As an international news junkie, I took the assignment of covering what Mexican natives in Orange County were doing for the upcoming Mexican presidential elections. Little did I know that it would be so difficult to get information from the "community office" of the party expected to win the July 1 election, that of the once-mighty Partido Revoluncionario Industrial, or better known by the acronym PRI.
Candidate Enrique Peña Nieto (the vacant-looking guy at left) had recently created a community office in the heart of Plaza Mexico in Lynwood to communicate with citizens in the U.S. so they could send proposals to PRI officials in Mexico. However, this campaign office doesn't have a phone number listed, let alone a website, in which a reporter might be able to ask some questions--namely, what are the PRI's efforts in Orange County looking like.
Instead of heading to Plaza Mexico, I decided to call the main office of Plaza Mexico to find the PRI's phone number. The receptionist, however, seemed to know nothing of the PRI office and quickly hung up.
Last Friday, I went to Plaza Mexico in hopes of finding a PRI person I could talk to personally. The lights inside were off and the door was locked as I approached the doors to the community office. I went to a nearby clothing store and asked if they knew what time the office opened. The lady there immediately directed me toward the main office of the mall.
Once I began asking about the office, I got the feeling that the receptionist didn't like me asking about it. After some persistence, the receptionist decided to call someone. I didn't understand the secrecy behind it all. If it's a 'community office,' why is it so difficult to get in contact with someone? A few minutes later, I was on the phone with Gladis Pinto-Muñoz, a member of the community office and a priista.
I asked her a general question about how people would go about voting if they were interested, and soon after, she became defensive and began asking me questions.
"Who are you working for? What business are you with?" she demanded.
I told her I was an intern at the Weekly and was calling to learn more about what was going on throughout the election process. After a brief moment of silence, Muñoz began saying how she loved supporting and helping young people succeed with their dreams, following with praise for the PRI campaign and Peña Nieto's promises for his country.
It was then that she gave me her phone number, email address, and schedule to the community office. Apparently, the office regularly opens at noon, but the person in charge had car trouble, and they would eventually show up. Muñoz even offered to get me in contact with a Doctor Valdivia, an affiliate from Mexico, who would answer any questions. She continued to give me more information and brought up a PRI representative based in Orange County--the main reason I was calling them in the first place. However, she didn't supply me with his phone number or address.
She went on to tell me about a protest she was heading to in Los Angeles outside the Mexican Consulate against the PRI (she was going to "support my [priista] friends") and a forum that would be held later on in the day. She said she would have loved to show me inside, but she wouldn't be in until 2 p.m. that day.
We ended the conversation with Muñoz asking me to email her my information and questions, and she would get back to me in hopes of attending an event the following day.
Once back at home, I decided to return to Plaza Mexico in hopes of speaking to Muñoz personally. I got to the office at 3 p.m. and after asking around, no one had shown up the entire day.
I emailed Muñoz in hopes of receiving a reply. The afternoon turned into evening, and still no response. It was already 9 p.m.; I tried texting her and sent her my own email, thinking I must have misspelled her email address. I still didn't receive a response from her.
The following morning, I called Muñoz once again and she didn't pick up. I was waiting for her voicemail to kick in, but her inbox was full.
This Thursday--almost a week later--I still haven't received a response via email, text, or phone call. I can understand that any representative is a busy person, but is it really that time-consuming and difficult to send a text message or email? Apparently the PRI's loyalty to Mexican natives doesn't translate well when it comes to crossing borders. So much for their promise on restoring Mexico's leadership in the world.