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Covering the Ciudad Juárez election

By Andrés Rodríguez
On July 9, 2013

The Ciudad Juárez elections for mayor were held July 7, with Enrique Serrano Escobar of the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI), Partido Verde (PVEM) and Nueva Alianza (PANAL) coalition, taking the lead with 52.91 percent of the votes, according to preliminary results from the Instituto Estatal Electoral de Chihuahua.

The campaign, which ran from May 30 to July 3, never quite took off because it never really deviated from being the PRI's and PAN's (Partido Acción Nacional) game. The distinction, between the two leading candidates and the rest of the parties, was made clear from the onset. At the debate, in rallies, the PAN and PRI always had the greater numbers and it was the lack of organization of the PRD (Partido de la Revolución Democratica), PMC (Movimiento Ciudadano) and PT (Partido del Trabajo) that prevented them from attracting the voters.

Serrano Escobar of the PRI-PVEM-PANAL coalition and Maria Antonieta Perez Reyes of the right wing party PAN were the candidates that played social media the best, and the inclusion of online campaign sites with mostly specific platforms helped them get the word out.

Campaigning revolved around improving the police force-offering them a better pay and raising morale for the tainted profession-improving the city's infrastructure and offering better security. However, the political scientists that I spoke to said that campaigning this time around was superficial, and lacked any sort of real proposals to better the city.

Voter turnout in Juárez was at 35.98 percent according to the IEEC preliminary results, meaning that less than four of every 10 possible voters participated in the election.

While covering the elections for Newspaper Tree, I was disheartened to realize how little power the mayor yields in issues such as trade and immigration in the border region. It's virtually none, but the candidates demonstrated interest in influencing decisions at the federal level.

Serrano Escobar wasn't available for an interview at the time, but his proposals to revitalize U.S. investment in Juárez included the maquiladora industry and increasing tourism by targeting the downtown revitalization project.

Perez Reyes, who finished second with 37.78 percent of the votes, said that although it wasn't in her power as mayor to handle immigration, bridge waits and the ecological concerns of the Rio Grande, the mayor's job is to promote solutions and bring about awareness at federal levels.

Still, Perez Reyes said, Juárez should be concerned with their immediate problems-lack of security, infrastructure, for example-before worrying about bringing in tourism and commerce, from El Paso or elsewhere.

The strongest platform in bettering El Paso-Juárez relations came from PRD's, Graciela Espejo Alvidrez. Among her proposals was an El Paso-Juárez historical trail that would touch upon both cities' downtown and increase tourism in the area.

As sister cities, El Paso and Juárez share responsibilities and problems that should be handled in cooperation and I saw little to no proposals that concretely address a joint effort to tackle border concerns, or that at least offer to promote them at a federal level.

As the new leaders of these sister cities, El Paso mayor, Oscar Leeser and Juárez mayor-elected, Serrano Escobar have the opportunity to strengthen the collaboration between the cities and to develop a strategic plan for the border region. that should be carried through and not abandoned because of frustration and detachment at the federal level.

Andrés Rodriguez may be reached at prospector@utep.edu. 


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