© 2024 Marfa Public Radio
A 501(c)3 non-profit organization.

Lobby Hours: Monday - Friday 10 AM to Noon & 1 PM to 4 PM
For general inquiries: (432) 729-4578
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
We're currently experiencing technical problems with our KOJP signal, which serves the Presidio area. We regret the inconvenience and hope to be back on the air soon.
Old News

Mexican Voters on the border ready for a woman to lead the country

Presidential candidate Claudia Sheinbaum greets a crowd of supporters during a visit to Ciudad Juarez in March. She promised voters social programs will continue under her presidency.<br>
Luis Torres
/
Puente News Collaborative
Presidential candidate Claudia Sheinbaum greets a crowd of supporters during a visit to Ciudad Juárez in March. She promised voters social programs will continue under her presidency.

CIUDAD JUÁREZ – The tortuous path toward a more equal and democratic Mexico was first carved decades ago on the gritty streets of communities bordering the United States.

The denied election wins of mostly conservative politicians in Ciudad Juárez, Matamoros, Tijuana and other border cities started a process that eventually led to prying loose the one-party grip on national power in 2000.

Now, after 24 years of men from alternating political parties holding the presidency, many Mexicans say they’ve not yet found what they seek.

That’s why many voters — like Jesús Ávila, an employee of a small business in Ciudad Juárez, just across the border from El Paso — believe it’s time to give a woman a chance.

“I have faith that she, the next one, will be the good one,” Avila said.

Ahead of the election Sheinbaum, 61, held about a 20-point advantage over her nearest opponent in a three person race, according to a poll by Puente News Collaborative — an El Paso-based nonprofit news organization. A slew of other polls give her about the same advantage.

Xóchitl Gálvez, also 61, is a self-made tech entrepreneur and conservative politician who grew up poor in a household led by an indigenous father.

Puente’s poll gives Gálvez’s three-party coalition 34% support. A final candidate, Jorge Álvarez Máynez of the center-left Citizens Movement party, has about 12% support.

The Puente poll — conducted by Mexico City’s Buendia & Marquez firm and funded in part by the Center for the U.S. and Mexico at Rice University’s Baker Institute and UC-San Diego’s Center for U.S. Mexican Studies – interviewed 1,000 demographically diverse people. Skewed slightly to areas near the U.S. border, the poll has a margin of error of +/- 3.5%

"As a border resident having an election in your native country and another in my new homeland is close to madness."

Before this century, Mexico had never known electoral democracy. Its politics through most of the 20th century were dominated by the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, a machine that controlled public offices from the presidency to local police commissioners.

This year, Mexico’s national election coincides with the U.S. presidential vote, as it does every dozen years.

Manuel Coss, 30, will leave work Friday in El Paso and drive more than 3 hours south to vote in his native Chihuahua City. And then, Coss said, he’ll fret about the U.S. presidential election in November.

“As a border resident having an election in your native country and another in my new homeland is close to madness,” Coss said. “On the border we feel the impact from both directions.”

<i>Manuel Coss at his office in El Paso. He's a dual U.S. and Mexican citizen and planned to cross the border vote in Mexico's Presidential election Sunday. </i>
Luis Torres
/
Puente News Collaborative
Manuel Coss at his office in El Paso. He's a dual U.S. and Mexican citizen and planned to cross the border vote in Mexico's Presidential election Sunday.

The Puente poll finds that Mexicans favor Joe Biden over Donald Trump as U.S. president, 69 to 11%.

Like many border residents, Coss said he worries about the place that criminal gangs will hold in Mexico’s future.

“We’re on the wrong side of history,” Coss said this week. “Violence is my main concern.”

The most-recent push for democracy began in the early 1980s and resulted in denied victories in Chihuahua, bordering West Texas and New Mexico, and in Tamaulipas, which hugs Southeast Texas and and the Gulf of Mexico.

In 1988, the PRI-held federal government was forced to abort a vote count that many believed would have given the presidency to leftist Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas. The PRI’s Carlos Salinas de Gortari was declared the winner, and soon negotiated a free trade deal with the United States and Canada that has industrialized northern Mexico

The PRI won the presidency again in 1994, by a slight margin, but its power then quickly eroded as democracy forces accelerated. Later that decade, Cárdenas captured Mexico City’s mayorship and opposition parties gained a combined majority in the national congress.

Vicente Fox, a business executive from Gálvez’s National Action Party, won the presidency in 2000, followed in another disputed vote in 2006 by National Action’s Felipe Calderón. AMLO lost that race by less than half a percent of the vote.

Today, a once imperial-presidency is curbed by fragmented political power and a press comparatively freer than in the days of the PRI’s absolute control. However, Mexico remains a dangerous, often deadly, country for journalists due to the spread of narco violence and political corruption.

But his many critics contend that López Obrador has been trying to gut institutions painfully built through 30 years meant to guarantee free and fair elections as well as checks and balances of divided government.

"Just a few years ago it was almost impossible to think a woman could win the presidency."

“López Obrador has already distorted the country’s political system to tilt the electoral playing field in his party’s favor,” political analyst Denise Dresser writes in the U.S. publication Foreign Affairs. “He has shown himself willing to sacrifice anything in order to win, including democracy itself.”

Perla Olivares, a low wage factory worker in Ciudad Juarez, said she has yet to see significant political improvement.

"Sometimes a woman thinks better than a man," she laughed.

Marco Arreortua, 52, a Mexican journalist now living in Phoenix, Arizona, worries about Mexico’s future but believes electing a female president matters a lot. He plans to travel to Mexico to witness the moment.

“For me it’s very significant and will mark Mexico’s political history,” said Arreortua, who will vote online. “Just a few years ago it was almost impossible to think a woman could win the presidency.”

Others doubt that gender-bending politics will lead to much difference.

“Unfortunately, they’re won over by the money, the good position,” said Josefina Gonzales, 52, a Ciudad Juarez grandmother who earns a scant living cleaning houses. “While they reach the highest levels, the poor stay at the bottom.”

This story was produced by KTEP News in partnership with by the Puente News Collaborative ,a nonprofit newsroom, dedicated to high quality, fact-based news and information from the U.S.-Mexico border.
Copyright 2024 KTEP

Old News
Angela Kocherga
Emmy winning multimedia journalist Angela Kocherga is news director with KTEP and Borderzine. She is also multimedia editor with ElPasoMatters.org, an independent news organization.
Alfredo Corchado
Wendy Fry