Women make splash in Mexico's elections(Read article summary)
Mexico is facing a milestone for women as it fields its first female candidate from a major party in the July 1 presidential election. But women are vying to make an impact in local elections as well.
Mexico may be fielding its first female candidate from a major party for president, a milestone for women in politics here, but there is just as much buzz for female candidates at the local level.
In the conservative city of Guadalajara, one candidate even opted to go topless to getÂ attention for her bid to congress.Â Even though she's been criticized for objectifying women, she sees it differently. â€śWe had to do something that would have an impact,â€ť says Natalia JuĂˇrez of the leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), as campaigning wrapped up before Sunday's race. Mexicans will vote this weekend for a new president, governors in a handful of states, and a whole new congress.
Ms. JuĂˇrez raised eyebrows recently when she disseminated provocative photos during her campaign. The first, a billboard image of the candidate and six other women nude from the waist up, their left hands covering breasts, brought widespread attention. Similarly controversial images followed.
For some women it showed she would be an honest politician, with nothing to hide. But not all of the reaction was positive. Critics from around the world accused her of objectifying women for political gain. But JuĂˇrez, a philosophy professor at the University of Guadalajara, shrugs off criticism. Her intention was to fight prejudices and â€śhelp demystify the feminine body,â€ť she says.
She acknowledges that disrobing as a campaign tactic is a radical notion for some, but itâ€™s not the only unconventional proposition JuĂˇrez advocates. She also supports the legalization of drugs, particularly marijuana, as a way to combat the countryâ€™s spiraling drug violence. And she believes itâ€™s time the country focused more attention on the rights of women and gays.
On Wednesday, the last day of campaigning in Mexico, JuĂˇrez shook hands with dozens of vendors at a bustling market in the heart of the city. But she spoke little of the more controversial aspects of her campaign. Instead, she distributed yellow backpacks with her partyâ€™s logo and took shots at the more powerful political parties, promising to work for progress in her diverse district.
â€śItâ€™s time for change,â€ť she told Sandra Flores Mendoza, who was selling a variety of fresh produce at the market.
Ms. Flores, who clutched a campaign leaflet of JuĂˇrezâ€™s nude photo in her hands, says she plans to vote for the professor.
â€śHer photo says a lot about her,â€ť says the vendor. â€śIt says she is bold and uninhibited; that can serve her well in Congress. I think sheâ€™s a strong candidate who has nothing to hide.â€ť
After chatting with JuĂˇrez nearby, vendor Pedro Mejia Rodriguez says he likes what he hears. But he views her use of nudity to try to win votes as immoral.
â€śPeople's actions, their work, should speak for themselves," he says. "Is the next step to get naked in Congress?â€ť
Not a chance, JuĂˇrez says.