The calls for peaceful elections by the president of Mexico and the political parties yesterday did not have the expected effect, perhaps with more enthusiasm than with reality. There were several shootings. In Oaxaca and Chiapas the elections were paralyzed, in Tijuana two people threw heads and other human remains at each polling station, there were multiple thefts of ballots by armed groups and last night it was rumored that five officials had been killed while transporting official material.
The data supplied at noon pointed to a low participation, which would coincide with the forecast of the authorities, which had set the bar for a total influx slightly above 50%. Of the entire census, 93 million Mexicans were called to mega-elections, but it was taken for granted that the influence of local caciquismo and drug cartels would act as a brake, especially in rural areas and indigenous communities.
Fear of the coronavirus and bullets seems to have intimidated tens of thousands of voters in this way, despite the fact that the president, Manuel Andrés López Obrador, made an effort until the very morning to ask the population to come “without fear and in peace” to comply with your electoral right. Covid-19, which until Saturday has claimed the lives of 228,754 people and produced 2.4 million infections, is an important factor for López Obrador’s party, National Regeneration Movement (Morena). The epidemic has sharply polarized the population between the detractors of government management – Mexico is the fourth country most affected by the pandemic in the world – and those who think that the president has taken the reins of the catastrophe in recent months and promoted the decisive vaccination plan, with almost 34 million doses applied until the end of May.
However, there has been too much blood spilled in the Central American campaign and pre-campaign for the voter to go out on the streets with confidence yesterday. There have been 91 assassinated candidates, officials and positions – five of them in the last fortnight – and hundreds of assaults, threats, and burning of houses and vehicles.
Fire works well for stampedes. In the early hours of the morning dozens of booths had already been burned. A group of individuals broke into a school in the Lázaro Cárdenas neighborhood, in the State of Mexico, and devastated the facilities after hitting those responsible for the tables and the voters who were waiting to cast their ballot. In Lagunas (Oaxaca) and Baja California the same thing happened. In no case did the Army or the Police attend.
One of the most rugged scenes was recorded in two schools in Tijuana, where two people threw human remains, including the heads of two men. Then they fled. The voting tables quickly emptied.
Throughout the day the authorities reported several more, but without specifying the circumstances or the possible victims. The first happened at dawn when a group of hit men shot at Morena’s headquarters in Mexicalia, whose facade was riddled with bullets. The Police found 32 shells.
Apart from the violence, the electoral appointment will put the effective power of López Obrador on the balance. Although it is not a presidential one, almost 22,000 intermediate positions are elected, among them the governors of 15 states, half a thousand members of the House of Representatives, deputies and some 18,000 local positions among mayors, councilors and attorneys. That is to say, the political skeleton of Mexico is practically chosen and the greater or lesser capacity of the Government will depend on its composition.
For example, one of the great points of interest is to know if Morena manages to retain the absolute majority in the Chamber of Deputies – essential for the president to conclude his plan to reform the country – and a notable support in the fifteen states that elect governor, an objective that seems more questioned. He faces the alliance between the PRI, the PAN and the PDR, which make up the great opposition bloc. Separately they would not possibly have a chance against Morena, but their union favors a staunch opposition. The rest of the candidates belong to shorter acronyms.
The president has a very broad power in this country, where the Constitution eliminated the position of vice president in 1917. Obrador voted early, around nine in the morning, accompanied by his wife, Beatriz Gutiérrez Müller. “Long live democracy,” he said after leaving school. Being the largest elections ever held in Mexico, with the presence of some 20,000 observers, the total results are not expected until the middle of this week.