Philadelphia-area voters could play a role in Mexico election

Obed Arango says presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador is the best choice for change in Mexico.

Obed Arango says presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador is the best choice for change in Mexico.

Mexicans in the greater Philadelphia area are keeping a close eye on the World Cup — and on their country’s national elections. On Sunday, lines will form throughout Mexico as people cast their ballots in the presidential elections. Many Mexican immigrants who live in the Philadelphia region have already voted.

This year, the Mexican government made it somewhat easier to cast an absentee vote. U.S.-based immigrants were able to apply for a voter credential and receive a voter packet. After making their choice, they mailed their votes back to Mexico. The government spent close to $200 for each vote abroad, compared with $6 for each vote in Mexico.

In 2014, many in the U.S.-based Mexican community were alarmed by the growing violence back home. Social media groups formed on platforms such as WhatsApp and Facebook to discuss politics and candidates for president after incumbent Enrique Peña Nieto completed his term in office.

One businessman in his 50s, who has lived in Delaware since 1995, preferred to remain anonymous, said he voted for front-runner Andrés Manuel López Obrador. “I decided to register and vote with the hope that the general situation of the country will change.”

Obed Arango, who teaches anthropology at Montgomery County Community College and Penn, also chose López Obrador as his country’s best option for “a democratic left where the poor are first.”

López Obrador has run for office three times, and his current message focuses on what he calls the “people’s struggle” against corruption and crime. The candidate has been mobbed by supporters on the campaign trail and is polling ahead as the election nears.

Ana Ronzel, a community organizer from North Jersey, voted for José Antonio Meade. Even with López Obrador ahead, she said she is confident that her candidate is going to win.

“He is the most prepared, and the polls do not reflect our forces,” Ronzel said.

Ricardo Anaya and Jaime Rodríguez Calderón round out the four-man race. Margarita Zavala withdrew as a candidate in May.

The election season has been violent. More than 120 candidates, most running for local offices, have been murdered. That level of violence has shaken the faith of some absentee voters.

Maria, who has lived in South Philadelphia for almost two decades, said she did not take advantage of an absentee ballot. She didn’t believe her vote counted when she lived in Mexico, and she said a vote sent from Philadelphia would be considered trash.

“I don’t believe in the government with the [ruling party] in power. They have a lot of money and skill in election fraud,” Maria said.

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