By Carlos Zuñiga
Tijuana, Mexico, Jun 4 (EFE).- The impact of the migration phenomenon on local communities has been barely mentioned on the campaign trail ahead of Sunday’s midterm elections in Mexico, even though that issue is a key concern for residents and migrant activists in this northwestern city and other border areas.
In the governor’s race in the northwestern state of Baja California, the candidates’ scant interest in the effects of migration has been a cause of annoyance for people like Jose Maria Garcia, director of Tijuana’s Juventud 2000 migrant shelter.
“It’s clear there’s not a very specific interest in the migrant community,” the activist said.
He added that candidates need to pay attention to the migration phenomenon because many Mexicans forcibly displaced due to organized crime-related violence relocate to Tijuana in their bid to reach the United States.
Lauda Lopez, a housewife in Tijuana, told Efe it is evident that governments have done nothing to address the adverse effects of migration and that the issue is not among their priorities.
“They’ve clearly done nothing. Otherwise, homeless migrants wouldn’t be in tents on the street, eating from the garbage,” she said.
Violence and crime, however, are key issue for candidates for municipal and state office after a total of 658 intentional homicides, 60 culpable homicides and four femicides (gender-based killings) were registered in Tijuana between January and April.
The violence continued in May with more than 150 violent deaths.
Crime problems are palpable in tourist areas like Avenida Revolucion and Tijuana’s historical center, zones where muggings are common and there are significant numbers of homeless people.
“No one wants to go out and enjoy themselves and run the risk of something happening to them,” Carolina Rodriguez, the manager of a seafood restaurant in Tijuana, told Efe.
Those problems also could contribute to low turnout at the polls in a state that, according to the National Electoral Institute, traditionally has among the highest levels of voter abstention.
With the pandemic also serving to keep people away from polling stations, voter participation is expected to be low once again on June 6.
According to Baja California state’s Health Secretariat, that state has registered 48,499 confirmed coronavirus cases and 8,118 deaths attributed to Covid-19. A total of 824,000 people have been vaccinated in that state, which is home to 3.7 million people.
Voters in Baja California will go to the polls on Sunday to elect the mayors of the state’s six municipalities: Tijuana, Mexicali, Tecate, Ensenada, Playas de Rosarito and San Quintin, as well as state and local lawmakers and the state governor.
The two leading gubernatorial candidates are Marina del Pilar Avila Olmeda of the Juntos Hacemos Historia coalition (headed by the nationally ruling Morena party) and Guadalupe Jones Garay, a former Miss Universe who is the candidate of the Va por Mexico electoral alliance, which comprises the once-dominant Institutional Revolutionary Party and the two parties that used to be its main adversaries: the center-right National Action Party (PAN) and the center-left Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD). EFE