Indigenous Woman is Running for President in Mexico

By Editor June 15, 2017 06:24

Indigenous Woman is Running for President in Mexico

by Raquel Reichard

María de Jesús Patricio Martínez is making history as the first indigenous woman to ever run for president in Mexico.

MORE: 10 Films About Indigenous People & Struggles You Need to Watch

In May, Mexico’s National Indigenous Congress, a group of native communities, and the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) nominated the 53-year-old to represent them in the 2018 presidential election.

The election will be the first to accept independent candidates. But to ratify her nomination, she will need to get signatures from 1 percent of the nominal electoral roll, including people from 17 of the country’s 32 states, in 120 days. In total, she needs about 850,000 signatures.

Political analyst Enrique Toussaint said it will be a “titanic task,” but notes that she has enough support in rural areas and even among city residents tired of politics as usual to make it happen.

“Her great potential lies in drawing many Mexicans out of abstention,” he told the Guardian. “I’ve spoken to a lot of people who never vote because they’re against the system, but they’re very interested in this movement.”

While a nomination would be ideal, for Patricio, her run is mostly symbolic. “We’re not going for votes,” she told the news site. “Our aim is to highlight the problems that those of us at the bottom are experiencing.”

Those issues include discrimination, poverty, education, health care, unemployment as well as the displacement and destruction of ancestral lands as a result of mining, tourism and infrastructure projects.

“The government isn’t interested in supporting indigenous people – it sees us as people who get in the way,” she said. “The political class only see the earth and our natural resources as means of making money, not things that benefit the community and need protecting.”

Patricio, a healer and mother of three, hopes her campaign can inspire unity among indigenous communities and Mexico’s working-class. Her hope is to destroy and rebuild Mexico’s controversial political system.

PLUS: 7 Short Videos Celebrating Mexico’s Indigenous Languages

“We have to tear up the roots of what’s hurting Mexico,” she said. “This country needs healing.”

By Editor June 15, 2017 06:24

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