Violence mars Mexico vote as country prepares to elect first woman president

MEXICO CITY, June 2 – Two people were killed in violence at polling centers on Sunday in the midst of Mexico’s historic election expected to make leftist Claudia Sheinbaum, the ruling party candidate, the country’s first woman president.

Voting was suspended at one polling place after a person was killed in a shooting in Coyomeapan, a town in the state of Puebla, the state electoral authority reported in the afternoon. The state attorney general confirmed another death at a polling center in Tlapanala, also in Puebla.

Mexico’s largest-ever elections have also been the most violent in modern history, with the killing of 38 candidates, including a local candidate who was fatally shot on Saturday night. The deadly violence has stoked concerns about the threat of warring drug cartels to democracy.

Sheinbaum, who has led in opinion polls over her main competitor Xochitl Galvez, will be tasked with confronting organized crime violence, if elected. More people were killed during the mandate of outgoing

A victory by either woman would represent a major step for Mexico, a country known for its macho culture. The winner is set to begin a six-year term on Oct. 1.

On her way to vote on Sunday morning, Sheinbaum told journalists it was a “historic day” and that she felt at ease and content.

“Everyone must get out to vote,” Sheinbaum, a physicist and former Mexico City mayor, said on local TV.

Galvez, a senator who represents an opposition coalition comprised of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), the right-wing PAN and the leftist PRD party, chatted with supporters before casting her ballot early Sunday.

“God is with me,” Galvez said, adding that she was expecting a difficult day.

Lopez Obrador, Sheinbaum’s mentor, greeted supporters and posed for photos as he walked from the presidential palace to vote with his wife.

There were long lines of voters outside polling places, even before they opened at 8 a.m. local time (1400 GMT), with some reports of delayed openings.

“It seems like a dream to me. I never imagined that one day I would vote for a woman,” said 87-year-old Edelmira Montiel, a Sheinbaum supporter in Tlaxcala, Mexico’s smallest state.

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador than during any other administration in Mexico’s modern history.

“Before we couldn’t even vote, and when you could, it was to vote for the person your husband told you to vote for. Thank God that has changed and I get to live it,” Montiel added.

Almost 100 million Mexicans are eligible to vote in Sunday’s election. Other positions up for grabs include Mexico City’s mayor, eight governorships and both chambers of Congress. About 20,000 elected positions are on ballots, the most in Mexico’s history.

The polls will close at 6 p.m. local time (0000 GMT on Monday). The first official preliminary results are expected late on Sunday. (Reuters)

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