Photo, above: Ricardo Anaya, presidential candidate for the National Action Party (PAN), leading the left-right coalition “For Mexico in Front”, is pictured during an event at a hotel in Mexico City, Mexico February 28, 2018. (REUTERS/Henry Romero)
Smart guy, that Ricardo Anaya!
Anaya is a Mexican political candidate running for President of Mexico and he knows exactly where to go to find the most Mexican citizens to convince to vote for him – California.
Anaya visited California earlier this month to do what all Mexican politicians do – bash President Donald Trump and glad hand as many Mexican nationals as possible while soliciting their votes. He also met with University of California President Janet Napolitano, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune.
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The visit by Anaya, 39, to California has raised eyebrows in the U.S. where it is rare to see presidential candidates from a foreign country engaging in campaign activities with Americans. (It has happened before, but we’ll get to that later.)
So who is Anaya and what did he do in California that’s captured some attention? Here’s what we know.
Who is Ricardo Anaya?
Anaya, whose full name is Ricardo Anaya Cortes, is a Mexican attorney who has had political ambitions from a young age. He ran for office in the state of Queretaro when he was 21, and over the years he has had various jobs in government, according to his website.
Anaya is running for president in Mexico under a political coalition called For Mexico in Front, or FMF. His opponents are Andres Lopez Obrador, of the left-leaning MORENA party, and Jose Antonio Meade from the current ruling party, PRI.
The election in Mexico is set for July 1.
What was Anaya doing in California?
During a visit in San Francisco on March 2, Anaya met with Napolitano “to discuss ‘Dreamers’ and the constant threats by President Donald Trump against these young people,” according to his site. Anaya later shared a photo on Twitter of him and Napolitano shaking hands.
Hoy me reuní con Janet Napolitano, Presidenta de la Universidad de California. Platicamos sobre la importancia de apoyar a los dreamers y concordamos en que los migrantes mexicanos merecen respeto. pic.twitter.com/g4ZmtHMU7S
— RicardoAnayaC (@RicardoAnayaC) March 3, 2018
The next day, Anaya met with immigrant leaders in Los Angeles where he voiced his support for “Dreamers” — unauthorized immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally as children — and criticized Trump’s visit to Mexico in 2016, according to a summary of his visit published by the pro-immigrant nonprofit Center for Immigration Studies, or CIS.
“After Donald Trump had been insulting and revolting at the best that Mexico has in the United States, they dared to roll out a red carpet to receive him in Los Pinos, as if he were a head of state,” Anaya said, according to his website, which published excerpts of the speech.
Anaya called that visit embarrassing. The candidate also told his audience that the Mexican government has disrespected itself and that the only way to improve U.S.-Mexico relations is through self-respect. He assured immigrants that he was on their side.
The “respect” of which Anaya speaks is apparently a one-way street. He is demanding President Trump respect Mexico, yet he offered Trump anything but respect during his visit.
“Do not forget that you are not alone … all of Mexico is with you and when I am President I will always be on your side,” he said.
Can a foreign presidential candidate campaign in the U.S.?
It remains unclear whether there are any rules that forbid Mexican candidates from campaigning in the U.S. Technically, he has not yet registered himself as a presidential candidate — he is considered a “precandidate” since campaign season officially starts on March 30.
Anaya’s campaign characterized his presence in California as a “dialogue” and a brainstorming visit. The pro-immigrant group CIS said Mexican immigrants in the U.S. may be a deciding factor in the elections in Mexico due to their ability to cross south of the border and vote.
“It can be expected that over the next couple of months the presidential candidates will continue their appeals to Mexican migrants in the United States. Under Mexican law, Mexican citizens outside of the country can now sign up for voting credentials through their local consulates,” the group wrote on its site.
What’s been the reaction to Anaya’s visit to California?
Anaya’s visit met some criticism, including from Daniel Horowitz, a senior editor for the Conservative Review, who characterized Anaya’s California visit as a “dangerous case of stolen sovereignty.”
“There is something fundamentally wrong when a foreign presidential candidate can come here and urge American residents to vote for him so he can use his diplomatic tools to undermine America’s laws and sovereignty,” Horowitz wrote.
Mexicans weighed in on his visit to California as well, some confused as to what he wanted to accomplish by coming to the U.S.
“This dude wants to be president of the U.S.A.?” one wrote in Spanish.