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Thousands Line Up at L.A.’s Mexican Consulate To Cast Their Historic Vote for Mexico’s First Woman President

The insufficient availability of forms was just one of many issues voters faced on Sunday. No portable restrooms were available, and many people had to wait over five hours to vote.

Mexicans at Mexico Consulate in L.A. for voting day.

Mexicans at Mexico Consulate in L.A. for voting day.

The streets of MacArthur Park were alive with the energy of L.A.'s Mexican community on Sunday. In a grand display of civic duty, Mexican citizens living in Los Angeles flocked to the Mexican Consulate, eager to cast their historic vote.

This past weekend's presidential election in Mexico, hailed as one of the most significant in recent history, was met with great anticipation. Voters of all ages, some arriving as early as 3 a.m., were united in their democratic right to choose the next leader of their beloved homeland, the United Mexican States.

By noon, thousands of people had covered the 6th Street and Park View intersection, including those enthusiastic about voting, as well as street vendors selling tacos, ceviche, hotdogs, and hats with Andrés Manuel López Obrador's (AMLO) face on them. 

Fruit and taco stand across the street from the Mexican Consulate. Photo by Abraham Márquez for L.A. TACO.
Fruit and taco stand across the street from the Mexican Consulate. Photo by Abraham Márquez for L.A. TACO.
Mexico Hats, jerseys, and ceviche being sold on the street. Photo by Abraham Márquez for L.A. TACO.
Mexico Hats, jerseys, and ceviche being sold on the street. Photo by Abraham Márquez for L.A. TACO.
Voters emerged from the polls with ink-marked right thumbs, signifying they had cast their votes. Photo by Abraham Márquez for L.A. TACO.
Voters emerged from the polls with ink-marked right thumbs, signifying they had cast their votes. Photo by Abraham Márquez for L.A. TACO.

Voters were faced with a choice between two leading candidates, each representing a different vision for Mexico's future. Claudia Sheinbaum, from the left-leaning Morena Party, and Xóchitl Gálvez, from the National Action Party (PAN), part of the PRI-PAN-PRD alliance known as “Fuerza y Corazon por Mexico,” which together forms the official opposition to Morena's movement. It is considered a “centrist” alliance.

Sheinbaum already lead Xóchitl by double digits going into the weekend. Coming into Sunday, Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) “has seen his personal job approval rating vault to 80% from 67% in 2022, making him one of the most well-liked leaders in the world,” according to a recent GALLUP Poll.

At the same time, AMLO has been heavily criticized for his habitat-destroying Tren Maya project in Yucatán and Quintana Roo, a project that many have called “ecocide.” Mexico has also experienced the highest rates of cartel-fueled violence its people have ever seen under AMLO's leadership. The leader has also been heavily criticized for being too complacent about the tens of thousands of people who have disappeared in Mexico. 

L.A.'s Mexican Consulate announced early on that it had only 1,500 registration forms to give to non-registered voters wishing to cast their votes on Sunday. By 9 a.m., more than 2,000 non-registered voters were already waiting in line, with many of them turned away later.

Due to the limited number of voting booths—only ten—at the Mexican Consulate, the voting process in Los Angeles was lengthy and frustrating for some. Despite the wait times exceeding six hours for some individuals, their commitment and excitement to cast their votes remained unwavering.

For some, the chance to vote in person in Los Angeles motivated them to participate, many for the first time. Others were inspired by the prospect of electing the first female president, prompting them to endure the long lines despite the consulate's lack of coordination.

“I am here to exercise my vote… so that the transformation continues and we have a better country. So we can have a better future for us and our kids,” a woman named Margarita tweeted on X. 

Registration forms were just one of many issues voters faced on Sunday. No portable restrooms were available, and many people had to wait over five hours to vote. Numerous elderly voters were unable to stand in line for such long periods. No accommodations were made, and nothing had been adequately prepared for today.

Voting line wrapped around the Mexican Consulate Building. Photo by Abraham Márquez for L.A. TACO.
Voting line wrapped around the Mexican Consulate Building. Photo by Abraham Márquez for L.A. TACO.
Voters were sitting on dressers on the street. Photo by Abraham Márquez for L.A. TACO.
Voters were sitting on dressers on the street. Photo by Abraham Márquez for L.A. TACO.

Spanish media outlets Univision and Telemundo arrived and were quickly approached by voters. Both networks have faced criticism for their coverage of the Mexican elections, particularly regarding their portrayal of AMLO's policies aimed at helping the poor.

“Univision is not fair in its coverage of our community,” said Jorge Saldana. He also called out Univision journalist Jorge Ramos for talking badly about AMLO’s government, which he believes is doing good things for the people of Mexico.  

Despite the physical challenges of casting their historic votes on Sunday, voters remained in line, and those who couldn't vote stayed to provide support. 

It was evident that most people supported the Morena Party and AMLO, feeling confident that Sheinbaum will be the country's next leader.

At 5 p.m., the voting polls closed across Mexico and designated voting stations in the United States. Some voters could not vote because of the long lines and the Mexican Consulate's disorganization. Growing frustrated, voters marched to the consulate's entrance to express their anger.

They led with chants “queremos votar,” (“I want to vote”). Many from the crowd stayed at the gate for the next hour, chanting in support of their candidate. Slowly, in time, the crowd dispersed.

“I was not able to vote today, but if I could, I was going to vote for Claudia,” said Genaro Hernandez. “AMLO’s policy has given old people their pension and the opposition wants to take that away.”

Voters were sitting on dressers on the street. Photo by Abraham Márquez for L.A. TACO.
Voters were sitting on dressers on the street. Photo by Abraham Márquez for L.A. TACO.
The Mexican flag was waved in front of the Mexican Consulate. Photo by Abraham Márquez for L.A. TACO.
The Mexican flag was waved in front of the Mexican Consulate. Photo by Abraham Márquez for L.A. TACO.

Sheinbaum’s victory marks a significant turning point for Mexico and the diaspora, a nation traditionally characterized by its macho culture and home to the world’s second-largest Roman Catholic population, which has long upheld more traditional values and roles for women.

On Sunday, voters were allowed to change that. Sheinbaum will be the first non-Christian and first Jewish President of Mexico, although she is statedly secular. She holds a PhD in energy engineering and was also governor of Mexico City.

Mexico's new president comes from parents who were both raised by Holocaust survivors. She is a supporter of Israel, having met with the state’s ambassador and installing a photography exhibition in Mexico City’s metro system depicting early Israeli settlements in historic Palestine.

When it comes to the genocide of Palestinians since October 6th, she has condemned the attacks on civilians, called for a cease-fire, and supports a two-state solution. In an 2009 op-ed, she spoke about against the "massacre" of Palestinians, while calling for the liberation of Indigenous political prisoners at home.

Sheinbaum's victory historically makes her the first woman to win a general election in North America, be it Mexico, the United States, or Canada. Mexico made similar history in 1829 with the election of the continent's first Black president, Vicente Guerrero.

“I will go home now and watch history happen in real time," said José Durantes Ortiz. "I am confident Claudia will win, and I did my part. Now it's time to watch the results with my family and celebrate."

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