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La Cronica, Mexico

The Mandate of Latin Suffrage:
Immigration Reform

By Isidro H. Cisneros

Translated By Reva Dhingra

8 November 2012

Edited by Kyrstie Lane

Mexico - La Cronica - Original Article (Spanish)

Barack Obama’s triumph has enormous significance for the entire world. First, it reminds us that the contrast between the right and left wing still holds opposite visions of society and the world. Second, we observe the participation of close to 120 million voters on Election Day, with a result of Obama’s re-election by more than 58 million votes. He was victorious in 26 states, including Massachusetts, where Romney was governor, and Michigan, where Romney was born. With 332 electoral votes (62 percent), Obama’s triumph means that liberal politics, characterized by a progressive vision oriented toward the most vulnerable social groups, also won. At the same time, a conservative and radical right was defeated, obtaining only 206 electoral votes (38 percent). Republicans favor deregulation, tax cuts for the more powerful economic sectors and, above all, the design and implementation of stringent immigration policies that violate human rights. Obama defeated an evangelical-tinged right that was against any intervention by the federal government in various spheres of social and economic life. In short, voters rallied to avoid a regression. Bearing in mind that the election campaign was the most costly in history – spending exceeded $6 billion – it was also a unique, successfully using social networks to capture the youth vote. 25 percent of voters announced their political preferences through Facebook or Twitter. It was an innovative campaign in terms of political marketing and management of mass means of communication, reaffirming that campaigning for election is a matter of image. A relevant statistic was the increase in early voting by absentee ballot or by mail, which an estimated 9.2 million people used to cast their votes.

The challenges that Barack Obama will face in the immediate future are enormous. He did not win the election with an overwhelming majority, as in 2008, and the House of Representatives will continue to be controlled by the Republican opposition. Furthermore, the financial and economic situation of the U.S. is extremely fragile, especially with regard to the federal deficit and the national debt. In addition, forecasts of voting intent predicted a virtual tie during the final weeks and remained close until results were released from the most contested states, Ohio and Florida. The United States will once again have a divided government, a frequent phenomenon that has been present in this country since 1832, when the presidential elections created this context for government. This division is reflected in an electoral realignment that expresses the inability of traditional parties to develop policies of inclusion. Various researchers believe that an explanation of this electoral realignment can be found in the political development of the social bases of the parties, which are starting to divide along ethno-cultural lines. For this reason, the U.S election was determined by so-called “race politics” characterized by a power struggle between ethnic groups: whites, African-Americans, Latinos, and Asians. The votes of each of these groups were crucial to Obama’s triumph, especially since seven out of ten Latinos (75 percent) voted for Obama. Their elevated participation was the surprise of this election. In this new scenario there will be, for the first time, three legislators of Hispanic origin in the Senate and 17 in the House of Representatives. There is talk of a new electoral coalition consisting of women, minorities and young voters, the groups which supported Obama’s re-election. Obama is left with four more years to realize the immigration reform that he has promised since the beginning of his first term. The almost 12 million undocumented immigrants that live and work in the U.S. demand to be taken into account. They must be recognized for the enormous contributions they make to the economy, society and culture of this country.

With respect to Mexico, Barack Obama’s victory will bring positive effects if we bear in mind that the U.S. is our main commercial partner and that we have a Free Trade Agreement with them. On their part, we are their third biggest commercial partner after Canada and China. They direct about 25 percent of their exports to our country. Although the foreign policy issues of our neighbor are focused on terrorism, the economic crisis and drug trafficking, the 3,185 kilometers of border that we share make the immigration issue urgent and constantly present in the bilateral agenda. Obama cannot ignore that his re-election is due to the new reality represented by the growing civic participation of Hispanics. The elections that permitted his re-election reflect a growing popular and democratic reclamation: promoting a radical and generous immigration reform.



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