The recent election in Mexico was significant for its many milestones: a historically high voter turnout and the election of Andrés Manuel López Obrador, known as AMLO, as president of Mexico from the leftist-leaning National Regeneration Movement or ...
The recent election in Mexico was significant for its many milestones: a historically high voter turnout and the election of Andrés Manuel López Obrador, known as AMLO, as president of Mexico from the leftist-leaning National Regeneration Movement or MORENA, a political party that didn't exist until four years ago. As representatives of the U.S. Mexico Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Irving-Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce, we represented the only U.S. chamber certified as official election observers, and thus had front row seats to this historic event.
On election day, we traveled to three states to observe the election, the Ciudad de México, Morelos, and the State of Mexico. Voters were focused on three issues in this landmark race: security, corruption and poverty, and they were voting to hold their candidates accountable for change. Mexico traditionally has a high voter turnout. Out of 89 million registered voters, approximately 64 percent voted (compared to 58 percent in the 2016 U.S. presidential election).
There are many things Americans would appreciate about the Mexican presidential election. Campaigning is limited to 90 days. No campaigning is allowed three days before election day, and the sale of alcohol is banned 24 hours before the election. Exit polling is conducted but not reported until all polls are closed. The transition takes five months to ensure a smooth handover, and the president serves a single six-year term with no re-election.
The voters select their candidates with colored ballots representing the color of each political party, because many of the indigenous peoples of Mexico cannot read or speak Spanish. They speak their own native languages. There were no electronic voting machines, and millions of ballots were counted by hand, one by one.
There were long lines of voters waiting everywhere. When some special election sites ran out of ballots, peaceful protesters chanted, "We want to vote." When the polls closed at 6 p.m., we witnessed a woman sobbing and pleading to be allowed to vote, and we were struck by how emotional and important it was to her and everyone we saw to participate in the political process.
In Mexico elections are a family affair on Sunday, with voters bringing their children with them to the polling sites. On election night, tens of thousands of voters filled Mexico City's Plaza de la Constitución to celebrate the orderly transition of power.
In another unprecedented move, López Obrador announced his cabinet choices six months prior to the election. We found these cabinet officials to be more accessible than many in the U.S. We met with nominated Secretary of Economy Graciela Marquez Colin, who appeared eager to establish contact and a relationship with the Texas business community.
Our relationship with Mexico is critical to the Texas economy. We need economic integration that allows supply chains to flow unimpeded across the border to each country's advantage. Early communication between President Donald Trump and López Obrador were positive and respectful.
We were privileged to witness a remarkable and enviable display of citizenship by the Mexican people. It's a reminder that we are allies with our neighbor to the south, and we must encourage public policies in both our countries that support our economies.
Al Zapanta is president of the U.S. Mexico Chamber of Commerce and an Irving City councilman.
Beth A. Bowman is chief executive of the Greater Irving-Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce and Irving Economic Development Partnership. She is a member of the U.S. Mexico Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.
They wrote this column for The Dallas Morning News.
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