The Mexican Elections... a step to the left, or two steps back?
As I write, Mexico is making final preparations for the presidential elections to be held tomorrow, July 1st..
The country seems as divided as the United States politically as roughly the same percentage of voters favor left leaning candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of the PRD and Enrique Peña Nieto of the PRI.
The third major candidate, Josefina Vazquez Mota of the PAN Party, has virtually no chance as polls show her trailing the top two candidates badly.
Whoever wins, the election is going to have major consequences for the United States.
Both Peña Nieto and Lopez Obrador are advocating policies in the drug war, which has claimed over 50,000 victims over the last 6 years, that would basically allow the free flow of drugs to the United States.
Mexico is asking whether it is worth the cost in money and lives to fight a war over a product that is essentially passing through the country on the way to the wealthy drug users.
Let me put it another way.
Why should Mexican citizens die in a futile attempt to curtail an insatiable addiction of another country? After all, Mexico is not a major player when it comes to drug use, rather, it is more of a transit route.
Peña Nieto has said his administration will focus on crimes that directly affect the Mexican people. That includes things like extortion, kidnapping and murder. Lopez Obrador, in classic leftist rhetoric is saying he will take the military off the streets in six months and put his focus jobs for the millions of underemployed young people in the country.
Notice that neither candidate is saying he will continue the war on drugs that was undertaken six years ago by current President, Felipe Calderone.
As I listen to everyday people on the street, here is what I am sensing.
It is time to return to the days of the PRI, the party that ruled Mexico for 70 years before finally losing in 2000 to PAN candidate Vicente Fox.
I was in Mexico on the night he was elected and all I can say is that the country was ecstatic. They had finally done it, had finally declawed the dinosaur. And now, just 12 years later, they are ready to give that dinosaur life again.
That is the view of the establishment.
Young people, the type that were partly responsible for the Arab Spring across the Middle East, are all in for Lopez Obrador. But I do not think they have the numbers to make the difference.
I believe Lopez Obrador dashed his own hopes to win the presidency by acting like a spoiled brat after he narrowly lost to Felipe Calderone in 2006. If, after that election he had accepted defeat gracefully, rather than crying fraud and trying to set up a shadow government in exile, the people would have backed him heavily this time around.
I will be in Oaxaca City all morning and the rural areas in the afternoon trying to get a sense of what is happening. We are being told that a winner will be announced by midnight.
Soon we will have a new President-Elect in Mexico and a new policy towards the United States.
Who can say where this will lead, except that it seems certain that whoever wins will be looking for a way to curtail the violence that has led to more deaths in Mexico in 6 years than we saw in the entire Vietnam War that so consumed our country.
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As expected, Enrique Peña Nieto was elected the new president of Mexico. His margin of victory however was much less than the polls showed. In pre-election polling, he was leading Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador [AMLO] by over 10%. His margin of victory will end up about 5%.
AMLO has, like he did when he lost in 2006, cried fraud, although his supporters have turned up nothing that could even remotely change the final tally, even if everything he alleges were true.
Mexico has worked hard to reform their system and for a majority of the country, there is a feeling that AMLO just cannot, or will not accept that he lost.
I am sure this will lead to some protests around the country starting tomorrow when the official tallies are released.
Now we will wait for the upcoming changes in the war on drugs that has claimed so many lives...