Sonic Trace: ‘Who governs Mexico matters a whole lot’

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Luis Carlos, his friend Adrian, and his family watch the debate (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

This past Sunday,  Mexican Presidential candidates engaged in their second and final debate before the July 1 election. With three weeks to go, Enrique Peña Nieto of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) is the front-runner by a comfortable margin.

Sonic Trace teen reporter Luis Carlos sat down with his family and a friend to watch the second Mexican Presidential debate. Two weeks ago, he didn’t think the Mexican election would affect him at all. But he’s an undocumented Mexican living here in the US and what happens in Mexico could touch him closely.

Luis Carlos is a junior in high school. His parents brought him from Nayarit, Mexico when he was ten months old and he grew up in South Los

For Luis, the march was an education in Mexican politics. (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

Angeles. He considers himself American, but technically, he’s not. As he enters his last year of high school, he is realizing what this means – he can’t get his license, he can’t apply for a formal job and even his entry to college is at risk.

Earlier this month, the “Yo soy 132” Mexican student movement garnered support in the U.S. and Luis went to a march at L.A.’s Olvera street to talk about the upcoming election. Arriving at Olvera St., Luis Carlos found a crowd of about 100 people rallying against Mexico’s presidential forerunner, Enrique Peña Nieto. Below Luis learns that it’s important for people of Mexican origin to be concerned with the presidential election, particularly because of the threat of deportation. “Even though you grew up in the States… you could be deported yourself,” he is told.

Luis Carlos’ parents are both undocumented. They left Mexico in 1992 during the the presidency of Carlos Salinas de Gortari of the PRI. Like Luis Carlos, his dad feels that Mexican politics don’t affect his daily life in Los Angeles. After watching the debate, Luis’ dad says that if he got deported and had to vote, he would vote for the PRI. The debate only fortified his opinion. “My grandfather was a PRI-ista, my father was a PRI-ista, and that makes me a PRI-ista by tradition. You can’t flip flop on family tradition,” he said.

Adrian, Luis’ friend says he thinks that Gabriel Quadri de la Torre was the only candidate talking honestly about the issues. He felt that the other candidates were just speaking in clichés and insulting each other. Adrian did feel that PRD candidate, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, was the only candidate to accept that immigration is an internal Mexican problem and not just a U.S. problem.

"Yo Soy 132" march at Olvera Street

Luis feels that after watching the debate and talking to people at a recent march, he is ready to talk to Mexican policymakers about the election. “I don’t know what candidate I would vote for if I had to. I relate to each one in a different way, but I feel that no one talks clearly about Mexican immigration policy  or understands my reality,” Luis Carlos said. “In the end,” he said, “it is because Mexico was so bad that many of our parents left. And yet they don’t say that.”

With Mexico”s presidential election on July 1, Luis Carlos is on a quest to find out about Mexico, the presidential candidates and what impact the Mexican election could have on the fate of millions of undocumented Mexicans living in the US. Stay tuned as we learn more about the presidential election through the eyes of Luis Carlos. As a Sonic Trace teen reporter, he will interview experts, historians and Mexican policymakers to  figure out why the Mexican election should matter to him — and to Los Angeles.

Sonic Trace is part of Localore , a national initiative of AIR–Association for Independents in Radio– with principal funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.  It is produced in partnership with AIR and Zeega, a non-profit inventing new forms of interactive storytelling.The broadcast home of Sonic Trace is KCRW’s Independent Producer Project. The full project will go live this Fall. In the meantime, tune into our radio and web features and find out more about Sonic Trace on our Facebook page.