Up Close and Personal with the Mexican Elections

This summer, I got the chance to work remote in Mexico. I am staying with my family in Guadalajara, a large city in the state of Jalisco. While I had been expecting to enjoy life in Mexico, including the food, the activities, and the company of my wonderful family, I had not realized until the week that I left that I would be there to witness an historic election.

I admit that, while I consider myself an informed citizen, I don’t pay enough attention to politics in the U.S., the country where I live. I pay even less attention to the politics of Mexico, the country where a lot of my family lives. I watch the news, I read articles, but I never feel like I know enough. However, what happens in both countries affects my family and me greatly.

My lack of familiarity with Mexican politics and the candidates bade me to rely on my family’s opinions, the Mexican news, and my own research. Here is an analysis on the Mexican elections based on my experience in Mexico.

Candidates

Elections in Mexico - voteThe elections of 2018 were considered to be the biggest in Mexican history; not only will the elected president lead the country through major issues, such as corruption, violence, and poverty, but 30 of the 32 Mexican states also held local elections. This means that the election will have a tremendous effect on the country, with the opportunity for widespread change. Of course, the attention was on the presidential candidates.

A successful politician has to have very specific qualities, including being a hard worker, a strong communicator, and a leader. Unfortunately, politicians can have a successful career without necessarily having the best mindset or the best interests of the people in mind. Rarely are citizens ever fully satisfied with a candidate, and this was no exception for the Mexican elections of 2018.

Of course, the elections happened on July 1st, which has already passed and a winner, Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), has already been announced. However, it is still important to note the most important candidates who were in the running.

Bronco

Jaime Rodríguez Calderón, known as Bronco, was never a likely candidate to win, but he is notable because he was the first significant independent candidate. Though he didn’t have as many supporters as the other candidates, he did have the support of enough people to be noticed.

Meade

Meade has worked in the government for two terms as an economic advisor. He helped keep Mexico from economic ruin in 2008 while other countries, the United States included, went into major recessions. Meade had some great ideas, such as promising to build thousands of hospitals around the country, raising the minimum wage, and equalizing wages for men and women.

However, Meade was not favored by the majority of the people because he ran as the candidate for the Partido Revolucionario Institucional, which stands for Institutional Revolutionary Party and ir referred to as the PRI party. They have not only been in power for the past 6 years, but for the majority of the last century. Under the rule of the PRI party, there has been a lot of political corruption and violence, and the people are fed up, unwilling to listen to Meade’s ideas.

Anaya

According to an article by Time, Ricardo Anaya was the only candidate with a chance of beating AMLO. He also had some good ideas, including making the attorney general’s office separate from the government to prevent government corruption, as well as introducing a universal income to alleviate poverty. The latter idea is a nice one, but it is unclear where the funds for this would come from, making it essentially an empty promise.

AMLO

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador had run for the presidency twice before, and this was his third time. One of the times, he held an inaugural ceremony for himself although he lost because the vote had been close, and he claimed there was fraud. He declared that he was the true president, an act that shows a narcissistic tendency that has proven to be dangerous in country leaders. His dangerous tendencies don’t stop there, as he also supposedly murdered two men, one being his brother.

AMLO also made his own political party, called Moreno, which also won many of the votes for other elected positions. He is supposedly a leftist but is socially conservative. However, his platform was pretty vague, and he is known to say whatever he can to please the public. He claims that he will end corruption in Mexico, though he hasn’t told citizens how he plans on doing this.

Todos Menos AMLO

In English, this phrase translates to anyone but AMLO. Of course, AMLO ended up winning the election. Now, some people celebrate as they expect a turning point for Mexico. However, as was discussed, AMLO has a pattern of making promises that would be unlikely to happen, to say the least. In order to understand what happened and how Mexican citizens and AMLO’s opponents are feeling, you need to understand two things.

Here is the first: I will be the first person to defend Mexico’s honor. Despite the corruption and poverty in the country, Mexico remains a beautiful country with resilient, hopeful people. However, no one will deny the corruption, poverty, and lack of education, either. While many people in Mexico go to school, attend university, and get good jobs, many other people simply don’t have the opportunity to do so. These people usually live in small villages or in the poor neighborhoods in cities.

Since they don’t have a high education, they remain ignorant to many issues — especially political ones. These people also face the worst of many problems in Mexico. For this reason, they were all too willing to vote for the candidate who made the best promises, without thinking about how it could be done or what it could mean for the country.

Of course, poverty-stricken populations are not completely to blame for the election result. With the violence and corruption in the country, many people were equally desperate to hold on to any promise of hope, even if it was simply an illusion.

The second thing you need to understand is that many people are comparing AMLO to Trump, saying that the former is basically a poorer version of the latter. Essentially, many Mexicans are feeling now what many Americans felt when Trump won the presidency: hopelessness, despair, and fear for the future.

Interestingly enough, AMLO and Trump are off to a supposed good start. The day after the election, they talked to each other and already made some significant decisions. For example, Trump recently pulled out of the North American Fair Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which will have an impact on both countries’ economies. However, after Trump announced that he was pulling out of the deal, he reached out to the Canadian government to offer them a side deal. In solidarity with Mexico, Canada refused the offer.

The same day AMLO and Trump talked, one day after the election, Trump offered the same to Mexico and AMLO accepted, though it is yet to be official. Still, this is an interesting precedent to the relationship between the two politicians. Trump is infamous for calling Mexican people rapists, drug-dealers, and more; he has also implemented strict immigration policies, targeting Mexican immigrants with his wall and family separations.

Theoretically, if AMLO could achieve a good relationship with Trump, it could mean a better relationship between the two countries. However, this is highly unlikely and showing such camaraderie to someone who has so greatly insulted the country, the people who live in it, and the people who have emigrated from it is not a good thing. For now, the mood is tense, but we remain hopeful that AMLO may come through for us, for Mexico.

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Geo SiqueAuthor: Geo Sique is a content creator from Boise, ID. Passionate about social justice, she frequently writes articles on culture and societal issues and aspires to make a positive impact through her writing.