The future of Mexico was on the line on Sunday 1st July, as millions of Mexicans turned out to vote for their next president, the person who would hopefully have the answer to the drug war that had so far left 60,000 people dead, the person who would be the change Mexico so badly needs. It was Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the PRD candidate who had narrowly lost the last presidential election to Felipe Calderón and who seemed to be racking up popularity points among Mexico’s new youth movement, against Enrique Peña Nieto, the young, handsome candidate of the PRI who promised no return to the past: 72 years of PRI accused corruption and secrecy.
On Monday, after a record turnout at the polls, Enrique Peña Nieto grabbed the presidency with 38% of the votes, bringing PRI back into power after 12 years. The results left many questioning the accuracy of the voting process, including López Obrador himself, who has yet to concede to Peña Nieto. Still, Mexicans are left to wonder what the future brings, if the new PRI really has changed, and if Peña Nieto will follow through on his word to “not return to the past”.
Photos by Jen Michalski
Alejandra Ponce De Leon, 23, Public Relations, Recoleta (from Ciudad Juárez, Mexico)
I don’t think [Peña Nieto will make good his promise to "not go back to the past"] because he has the interest of the party and the party basically owns Mexico. In the past PRI, everyone was OK with the government. Everything was kept in secret. The war with drugs was not dangerous as it is now. So probably we’re going to go back to the same because now it’s so dangerous. They want to make Mexico better. I think it’s going to be the same as the past governments of PRI. Of course he can’t say he won’t make deals (with drug lords) in public but I think he’s going to again divide the territory to stop the violence innocent people have to go through. I think he’s a good image for Mexico but that’s it. Behind him there’s a lot of people, companies and police that want benefits. I hope the violence relaxes a bit, because Juárez where I live, it’s one of the most dangerous cities in Mexico. I hope he does something.
Pato Musich, 25, Student, Palermo
As an Argentine I know what corrupt governments are able to do. They have no problem dealing with narcos, corrupt organisations, etc. People know the kind of politicians and reputations that come from a certain party. They all make big promises that are never fulfilled. That is why I think a country that is facing serious problems with the nacrotraffic, as Mexico today, needs a change, a big change. Something different than what they have had in the last decades. It’s hard to think that a party like PRI that had power for 72 years and was under the constant accusation of corruption, will change something in Mexico. Mexico needs transparent people. I’m not saying Peña Nieto is a corrupt politician, I just doubt the people that he will be surrounded by. Mexicans should understand that their only problem right now is narcotraffic, no other solutions are needed besides taking narcos out of the country.
Patricia Espinosa Guerrero, 54, Artist, Palermo (from Tijuana, Mexico)
Of course not, [I don't think Peña Nieto will keep his word]. I don’t know, but I’m very afraid of him… all of the people behind him. It’s very sad for us to have PRI again. I’m very, very disappointed about the elections. Very, very disappointed about the results. For many years I lived under the PRI, and when the PAN came in, we said “oh finally, we’ll get rid of these people”. But no, we didn’t. The same people are back. I’ve been living here for ten years. I don’t trust him or these people because I don’t think they can change. They just see their own convenience and money. They are very dissonant. The narco war is devastating Mexico. He has a big challenge. There are many eyes on him. I don’t think he’s prepared to do it. But the people who are supporting him, I hope they can guide him.
Bain Craddock, 25, Student, Palermo
It is hard for me to believe that the PRI has completely severed all ties to the narco world. I expect a return to the old PRI tactics to quell the violence but with a public showing of continued hard line tactics against the drug cartels. But, only time will tell. It will be interesting to see if Peña Nieto really is the change he says he is.