Mexican citizens will head to the polls Sunday to elect a new president.
They will chose between PRI candidate Enrique Peña Nieto, the left wing Democratic Revolution candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador, National Action Party candidate and former Vincente Fox education official Josefina Vázquez Mota, and New Alliance Party Candidate Gabriel Quadri de la Torre.
The new president will take over a country whose northern states have suffered an unprecedented level of violence since the beginning of PAN President Felipe Calderón’s crackdown on the drug cartels. And Texas’ proximity to the border, large immigrant population and strong economic ties to Mexico has many paying attention to the results.
Chris Wilson, an associate at the Mexico Institute at the Wilson Center, says the candidates have expressed an interest in de-militarizing the conflict.
“All of the candidates have talked about moving to a slightly more public security based approach,” he says. “Rather than have the focus be fighting the cartels, fighting the criminal organizations and dismantling them. The focus would be on protecting citizens.”
Candidates Peña Nieto and Mota have mentioned a strengthened national police force as a solution while Obrador would like to focus on “root causes” of violence such as economic inequality and joblessness.
Scott Stewart, vice-president of tactical intelligence at Stratfor is less optimistic about a decrease in violence on the Texas-Mexico border and believes many of the promises to end military action in Northern Mexico ignore facts on the ground. “These realities are going to force the president to respond to them.”
Stewart states that a premature extraction of military forces put average citizens in the border region at risk.
As far as cartel activity in Texas, Stewart says the state is critical to cartel supply lines as the Laredo border crossing and the Interstate 35 corridor are primary route for moving narcotics and equipment. The cartels have limited violence north of the border as they fear swift reprisal from U.S. law enforcement.
The Mexican President will take office December 1, 2012