While so much national interest and international intrigue is invested in the U.S. presidential election Nov. 6, Mexicans also are contemplating their choices for a leader and will decide July 1.
Mexico may also beat the United States to having a female president. Josefina Vazquez-Mota, who visited Santa Ana on Saturday, seeks her country's top political post. The concurrent electioneering within the neighboring countries should stoke further debate about diplomatic relations, immigration and drug policy.
Unlike the four-year terms of the American presidency, Mexican presidents serve six-year terms — thus every 12 years the two country's presidential elections coincide; 2012 is one of those years. This concurrence may lead to campaign issues seeping from one country to another.
Candidates on both sides of the border seem to understand the need to address their foreign counterparts and constituencies. Acknowledging this, at least tacitly, Vice President Joe Biden traveled last week to meet with three major-party candidates for president of Mexico: Vazquez-Mota of President Felipe Calderon's National Action Party, Enrique Pena Nieto of the Institutional Revolutionary Party and Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of the Democratic Revolutionary Party.
Likewise, on a diplomatic mission of her own, Vazquez-Mota visited California, home to one of the largest Mexican populations outside Mexico. She spoke Saturday to roughly 150 attendees at an event hosted by the Hispanic 100, a California-based organization devoted to strengthening political and economic leadership for Latinos in the United States.
Vazquez-Mota was introduced by Rosario Marin, who was appointed by President George W. Bush as the first Mexican-born U.S. treasurer. Marin explained, "Other women have run for president in Mexico in the past but none with a major party's backing like this."
Vazquez-Mota, speaking in Spanish, avoided making an explicit campaign speech as Mexican campaign laws have strict rules against candidates making campaign speeches until closer to the July 1 election, she said. Her speech was mostly a personal introduction to the assembled political and business leaders. She mentioned her two terms as a congresswoman in Mexico and the campaign manager for Calderon's successful bid for the presidency. She also served as the Mexican equivalent of the federal secretary of education, where she reportedly clashed with the bosses of the country's teachers unions.
REPRINTED FROM THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER