Truck driver Jose does not mince words. Pointing to a fence behind which lies the Mexican city of Tijuana, he shakes his head.
“There is where the reign of corruption begins,” he says.
However, hundreds of his fellow citizens traveled on Sunday in caravans from all over California to the San Ysidro border crossing and then to Mexico to participate in a presidential election which, according to initial results, was won by Enrique Pena Nieto of Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI).
“Not that I don’t care,” adds Jose, who did not want to disclose his name. “But in Mexico elections are so corrupt that one’s vote is just a drop in the bucket.”
The 35-year-old driver walked from San Ysidro to Tijuana through a door in the fence, which displayed a “No turning around” sign on the US side.
“The president will end up being a millionaire,” he says bitterly and disappeared behind the revolving door at the border crossing.
In the same vein, the manager of a hotel in San Diego, who also declined to give his name, told AFP that he did not vote because “in the end, the victory will belong to Pena Nieto and Televisa.”
Pena Nieto opponents have already criticized an alleged alliance between the major television network, Televisa, and the PRI that ruled Mexico for 71 years until 2000.
“Well, that is why the PRI will win because people will not vote,” says Miguel Almonza of the Zacatecas Civic Front, an Orange County-based group that favors the ruling National Action Party.
His group brought some 250 immigrants to Tijuana to vote at special tables set for voters in transit.
“Corruption is a daily occurrence in Mexico,” says Almonza after parking in front of a McDonald’s before crossing the border. “But we have the satisfaction of having done an honest job.”
Nearby, an American street vendor shouted in Spanish with an English accent to Mexicans heading to Tijuana: “Cheap, cheap, I have everything cheap!”
The neighborhood is packed with remittance and loan offices as well as law offices specializing in residence permits and deportations.
“Now the goal is for Mexicans to vote from abroad,” says Almonza.
At least a dozen organizations of Mexicans living in the United States led hundreds of immigrants to vote in Tijuana. But two police officers told AFP that they did not notice any particular increase in traffic at border crossings, which are usually very busy anyway.
Just a little more than 40,000 Mexicans living abroad, most of them in the United States, voted by absentee ballots sent by mail.
To vote by absentee ballot, Mexicans needed a voter registration card issued by Mexican authorities. Those who do not have it have no other choice but travel.
However, this is hardly an option for illegal immigrants, who have no papers to re-enter the United States.
Thus the number of Mexican voters abroad was relatively small.
Some of the voters who traveled to Tijuana said the process was slow. There were long lines and not enough ballots for voters in transit.
Silvia Ventura, the Indigenous Front of Binational Organizations, a group that brought about 200 Mexicans to Tijuana, said not everybody could vote because of the lack of ballots.