The east, red. The west, blue.
Starting this week, Mexico City shows a kind of new internal border that makes clear the differences between living on one or the other side of the country’s capital.
The preliminary results of the mayoral elections held this Sunday split the city in two with a surprisingly clear dividing line down the middle that shows a political geography never seen before.
Thus, the eastern neighborhoods voted en bloc for Morena, the party of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO). Those from the west, by the coalition of the great traditional parties of Mexico: PRI, PAN, and PRD.
The result resulted in the word “Berlin” being a trend on social networks throughout Monday by those who compared this new division in the city with the disappeared wall of the German capital amusingly.
The location of this symbolic border is not the result of chance. In the west are the most affluent areas of the capital. On the other side, lower-income and working-class families live.
For this reason, beyond the anecdote, what happened further exposes the existing inequality in Mexico City and the growing polarization in a country that, judging by this new political map, is also increasingly visible in its capital.
After the elections on Sunday, the coalition of the formation of AMLO with the Partido del Trabajador would not be able to govern more than seven mayors.
The results represent a strong blow for Morena, who until now led 11 of the 16 mayors. The opposition took away key strongholds such as Cuauhtémoc or Miguel Hidalgo.
AMLO recognized “contrast” between the results achieved by his party in the states compared to Mexico City, but blamed it on the “bombing” of media and to a “dirty war”.
“For a long time there has been a campaign to discredit the very strong movement that had an impact on some sectors of the population,” agreed the head of government of the capital, the morenista Claudia Sheinbaum, who now must govern with more than half of the mayoralties in hands of the opposition.
The new capital political division, of course, generated a multitude of ‘memes’. Most stressed that it is no coincidence that this line separates some of the areas with the highest income and with a white population from the most humble with inhabitants of brown skin.
Life on either side
Indeed, in the “blue zone” there are areas where the upper classes live, such as Polanco and Lomas de Chapultepec, or those preferred by foreigners and expatriates, such as the Roma and Condesa colonies.
The majority of private investment and the headquarters of companies such as the corporate skyscraper area of Santa Fe are also concentrated there. There is also the historic center, the most visited attractions by tourists, and most of the buildings and government headquarters.
In the “red zone”, on the other hand, are the most popular neighborhoods, with difficulties in accessing public services and with the majority of municipalities most affected by poverty in the capital.
Hundreds of thousands in these eastern areas spend even hours each day getting to their jobs in more central areas. This is where the tragic subway accident occurred last month in which 26 people died and left these neighborhoods without a quick and cheap transportation option.
And although many predicted that the accident would harm the ruling party in the elections, the truth is that Morena won in the two mayoralties where the accident was registered.
“The most affected (in the mayoralties of) Iztapalapa and Tláhuac, of humble, hard-working, good people, understand that these things unfortunately happen and there it does not impact politically, electorally. However, in the middle and upper-middle-class colonies, there yes, “said AMLO this Tuesday.
Dolores Casanueva, a 63-year-old retired teacher, is one of the people who gave the victory to Morena with her vote in Iztapalapa. He acknowledges that there is much to continue improving in the city, but he continues to give his confidence to the party because “things cannot happen overnight.”
“I think that if people voted for the PAN in those other mayoralties, it is because they believe that they have not received benefits from the government, even if it is not like that, and that their taxes are taken from them to pay for social programs. But it is not true, the humble classes also pays taxes: property, water, when we buy soft drinks or tortillas … “, he tells BBC Mundo.
“It cannot be generalized, but many of those who live in those areas are elitist and classist. In addition, many benefited in their companies from fraudulent conditions from previous governments, and by taking away those subsidies and having to pay taxes, they are angry.”
On the other side of town, some residents make no secret of their disappointment with the ruling party.
“I voted in the past for Morena but this time I gave my vote to the PAN. The authorities have hardly helped us in this pandemic and we have had a really bad time,” the owner of a restaurant and neighbor of the colony tells BBC Mundo Roma, Cuauhtémoc mayoralty, who prefers not to say his name.
“They say that their priority is to help working people but I have not seen that. So I think it is time to change and try with other (rulers), although they also give me mistrust,” he adds.
The professor at the Colegio de México Soledad Loaeza believes that AMLO’s discourse of ruling preferentially for the poor has a great influence on this new political map and that it is usually full of criticism of the economic elites.
“The president has caused a lot of irritation with his values and objectives, especially in the middle classes. This impressive division is a consequence of his polarizing speech, highlighting social differences. This sows discord and causes a deep separation,” he tells the BBC World.
The communication consultant Luis Antonio Espino, on the other hand, believes that behind these results and the fall of Morena in the capital is the work of the current head of government.
“In municipalities with higher incomes, the media and public opinion weigh more, which can explain the dissatisfaction with Claudia Sheinbaum’s management. It is a clear punishment to a government (of the city) that has been bad at managing crises and that has aggravated problems that the city was already bringing, “he tells BBC Mundo.
Espino mentions some of these crises and problems the subway accident, the failed attack against the capital’s police chief in one of the wealthiest areas of the city, the insecurity, the water supply, or the management of the covid pandemic. 19.
“On the other hand, the client support networks that AMLO created continue to have a lot of weight in the neediest areas of the city and they respond well. That machine is still well oiled and that is why (Morena) continues to achieve great support in those areas,” he concludes.