It’s Election Day in Mexico and at the border with the U.S., the traffic is coming back into the country.
CGTN’s Alasdair Baverstock reports from Tijuana alongside the voters at Mexico’s northern border, where the local population has its political vision split by a border wall.
At the San Ysidro international border in Tijuana, thousands of voters with dual nationality crossed into Mexico to cast their votes in the presidential race.
“I drove all the way from Los Angeles to vote,” said Jorge Parra, who got up at 6am to make the long drive down to his home country. “I did it to make possible a good change for my people.”
“I just crossed the border from San Diego to Tijuana to vote,” said Gonzalo Cortes, who was voting just five blocks from the US border line.
Tijuana’s border with the United States is the busiest international crossing in the western hemisphere and for many dual-nationality voters, the forced nature of the cross-border life is their primary reason to vote.
“The people from San Diego they want to bring more work, more jobs, better pay, and better salary, you know?”, Gonzalo told CGTN. “If the people had better pay, they aren’t going to cross the border to the United States, they want to stay here, you know, because they want to feed their families.
Ahead of the vote, frontrunner Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador was leading by 18 points in the pre-election polls. The leftist firebrand and former mayor of Mexico City was projected to win by an historic landslide.
Yet in Tijuana, it isn’t just cross border voters who are having their say. Another group of Baja, California residents is watching closely, in a state where over 33 percent of America’s deportations are conducted.
Situated at the U.S.- Mexico border, Tijuana is also home to many U.S. deportees. They are a community that counts themselves among Mexico’s most marginalized, and for many of them, it will be their first time voting in an election.
“Right now, when they see our votes, they see our names and they look up who we are, and they can see, ok, this is a deportee vote,” said Luis Rivera, a deportee who says he wants to see his fellow deportees involved in the democratic process.
“We took the time to get up, think about our city where we live and try to make it better. That’s where they’re gonna see that we’re actually doing something about it. We’re not screaming, we’re not starting riots, all we’re doing is participating with them to make this vote go through.”
As Tijuana has its say Mexico’s future, many of its voters will depend on how the country’s next president handles the worsening relationship with its northern neighbor.
And whoever wins the election, it will be here, where improving U.S.-Mexico cross-border relations will play out.