I am glad the 2012 presidential race in Mexico has ended. It was exhausting and irritating in a way different from past elections. It was marred by candidate supporters insulting each other, mindless arguments and baseless comments, general misunderstanding and the total absence of reasonable proposals.
Perhaps most notorious were the candidates’ repressive attitudes toward human rights and gender issues. The only candidate with a decent position was New Alliance Party candidate, Gabriel Quadri, who supported women's reproductive choice; and promised to guarantee marriage equality for LGBT people in Mexico. Unfortunately Quadri also intended to privatize prisons—and had little chance of winning the election.
Enrique Pena Nieto, who has consistently scored the highest in opinion polls and represents the Institutional Revolutionary Party, which ruled Mexico for 71 years until 2000, ignores these issues altogether. The State of Mexico, which he governed from 2005 to 2011, has seen the most dramatic increase in femicides in the country, surpassing even the infamous Ciudad Juarez. The lack of police investigation allowed most perpetrators of these crimes to enjoy full impunity.
Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who represents leftist parties, said on several occasions that if people consider gender issues important, specifically abortion and gay marriage, he would submit the topics to a referendum. The idea of letting majority votes guide human rights is troubling, given that no political system should jeopardize the basic rights of people.
Josefina Vazquez Mota, the National Action Party candidate, tried to use biology to convince women to vote for her because her gender gave her a better understanding of their needs. Mota's claims were somewhat discordant, given that she does not support women's reproductive choice and same sex marriage. However, her views are not atypical for her political party, which is Mexico's preeminently conservative, known to curtail reproductive choice in several states and oppose gay rights.
Additionally, although Mota said she was against criminalizing women who sought abortions, the National Action Party has tried to pass laws that would imprison women for terminating pregnancies. Current laws in certain states can force victims of sexual assault to carry to term, even when their young age demands different. In 2012 Mexico was aghast with the case of an 11-year-old girl who had a baby after her stepfather had raped her. The conservative party's efforts to control women's civil liberties also include attempts to ban short skirts and kissing from public areas.
In all cases the presidential candidates seemed to believe that abortion and gay marriage are the only pressing gender issues in Mexico. None bothered to craft a feasible agenda that would treat current inefficiencies, such as the scarcity of health clinics for women; and fewer mentioned implementing a gender inclusive plan in the nation's economic budget. Regrettably, all candidates bypassed any discussion about the poor representation of women in media or government; and the desperately needed effort to educate people about the equally important humanity of LGBT people. Finally, the election fanfare left single women who are not mothers beyond even minimal acknowledgment (surely a plus for Mota, whose validity of women seems to depend on production of offspring).
Mexicans are not people who vote based on a single issue, but when it comes to reproductive choice and the right to build a family with a loving partner—independently of gender status—we stand our ground. Unfortunately, ours is one built on a political landscape of loose sediment, not capable of supporting women and LGBT people.
Yali Noriega prepared this text with assistance from e-feminist staff.