Mexican Elections 2021: The Battle for Northern Mexico: Border States Control President’s Electoral Power | United States


The symbol of an eagle devouring a snake is familiar from the national flag of Mexico, but during this rally it is on a bright orange version, bearing the caption Movimiento del norte (Northern movement). Standing next to the poster, five candidates say what sets northern Mexico apart from the rest of the country.

We stand on the terrace of a convention center in San Pedro Garza García, an upscale neighborhood in Mexico’s third largest city, Monterrey, from which a row of skyscrapers stretches out on the horizon. This area is the richest in Latin America, according to the rating agency Fitch, with a GDP per capita of 90,000 USD according to figures released in 2019.

“We will never allow those in the center [of the country] to mistreat us, that those in the center tell us what to do, and we certainly will not allow them to interfere with our lands, ”said Samuel García, candidate for governor of the state of Nuevo Léon, a power in the Mexican economy. At 33, García is a key face of the Movimiento Ciudadano (Citizens’ Movement), which has spent the past decade trying to break down the traditional Mexican party system. His wife is popular influencer and businesswoman Mariana Rodríguez, who spreads her message on social media and makes her a little sensation ahead of the legislative elections on June 6. Half of the country’s governorates, its parliament and thousands of local officials will be elected.

Although García caused a sensation, his success also has a lot to do with the revelations that Clara Luz Flores, the candidate for the ruling National Regeneration Movement (Morena), was filmed speaking to NXIVM cult leader Keith Raniere, five years. years ago. Raniere was sentenced last year to 120 years in prison for racketeering, sex trafficking and child pornography. She had always denied that the conversation ever took place, and the band’s exit had caused her popularity to drop after she had conducted the polls for weeks.

Flores was previously a member of the opposition Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), but broke with the formation after Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador reached out to him to offer him the nomination, highlighting his success as former mayor of General Escobedo, also in Monterrey. Metropolitan area.

Simpatizantes de Movimiento Ciudadano durante un evento in Santa Catarina, Nuevo León, el día de hoy.Gladys Serrano

The state of Nuevo León contributes the most to Mexico’s GDP after Mexico City, but the president has long been seen as aloof and cold north. This, combined with the cult leader scandal, means Morena’s chances now look slim to Nuevo Leon. It is not the only border state to support the bleeding of the ruling party. In the state of Sonora, in northwestern Mexico, a local candidate from Movimiento Ciudadano was recently assassinated in a hail of gunfire. The death opened a conversation about the electoral violence that threatens the once assured candidacy of Alfonso Durazo, a former security minister in the current government. Opinion polls in Chihuahua, the third contending border state, do not show a convincing victory for the ruling party, leaving Baja California as the only northern state Morena seems certain of winning.

“Today Movimiento Ciudadano is emerging as the preeminent political force in Nuevo León. We have an irreversible lead, ”said Clemente Castañeda, party leader, referring to García and Luis Donaldo Colosio, party mayor candidate in Monterrey. These demands remain to be seen, as the PRI, led by Adrián de la Garza, remains a force to be reckoned with. Movimiento Ciudadano, which governs only in the state of Jalisco, does not have the basic structures of the older opposition group. Meanwhile, De la Garza and García are under investigation by the Attorney General’s office for separate alleged offenses. De la Garza is accused of buying votes, while García is said to have received illicit contributions to his campaign. Anyone who can win the North, what is clear is that regionalism has become a hot issue and it works both ways. While voters in border states may think Mexico City and López Obrador have turned their backs on them, those in countries further south sometimes see the north as an alternative to the capital’s allure.

Elber Martínez was born in central Hidalgo state 30 years ago. He tried to find a job in Mexico City at the end of 2019, but was unsuccessful and moved to Monterrey instead. Within two days he had found a job as a substitute teacher for third grade children and is now finishing his studies while also working as a waiter. “It’s the best in Mexico. It’s either here or in the United States, ”Martínez said. He cannot vote as he is still registered with his home, but if he had the option, his vote would be cast for García, he said, due to his image as a reformist candidate who understands young people.

López Obrador is not yet halfway through his six-year term, but he has managed to become the center of all political attention

Just as the north recedes from the rest of the country, Morena has redoubled in popularity elsewhere. Even a rape charge did not prevent a ruling party candidate in Guerrero state from receiving the president’s full support and maintaining his popularity. He was subsequently disqualified from the race for other reasons. That said, Movimiento Ciudadano’s hypothetical triumph in Nuevo León would have an impact nationwide, as major secondary opposition looms for the remainder of the current government’s tenure. If PRI wins with Adrián de la Garza, however, he would become the de facto leader of a rambling opposition without some of the personalities who have made the president’s life difficult since his election in 2018.

López Obrador is not yet halfway through his six-year term, but he has managed to become the center of all political attention and free to set the agenda. From the pulpit of his morning press conferences, the president has always delivered a vision of a Mexico divided into adversaries of the “conservative party”, used to describe all critical voices, and its allies. Northern Mexico can now be added to the list of Conservatives. “I hope Morena wins absolutely nothing here to send the message that the north has woken up,” García said.

The feuds between Mexico City and the north are also fully visible in the border state of Tamaulipas, where the ruling party’s national leader has been intimidated by an armed group in the town of Matamoros. Federal and state authorities clashed over the fate of the governor of Tamaulipas, Francisco García Cabeza de Vaca, a member of the National Action Party (PAN). García Cabeza de Vaca was stripped of his official immunity from prosecution weeks ago by the Mexican parliament so that the attorney general’s office could open an investigation into an alleged money laundering scandal. The Tamaulipas state legislature responded by rejecting the decision until a judge orders his arrest. This decision was then stayed by another judge. PAN describes the governor’s investigation as political persecution, while the president urged the justice system to resolve the case as quickly as possible.

The charges revolve around whether Cabeza de Vaca has accumulated undeclared property in Mexico and the United States, and despite evidence gathered by Mexican authorities, other opposition parties have also dismissed the investigation as being a “government-orchestrated political lynching”. For the Mexican president, however, this is another case of corruption of the type he was elected to root out.

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