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Mexican presidential front-runner Enrique Pena Nieto filled most of Latin America’s largest soccer stadium yesterday for his last rally in the capital before the July 1 election, pledging to root out drug violence.
Speaking in Mexico City’s Estadio Azteca, a 105,000-seat bowl that hosted the 1970 and 1986 World Cup title games, Pena Nieto said he would protect democracy, amid charges that his Institutional Revolutionary Party, which ruled alone for seven decades until 2000, will erode freedoms.
“I’m part of a generation that has grown up in a democracy, and I aspire to be a president who governs respecting liberties, listening to everyone and including the voices of all,” said the 45-year-old former governor of Mexico state. “I’m going to govern for democratic unity, to build the agreements and reforms that our country needs.”
Pena Nieto has maintained a lead of more than 10 percent over his rivals in opinion polls since the beginning of the year on pledges for more inclusive economic growth and new efforts to end the drug war. Voters list the war on cartels, which has left more than 47,000 dead since President Felipe Calderon of the National Action Party, or PAN, took office in 2006, and sluggish job growth as their top concerns.
A GEA-ISA poll released June 23 showed Pena Nieto had 38.5 percent support, compared with 22.9 percent for Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of the Party of the Democratic Revolution and 21.4 percent for Josefina Vazquez Mota of the PAN. The survey of 1,152 potential voters was taken from June 21 to June 23 and had a 3 percentage point margin of error.
Pena Nieto’s rivals say he isn’t capable of bringing about the change he promises and returning the PRI to power would reignite corruption that blossomed under its previous rule.
At her own campaign closing event in Mexico City on June 23, Vazquez Mota filled most of a 45,000-seat bull ring, telling supporters that the election isn’t over and that her campaign’s own polls show her ahead of Lopez Obrador and trailing Pena Nieto by only six percentage points.
“The decision is in your hands,” she told the crowd, urging them to “make history” by making her Mexico’s first female president.
Lopez Obrador is scheduled to hold his final campaign rally on June 27 in the capital’s main square, known as the Zocalo. Supporters of the former Mexico City mayor shut down the area for months six years ago, claiming fraud in Calderon’s victory by less than a percentage point.
At Pena Nieto’s event, supporters clad in red, white and green, the colors both of Mexico’s flag and the PRI, began to fill the stadium hours before he spoke, dancing to blaring trumpets and waving tri-color flags.
“He spoke with conviction about bringing change not only for the party but for the nation,” said Luis Rivera, 24, a computer programmer from Mexico City and PRI supporter who attended the rally.
As Pena Nieto finished his speech after about 25 minutes, he and his soap-opera star wife, Angelica Rivera, were showered with red, green and silver confetti.
“We’re only one week away from winning the presidency,” Pena Nieto said. “You should feel pride, because your vote is going to change Mexico.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Eric Martin in Mexico City at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Joshua Goodman at email@example.com.