On my first day in Mexico City, I was greeted by vibrant colors decorating its walls, parks, and storefronts. These vivid hues and varying shades decorated what seemed to be a collective celebration put on by the people of Mexico. It wasn’t until the end of our trip learning about and experiencing Mexican culture and politics that I was able to fully determine what this celebration was for: the enduring beauty, hope, and strength of the Mexican spirit. Being able to witness how this energy played a role in the election on July 1st was instrumental to my understanding of Mexican politics and what we saw throughout our stay in Mexico City and León. One of my favorite moments of the trip that really highlighted this energy was when we went to a rally in León put on by the PAN (National Action Party). León, and more broadly the state of Guanajuato, is a stronghold for the PAN as many voters there are conservative Catholics, specifically socially conservative Catholics. As such, the PAN’s platform is known for being anti-LGBTQ+ rights and anti-choice. However, at the rally there was a group of about three people waving a massive pride flag above the PAN flags. We were able to talk to them about their demonstration and they shared with us that they were not there to protest the PAN itself, but to make space for LGBTQ+ folks within the party. They expressed that they support the PAN and its presidential candidate, Anaya, and they wanted to see the PAN support them in turn. I was absolutely awestruck by their bravery and courage to represent themselves and their community in an overwhelmingly unwelcoming space. For me, this instance captured the spirit of Mexico and showed the vitality of the Mexican people who work to make their country better, safer, and stronger every day. Seeing these three people gave me a lot of hope for the future of Mexico and the world since our various struggles for justice are all connected.
A lot of Mexican voters, especially young people and residents of Mexico City, have also found hope in the campaign and now upcoming presidency of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) and the political party he founded six years ago, Morena. AMLO was a candidate of big promises and open arms—many have compared him to Senator Bernie Sanders. His platform of ending corruption and poverty in Mexico is very enticing for a country knee-deep in scandals, violence, and dirty money, and with its poverty rate ranging between 40-50%. On the surface level, AMLO’s platform is full of great change and holds a lot of promise for Mexico. However, once you push past these big promises and look at the rest of his platform, or lack thereof, and his policy proposals, there isn’t much to look at. He failed to answer how he was going to meet his promise of not raising taxes while improving social services and ending poverty, as well as how he was going to eliminate corruption beyond taking a look at things. AMLO has also remained incredibly quiet on LGBTQ+ and indigenous rights and has suggested abortion rights be put to a general vote.Social issues may not be a dealbreaker for many voters in Mexico who have experienced violence from drug dealers and cartels firsthand, but they significantly impact quality of life and the general livelihood of the Mexican people. I hope that during his presidency AMLO proves himself to be not only a leftist who can begin tackling corruption and poverty in Mexico, but also a progressive who will fight for all Mexicans. Even if he happens to fail, I believe the spirit and celebration of the Mexican people will persist and go on to see even brighter days. ¡Viva México!