ARIZONA NEWS

Mexicans living in the U.S. take part in Mexico’s presidential election

Jun 29, 2018, 3:41 PM
Presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, known as AMLO, speaks to supporters at a campai...
Presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, known as AMLO, speaks to supporters at a campaign rally in Mexico City, Sunday, June 3, 2018. Mexico will hold general elections on July 1. (AP Photo/Anthony Vazquez)
(AP Photo/Anthony Vazquez)

PHOENIX — They may be far from home, but Mexican citizens living in the United States are eager to influence Mexico’s presidential election being held Sunday.

About 95,000 Mexican citizens living in the U.S. have mailed in their ballots, according to the latest numbers from the Electoral Institute of Mexico City.

Of those, an estimated 20,000 are people living in the U.S. who are originally from Mexico City. That number was 8,000 during the last Mexican presidential election in 2012.

“They are really excited on being part of these elections,” Yuri Beltran, electoral counselor for the Electoral Institute of Mexico City.

Beltran said he traveled to the U.S. several times and spoke at events about the national and local elections taking place in Mexico. He said he met with many Mexican citizens living in the U.S. who continue having strong ties to Mexico.

“I think my country is divided living in two different places – in the United States and in Mexico – but we are the same people, the same nation,” he said. “And we have close ties between the families and the communities.”

This year, voter turnout is expected to surpass that of the 2012 presidential election, when 73 percent of Mexican citizens voted from the U.S.

Beltran said that increase is due in part to Mexico this year allowing its citizens living abroad to register to vote without having to return to the country – the first time it has done that. Mexican citizens were able to register by applying for a voter card in Mexican embassies and consulate offices in the U.S.

“The figures that we will obtain for this election I expect will continue increasing every year, so we will have better numbers every year,” he said.

Mexico will elect a new president on Sunday. Poll numbers project leftist party candidate Andres Manuel Lopéz Obrador will become Mexico’s next head of state. He’s part of the National Regeneration Movement, also known as Morena.

Many refer to Lopéz Obrador as “Amlo.” A victory for him would be significant for a country battling violence and corruption. He would be Mexico’s most left-leaning leader in 80 years.

He holds a sizeable lead over candidates from the country’s two largest political parties. Ricardo Anaya, from the National Action Party, comes in as a far second behind Lopéz Obrador. And José Antonio Meade, from the Institutional Revolutionary Party, comes in third.

The winner will replace incumbent President Enrique Peña Nieto, who is widely unpopular and has criticized for his reluctance to criticize President Donald Trump. He’s ineligible to run for re-election since the president of Mexico cannot serve more than one six-year term.

James Garcia, spokesperson for the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, said there are several reasons why the Mexican presidential election matters for Arizona.

“They’re a country that has intimate ties not just with our economy but with our culture and our society,” he said, adding that Mexico is Arizona’s largest trading partner and the vast majority of Latinos living in Arizona are of Mexican origin.

Garcia said the election might also impact the future of the North American Free Trade Agreement, which is a trade deal between the U.S., Mexico and Canada. The three countries are renegotiating the agreement.

“It’s important for us in terms of jobs here in the United States that we figure out whatever differences we may have over NAFTA,” he said, adding there are millions of jobs in the U.S. that are tied to the agreement.

“Whether or not the two presidents and the leaderships of these two countries can get along is important to the survival of that economic arrangement,” Garcia added. “If we don’t figure that out, there are all sorts of ripple ramifications that are connected to that.”

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Mexicans living in the U.S. take part in Mexico’s presidential election