Maria de Jesus “Marichui” Patricio Martinez, the independent candidate for Mexican Indigenous communities in the 2018 presidential elections, has registered with the electoral authorities, despite numerous bureaucratic hurdles.
“In order to pass this first step, we faced a lot of obstacles. They wanted to treat us as if they were part of the elites. As if this institution was only designed for them, not for common people, from the working class, and even less for indigenous communities,” said Patricio Martinez.
She pledged not to accept any funding from the government to run her campaign.
“As a woman, as a mother, and as a worker, let me tell you something: we have to fight sexism,” she said. “For them, common people don't exist. We have to organize, and end this capitalistic, patriarchal and racist state.”
Marichuy was elected on May 28, 2017, by the National Indigenous Congress, CNI, the political arm of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation, known by its Spanish acronym EZLN.
Coming from the Nahua community of Tuxpan, in the state of Jalisco, she is a traditional doctor in her community, founder of the health center Calli Tecolhuacateca Tochan in 1992 and a long-time leader in the Indigenous movement.
The Zapatistas announced in December 2016 their plans to elect a female candidate to represent the Indigenous community, a move met with mixed reactions as some tried to insinuate the candidate will help the country's right wing by drawing votes away from two-time left-wing candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador..
The decision to put forward a candidate for the next election marks a break with more than two decades of Zapatista strategy which rejcted the Mexican state and electoral politics.
The EZLN declared war against the government on January 1, 1994, launching the Indigenous movement in the southern state of Chiapas into the international spotlight as an example for autonomous social movements around the world.
For the upcoming elections, the front-runner in most polls is Lopez Obrador.
But Mexico’s major political parties have struggled to gain support in recent years, and voter surveys show all presidential hopefuls struggling to win support from as much as a third of the electorate.