Anti-Trump mood sways Mexicans voters in favour of Lopez Obrador as president

Vastavam web: Hundreds of Mexicans living in California drove for hours on Sunday to vote south of the border for Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador as president, persuaded by his pledges to stand up to U.S President Donald Trump and end graft and violence at home. Exit polls Sunday evening showed Lopez Obrador had won by a large margin, and his rivals both conceded shortly after polls closed.

Queuing under the hot sun at Tijuana polling booths, many Mexican voters who had crossed the border from California told Reuters that they trusted Lopez Obrador most to protect the roughly 12 million Mexicans living in the United States. Lopez Obrador has pledged to not let Mexico become a “pinata” battered by the United States and rejects Trump’s plan for a border wall. He has also struck a nationalist tone on plans to boost the economy.

Trump has accused Mexico of sending criminals and rapists into the United States and is almost universally disliked in Mexico. Josefina Serrano, 44, who rode eight hours from Sacramento on a bus organized for voters, said she voted for Lopez Obrador because she was tired of corruption and violence in Mexico, as well an anti-Mexican attitude in the United States. Tensions with the United States over migration, border security and talks to revise a free trade deal have loomed over the election, prompting all Mexican presidential candidates to promise to defend the country against Trump’s threats.

A poll published in May by Seattle-based political research firm Latino Decisions showed that Lopez Obrador had a 23 percentage point lead over his closest rival among voting-age Mexican nationals living in the United States, especially those registered to vote by mail. The National Electoral Institute said 98,854 of them mailed ballots by Saturday, more than twice the amount of Mexicans abroad that voted in the last election.

Experts said such a number would not make a difference in a vote with a clear front-runner, but candidates in future elections might pay more attention to voters north of the border. Lopez Obrador launched his campaign in Ciudad Juarez in tribute to its namesake Benito Juarez, a 19th century Mexican president whose exiled government resisted a French colonialist intervention from the unruly city that borders El Paso, Texas. Even many Lopez Obrador supporters say the 64-year-old may struggle to achieve his ambitious goals – including getting Trump to soften his tone. “What they’re saying is a lie, that if Lopez Obrador wins, he’ll have a tough relationship with Trump,” said Juan Carlos Ramirez, 29, a construction worker in San Diego.