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10,000 Block Ciudad Juarez Bridges in Vote Protest

July 15, 1986|Associated Press

CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico — About 10,000 supporters of the opposition party Monday briefly blocked two bridges connecting this city and El Paso, Tex., to protest alleged fraud in elections won by the ruling party.

The action was prompted by a call from Gustavo Elizondo, the National Action Party candidate who lost the race for mayor of Ciudad Juarez.

"I want you to promise me that we will neither provoke violence or accept violence," Elizondo told a rally at City Hall before directing the crowd to split up, with each group going to a different bridge.

The bridges are among several connecting this city with the United States.

The protest, which lasted about two hours, was broken up by Mexican soldiers who moved in with riot shields to push the demonstrators back.

Earlier Monday, in Durango, about 1,000 supporters of the National Action Party took over City Hall in another election protest.

The takeover, which occurred without violence, came about 1 a.m. The activists threatened to stay indefinitely, said Jaime Lopez, a government spokesman in the city about 440 miles south of the U.S. border.

The moves came amid announcements of sweeping victories by the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, in state and municipal elections held July 6 in six states.

The only major victory for the opposition was in the mayor's race in the northern Baja California city of Ensenada.

The PRI had nearly 62% of the vote in the race for governor of the state of Chihuahua, according to partial results announced by the State Electoral Commission in Chihuahua city, the state capital.

The PRI, which hasn't lost a presidential or gubernatorial election since its founding in 1929, also won the mayor's seat in Ciudad Juarez, said Lorenzo Gonzalez Lechuga, president of the municipal electoral committee.

Chihuahua is Mexico's biggest state, bordering on New Mexico and Texas. Ciudad Juarez, with a population of 1.2 million, is the largest city in Chihuahua.

Of 67 mayors' jobs at stake, PRI has won 22 so far, in partial results. The National Action Party has won one and a leftist coalition won another.

Jaime Bermudez, a wealthy industrialist running for Ciudad Juarez mayor on the PRI ticket, gathered 111,640 votes, said Gonzalez. Bermudez defeated National Action Party candidate Elizondo, who won 78,961 votes.

Elizondo's campaign was hurt the week before the elections when his 1985 drunken driving arrest in El Paso became known.

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