Houstonians react to Mexico's election results

July 2, 2012 3:36:00 PM PDT
Mexican nationals in the Houston area have been glued to their TV sets watching the developments of the elections. And US officials are paying close attention, as well, knowing what happens across the border can have a big impact here.

People who watched the Mexican presidential election over the weekend seem to be just as split over the results as Mexican voters. Enrique Pena Nieto received the largest percentage of the vote but not the majority.

It was business as usual outside the Mexican consulate on Monday. Maria Leon and her daughter, Victoria, were preparing for a trip to Mexico this week.

But Leon, a Mexican citizen who's lived here since 1979, watched the presidential election in the country of her birth with interest over the weekend.

Her candidate did not win. Iinstead, Pena Nieto took the largest percentage of the vote and in December, he will put the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, back in power.

"The perfect one-party dictatorship that lasted from the 30's through 2000 is now back," said Mark Jones, head of the political science department at Rice University.

Jones says Pena Nieto was able to overcome his party's history of corruption with the promise of a more open government and with his image.

"He's photogenic, charismatic, well-spoken, has a good common touch," Jones said.

But it may have come down to corruption versus the drug violence that exploded under the administration of current President Felipe Calderon, says community activist Maria Jimenez.

"I think for many Mexicans that voted for the PRI that was in the back of their mind that this didn't happen when the PRI was in power," Jimenez said.

As for Leon, she hopes Pena Nieto brings peace to Mexico.

"We want the violence to be not that much anymore," Leon said.

The Mexican president-elect has a checkered past, including children out of wedlock and a first wife who died under unusual circumstances.


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