A leading source for news and analysis about Mexico and the U.S.-Mexican border.
The Institutional Revolutionary Party and Democratic Revolution Party coalitions in Tijuana both held rallies beginning at midnight today (Friday) as the campaign for Mexico's July federal elections began. Meanwhile, National Action Party candidates attended mass at Catholic churches late Thursday night, with one of the masses delivered by a humorous Uruguayan-Mexican priest. All of Mexico's presidential candidates began their campaigns promising change.
PAN presidential candidate Josefina Vázquez Mota had planned to hold her campaign kickoff in Ensenada beginning at 12:01 a.m. Friday, but the PRI had previously reserved the plaza where she hoped to hold her rally. She decided instead to begin her campaign at PAN headquarters in Mexico City. On Friday, she promised to offer daylong schools, instead of the current split session most Mexican schools operate under. With her advertising claiming she was "different" (from President Felipe Calderón), she took a tour of her childhood, from the home where she was born, to the school she attended, to the Puebla beginnings of her parents. Story in Frontera (PDF).
The PRI rally included live music from a stage on Avenida Revolución and Eighth Street in Tijuana beginning around 9 p.m. Thursday. Shortly after midnight, video screens (such as the one at left) cut to the speech of PRI presidential candidate Enrique Peña Nieto in Guadalajara, a recent PAN stronghold. "Good morning, Mexico," said Peña Nieto, who has a wide lead in the polls. His speech was broadcast at other PRI rallies across the country; when he mentioned that Baja California was one of the places it was being broadcast, he got perhaps his greatest applause of the night from the more than 1,000 who hung around after the music to hear his speech in Tijuana. He outlined a number of promises to the Mexican people. These included a vow to move 15 million people out of their current level of poverty and cut the number of federal deputies by 100. He also undercut a strong PAN weapon against his party, the PRI'shistorical graft, by promising to institute an anti-corruption commission if elected.
Peña Nieto's main promises were:
1. Recuperate peace and freedom for Mexicans. He said Mexico was wounded, referring to the drug war.
2. An inclusive Mexico without poverty.
3. More education, and with quality, for all Mexicans. He said he would work to guarantee free public education through high school (something Congress voted to institute by 2022) and increase funding of higher education.
4. Economic growth to generate more and better jobs for all Mexicans. He said he would try to triple the economic growth of the last decade.
5. Return Mexico to a position of world leadership it could be proud of.
He also promised a metropolitan train system for Guadalajara. Story, Frontera (PDF).
At 10 p.m. Thursday, in the Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe church across from City Hall, around 100 PANistas gathered for mass. In attendance were two PAN Chamber of Deputies candidates, Alfa Peñaloza (right) of District 6 and Juan Manuel Gastélum (left) in District 5. Two other PAN candidates, Javier Castañeda and Ruth Hernández, were to have attended mass in their home districts. Former Mayor Kiko Vega, mayor from 1998-2001, said having PANistas attend mass en masse at the start of political campaigns has become a PAN tradition in Tijuana. The mass was delivered by Ernesto Popelka, a Jesuit from Uruguay who came to Tijuana 10 years ago. His discourse was quite humorous. Gastélum, asked afterward who the priest was, said he did not know but that he sure liked him. On Friday morning, Peñaloza and other PAN candidates handed out campaign propaganda at the border. Story, Frontera (PDF).
The PRD also held a rally at midnight. Shortly before 10 p.m., Marcos Salaiza, state coordinator for PRD Senate candidate Marco Antonio Blásquez, showed up to buy a floral arrangement at the Jardín Galería Floral. He said the PRD did well, albeit finishing in third place, in the 2006 Senate election in Baja California in large part because of PRD presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador's strong showing. Salaiza still had confidence that López Obrador, now in third place in the polls, would come from behind to win July 1. Blásquez also made a campaign appearance Friday at the Lomas Taurinas neighborhood plaza commemorating the 1994 assassination of PRI presidential candidate Luis Donaldo Colosio there. Story, Frontera (PDF).
El Mexicano newspaper had a late press run to get the PRI and PRD rallies in the paper, both on the front page Friday. The paper's operator, union leader Eligio Valencia, is one of the party's two Senate candidates for Baja California. He was the only candidate to give a speech; the political portion of the rally lasted 45 minutes, including Peña Nieto's speech. Front page story (PDF). Jump.
In photo, from left: PRI Senate candidate Nancy Sánchez of Mexicali, state PRI leader René Mendivil, Senate candidate Eligio Valencia, Mayor Carlos Bustamante and District 6 candidate Chris López.
Other campaign coverage: Frontera, Page 7, Saturday.
People at the PRI rally in Tijuana on Friday morning were asked to shine a light for hope and change. Some had flashlights and many used their cellphones. Also see photo page, El Mexicano (PDF).