MEXICO CITY — Mexico will hold its presidential elections next year. And for the first time, an indigenous woman is running for the office.
More than 50 indigenous communities from the National Indigenous Council (CNI) have designated their candidate for the Mexican presidential elections: a 53-year-old medicine woman known for her social justice work, called María de Jesús Patricio Martínez.
Patricio Martínez, who is also the spokeswoman of the CNI, has the backing of the Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional (EZLN) movement, the outlier group that rebelled against Mexico’s presidents for more than 23 years.
Isaías Trejo works with indigenous communities at the National Commission of Human Rights and considers that the nomination of an indigenous candidate, who is also a woman, is outstanding and significant for women's and indigenous rights.
"The indigenous in Mexico are less represented than they should, considering that they make up 20 percent of the population.The nomination is a way to make themselves visible to the political system, but also to generate awareness on their fight for other rights," Trejo said.
According to the latest Mexican Census, about 25 million people identify themselves as indigenous. More than 70 percent of them live in poverty.
Gerardo Noto is an expert in governance from the United Nations Development Programme and considers that an indigenous candidate is part of a world trend of non-professional politicians who look for profound changes in the political system.
“There is certain level of frustration among citizens in terms of the responsiveness and effectiveness of public institutions,” Noto said.
The Mexican CNI said their goal with Patricio Martínez's nomination is not to win the elections, but to protest against poverty, discrimination and the violation of their rights. They want to "disrupt the party" of those in power.