September 18, 1998

Mexican Experts Express Fears About Voting Abroad

By Guadalupe Ortiz

JALAPA, Mexico - Two Mexican legal experts said they fear that letting Mexicans abroad vote in elections could endanger their country's sovereignty.

``I am against it because 7 million Mexicans resident in the United States would vote, so they could have the possibility of determining who would be the next president of Mexico,'' former Attorney General Jorge Carpizo told a seminar here Monday on the issue.

Mexico's Congress and its Federal Electoral Institute are discussing ways to let Mexicans vote for the first time while abroad.

But with perhaps 10 percent of Mexico's voting-age population living abroad, the issue is raising hard questions for a country where elections are increasingly closely fought.

Diego Valades, a former deputy attorney general, said he is worried that confusion could arise from a recent law allowing Mexicans to maintain their nationality even while taking foreign citizenship.

That law supposedly does not give dual nationals voting rights, but Valades indicated it might be difficult to draw the line.

``By chance, now we have the problem not of Mexicans voting abroad, but of people who have foreign nationality voting in elections,'' he said.

He said that raises ``a grave problem of national sovereignty, because foreign citizens would be deciding who is our president and eventually participating in constitutional reforms.''

``We would have the case of numerous members of the U.S. armed forces of Mexican origin who have acquired our nationality, or who conserved it, having recently acquired U.S. (citizenship) voting in Mexican elections.''

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