While Americans are embroiled in discussions of the various implications of this year’s presidential contest, very few of them are weighing the significance of a presidential election that will take place tomorrow just across the southern border of these United States. The candidates of three major parties are vying for the presidency of Mexico, and no matter which candidate wins, he — or she — will face the task of rebuilding a nation devastated by years of war and economic crisis.
Since 2006, the reign of Felipe Calderon has been defined by the "drug war" that he launched in December of that year against Mexico’s powerful drug cartels. Earlier this week the world was given another poignant reminder of the brutality of the struggle between the government and the cartels — and the blurring of the line between those two parties — when a shootout in the Mexico City International Airport left three federal police officers dead. The confrontation began when drug smugglers — who were also federal police officers — were allegedly caught seeking to transport cocaine. As reported previously for The New American, the government later referred to the incident as a "quarrel," and failed to mention the casualties, even as the public was assured that the airlines “are carrying on normally and this situation does not in any way affect operations” — a clear example of the surreality of the reigning situation in Mexico.
The Mexican electorate has been presented with candidates who invite comparison to those of current and past elections north of the border. The leading candidate is Enrique Pena Nieto (photo) of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which ruled Mexico from 1929 until 2000, when the more "conservative" National Action Party (PAN) came to power. During the years of its stranglehold on Mexican politics, the actions of the PRI came to be characterized by a record that alienated a significant portion of the electorate; as NNDB has summarized it, the PRI came to “symbolize corruption, electoral fraud, and privatization of previously nationalized industries.”
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Photo of Enrique Pena Nieto: AP Images