abroad to be able to vote in every Mexican election they qualify for, not just the presidential election. He thinks they should even be allowed to be on the ballot.

In the US, there are about three million Mexican citizens who are potential voters, but very few actually submitted a vote, diplomatic and government sources told EFE News Service.

“By the time the deadline for overseas citizens to register to vote had passed, 59,044 voters in ninety-one countries had signed up and at least 47,000 mailed in their vote,” Ricardo Alday, spokesman for Mexico’s Embassy in Washington, to EFE. “An estimated 80 percent of those votes from abroad came from Mexican citizens in the US,” he added.

The number translates to about 32,600 votes submitted by Mexicans living in the US.

A recent study by the Pew Hispanic Center indicated that only 31 percent of Mexicans in the United States had a valid voter registration card, but in actuality there are about three million potential Mexican voters who could vote living in the US.

According to figures from Mexico’s Federal Electoral Institute, the preliminary election results, show that voters living abroad supported PAN candidate Vazquez Mota by 42.1 percent, followed by López Obrador with 38.8 percent, and in last place, Peña Nieto with 15.6 percent of the votes cast from abroad.

The IFE preliminary results for the election, however, on Monday showed Peña Nieto with 36.79 percent of the votes, followed by López Obrador with 33.20 percent, and in last place, Vázquez Mota with 25.25 percent of the votes.

Activists in the US have long denounced the Mexican suffrage process as flawed for citizens who live abroad. Applying for and receiving a voter identification card, required for voting, is nearly impossible to acquire unless one lives near the border and has legal residency to cross. If a Mexican citizen doesn’t live near the border, he has to be wealthy enough to take time off from work and finance a special trip to Mexico to pick up their voter identification card, which is only issued on Mexican territory.

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July 5, 2012  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

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