Sunday, July 1, 2012

Mexico City: A Red Island in Mexico

Mexico City or the Federal District of Mexico is a contradiction in that Latin American country. It allows abortion on request, a limited form of euthanasia and same sex marriage. It is largely free of the drug violence and other crime rates have also gone down. From 1997, the mayor and the local legislature were elected directly and both institutions had been controlled by the left-wing Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD). They are bound to continue that control for yet another six years despite the fortunes of the party has gone down in many parts of the country. The Catholics have vehemently criticized the Mexico City government for the liberal laws they have introduced, sometimes alleging that the PRD is doing more damage than the drug cartels. Despite this, Mexico City is a red island among the largely Catholic country.

Between 2006-2012, the Head of Government of the Federal District and therefore the focus of the criticism of the Catholic Church, was Marcelo Ebrard. He can not run for a second term according to Mexican election laws. Instead the PRD candidate for the July 1, 2012 mayoral election is the Attorney General of the Federal District, Miguel Angel Mancera Espinosa. Three other candidates, all women, are contesting against him, but he is leading the polls by a staggering margin. He is expected to gain around 70% of the votes, leading all others by more than 50%

His three challengers include a former governor of Tlaxcala, Beatrice Paredes of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) who came third with just over 20% of the vote in the Mexico City election six years ago. She is now 57 years old and was the governor of Tlaxcala from 1987-1992, becoming only the second Mexican woman to be a governor of a State. Later, she also served as a president of her PRI party.

The National Action Party (PAN) candidate for mayor is Isabel Miranda de Wallace, a 61 year old social activist. An educator by profession, she became a social activist in 2005 after her son was abducted. She created an organization "Alto al secuestro" ("Stop Kidnappings") and in 2012 earned the National Human Rights Prize. Meanwhile, the New Alliance Party candidate for mayor is a former legislator, Rosario Guerra Diaz.

As the Attorney General of the Federal District from 2008 to early 2012, Mancera can boast of the achievement in reducing the crime rate of the city. The recent shootout at the Mexico City airport between the police and members of the drug cartels was a rarity in the city. Mexico City has become a refuge for those seeking safety from violence.

The biggest challenge facing Mancera if he is elected as expected will be to preserve the safe haven in Mexico City. Around 13,000 security cameras monitor the city and the police force has been effectively led. Despite this, worrisome signs are seen here and there. It is alleged that several drug lords reside within the fancy neighborhoods in the City. On the other hand, these drug lords may not want to become too conspicuous by expanding their work into the city where they live peacefully themselves. It is too early to predict the future of Mexico City under Mancera but it is apparent that he will do his best to preserve what has been achieved during the past 15 years under the PRD in the largest capital city in Central America.

Image: Dennis Mojado, Evening rush hour in the Zocalo district of Mexico City.

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