Migrants and a crucial Mexican election

Frontera NorteSur

In the closing days of the campaign for the key July 3 gubernatorial election in Mexico’s most populated state, migration reemerged as one of the local issues. At a June 23 meeting in the Mexico state town of Tonatico, center-left candidate Alejandro Encinas Rodriguez agreed to a five-point action plan on migrant-related issues if he is elected governor.

According to Encinas, 39,000 people leave Mexico state every year for the United States and other countries. The migrant outflow now constitutes eight percent of the state’s population, or more than 1.1 million people, said the candidate for the Let’s Do More Coalition, a political front that brings together Encinas’  PRD party with the smaller PT and Convergencia parties.

A former mayor of Mexico City and longtime PRD congressional leader, Encinas vowed to establish a state secretariat of migrant affairs; push a “very aggressive” job creation policy; assist people who are forced to migrate with acquiring visas and passports; create publicly-owned remittance cashing services to counter the “very high” commissions charged by private firms; and guarantee the rights of Central American migrants who pass through Mexico state on the infamous train known as “The Beast.”

Encinas criticized rival candidate Eruviel Avila of the United for You Coalition (PRI, PANAL, PVEM) for closing a migrant shelter when the latter became mayor of the city of Ecatepec.

At a June 26 closing rally attended by 20,000 supporters, Encinas reiterated the connection between poverty, joblessness and migration.

“That’s why we want to finish with the hegemony of the PRI, which has forgotten those most in need,” Encinas said.

Next Sunday’s election is widely viewed as a harbinger for the 2012 presidential election, with the results expected to either boost or deflate the aspirations of outgoing Mexico state Governor Enrique Pena Nieto of the PRI, as well as those of his principal rival, left opposition leader Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

Several recent polls show the PRI’s well-financed Avila with a substantial lead over Encinas. Luis Felipe Bravo Mena of President Felipe Calderon’s PAN party polls a distant third. On Monday, June 27, representatives of Encinas’ coalition petitioned Mexico’s high electoral court to cancel Avila’s candidacy,  alleging
violations of campaign rules and spending limitations.

Six days before voters cast their ballots, the political atmosphere was further complicated by heavy flooding that affected hundreds of homes in the important cities of Ecatepec and Ciudad Nezahualcoyotl. Contiguous to the national capital of Mexico City, the state of Mexico is home to an estimated 13 percent of the country’s registered voters.

Sources: El Diario de El Paso/Juarez, June 27, 2011. El Universal, June 27, 2011. El Sur/Agencia Reforma, June 27, 2011. Article by Irma Valadez and Sandra Garcia. Televisa, June 26, 2011. La Jornada, June 23 and 27, 2011. Articles by Rene Ramon,  Alma Munoz, Javier Salinas Cesareo and Rene Ramon Alvarado.

Frontera NorteSur: on-line, U.S.-Mexico border news
Center for Latin American and Border Studies
New Mexico State University
Las Cruces, New Mexico

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