Mexican youth voters dream of end to crime, pollution

Philosophy student Kamila Tellez, 20, dreams of a Mexico free from impunity and violence against women (CARL DE SOUZA)
Philosophy student Kamila Tellez, 20, dreams of a Mexico free from impunity and violence against women (CARL DE SOUZA)

An end to corruption, drug-related violence and pollution are some of the hopes and dreams of millions of young Mexicans preparing to vote in their first presidential election.

Many members of this new generation of voters share a common desire -- to be able to live without fear of falling victim to organized crime, while enjoying fair wages and a brighter future for the planet.

In total, around 15 million people aged 18-24 years old are able to choose a president on June 2, out of a total of 99 million registered voters, according to the National Electoral Institute.

They were born after 2000, a year of dramatic political change when the once-hegemonic Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) lost its seven-decade grip on power.

"I dream of a country where there isn't a 98 percent impunity rate," a Mexico where around 10 women are not murdered every day, said Kamila Tellez, a 20-year-philosophy student.

She has little enthusiasm for either of the two main candidates, ruling party hopeful Claudia Sheinbaum and her opposition rival Xochitl Galvez, both 61.

Nor is she very excited by longshot Jorge Alvarez Maynez, 38, who encourages young people to vote "so that no one decides for them."

The choice is for "the least worst option," said Tellez.

- 'Drugs and crime' -

Ricardo Aceves works nine hours a day at a children's tennis store in Mexico City, with only one day off a week.

The 21-year-old said his wish is that employers "do not abuse working hours, and that the daily wage is fairer."

Aceves, who lives with his mother and grandmother, would also like his taxes to be used to create "a more developed nation" with better infrastructure.

Ricardo Escobar, 20, hopes that a Sheinbaum presidency will bring benefits in terms of education and scholarships.

"We did well with the current government," he told AFP during a rally for rival Galvez in Atlacomulco, near the capital.

"I'm afraid that the same thing will happen to us as in Argentina. Its currency has been devalued a lot. The economy worries me," he added.

Ian Rivera, who sells jewelry in Mexico City's old quarter, dreams of a country free of corruption and "an end to drugs and crime."

The 20-year-old hopes to join his mother and sister who live in the United States.

"Drugs, drug trafficking, the environment -- all of this worries me a lot," he said, noting the effects of a recent heat wave in the capital.

"There has been a lot of pollution in the past two weeks," he said, as scientists warned that new temperature records could be set in the coming days.