On Jan. 23, the Mayer Theatre was the venue for the first Mexican presidential debate in Northern California. Approximately 200 people attended the event, which was co- hosted by the Global Leadership and Ethics program at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, The World Affairs Council of Northern California, and Bank of America.
Mexican law prevents actual candidates from campaigning outside of Mexico. So high-ranking representatives of the three major political parties—the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI), the Partido Acción Nacional (PAN), and the Partido de la Revolucion Democratica (PRD)—answered the questions crafted by the Ethics Center with input from faculty, staff, and members of the local Mexican community ranging from laborers to executives.
“This July, for the first time, Mexicans living abroad will be able to vote without going back to their country,” said Almaz Negash, director of the Global Leadership and Ethics Program. Being able to hear the issues discussed in person was an opportunity some may not have gotten had Santa Clara not hosted the event, she noted. “This debate gave them a chance to see where the next president stands on a variety of issues. We may have helped shape their thinking.”
Questions touched on the economy, society, politics, international relations, corruption, and drugs. “With only two minutes to answer and one for rebuttal, there wasn’t a lot of time, so you can’t expect representatives to have answered everything,” observed Negash. “But I think attendees got a flavor of who was who and what they stand for.”