Arts, Culture & Media

A Mexican Voter Who Favors Continuity

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PAN supporter Olga Velazquez Villa (Photo: Myles Estey)

Mexicans will elect a new president on Sunday.

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The vote could mark the return to power of the Institutional Revolutionary Party or PRI. It ran Mexico with an authoritarian hand from 1929 to 2000.

The PRI is still powerful, and its candidate Enrique Peña Nieto is leading in the polls. His main opponent is the populist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

This is his second attempt to win the presidency, after a very narrow and controversial loss six years ago.

Running third is Josefina Vazquez Mota of the ruling National Action Party – or PAN. She's hoping to become Mexico's first woman president.

Olga Velazquez Villa is 23, and from the northern Mexican state of Coahuila, but now lives in Mexico City and works in telecommunications.

She comes from a family that supported the PAN long before the party ended seven decades of PRI rule with Vicente Fox's victory in 2000.

She says she likes what the PAN and Vazquez Mota stand for.

"First of all, the party's values, which are humanist, democratic, and Christian," Velazquez said. "I agree with those principles. With regards to Josefina, I like her proposals on how to improve education and security. On education, she plans to open 150 universities. I agree with that, because what Mexico needs to advance IS education: people who are well prepared, and who demand that our candidate keep the promises that he or she makes."

Velazquez wants a president willing to take on the PRI dominated teacher's unions — to put an end to teachers who don't show up to work and to improve standards. She believes Vazquez Mota would do that.

And as far as security is concerned, Velazquez wants continuity. She admits that President Felipe Calderon's war on drugs hasn't been perfect. But she wants to stick with the PAN strategy.

"I think it was good to take on the drug traffickers, because, well, the previous party, the PRI, just negotiated with the narcos," she said. "I'm from Torreon, where there's a lot of violence, and yeah, I know how they kill innocent people. So why negotiate with people that keep attacking you and threatening your security? Better to take them head on, and yeah, fight. Maybe things have gotten out of control, and out of Felipe Calderon's hands, but I think it was the right move to confront the narcos, and stop negotiating."

Velazquez also thinks Josefina Vazquez Mota could build on Calderon's strategy, by improving anti-drug cooperation with the United States. She doesn't trust the other candidates to make the right choices in this fight.

"I'm scared by the thought of Peña Nieto getting the presidency. And I just don't know about Lopez Obrador. We don't know what either would do if they controlled the country. Would they fulfill their promises, or would they turn out like Chavez, or something. Honestly, I worry if either of those two win," she said.

Many analysts think the winner will be determined by how young Mexicans vote, and which party does a better job convincing people who would normally not vote to turn out on election day.

Velazquez sees both these groups in her daily life.

"Well, most of my friends will vote, mostly for the PAN. But at work, the majority don't support a party, they're not interested in politics, it just doesn't matter to them who governs — it's all the same," Velazquez said.

Olga Velazquez does care. And she doesn't trust the polls — which show her candidate in third place. She envisions a victory for Josefina Vazquez Mota on July 1st.

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