Indigenous woman to run for Mexican presidency

An indigenous woman backed by Mexico’s rebel Zapatista movement has registered to run as an independent candidate in next year’s presidential election, adding to a growing list of hopefuls bucking established political parties.

Maria de Jesus Patricio Martinez is the spokeswoman for the National Indigenous Congress, the political arm of the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN), and has been picked to be the group’s 2018 presidential candidate.Local media reported that after Patricio Martinez registered with the National Electoral Institute (INE), she pledged not to accept any funding from the government to run her campaign.

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.

The front-runner in most polls is former Mexico City mayor and two-time presidential runner-up Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, a leftist with nationalistic leanings.

The ruling centrist Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) of President Enrique Pena Nieto, who is barred by law from seeking a second term, has yet to pick a candidate.

Already, more than 10 first-time independent candidates have registered to run. Three of those contenders failed to meet initial requirements, according to the INE.

Independent presidential aspirants have four months to gather 866,593 signatures, representing 1 percent of the electorate, in at least 17 regions of Mexico to qualify as an independent candidate ahead of the July 2018 vote.

Patricio Martinez, a traditional healer and native Nahua speaker, is originally from the central Mexican state of Jalisco. Her support from the Zapatistas marks a more visible turn for the insurgent movement, which has faded in recent years.

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