Convocation, International Studies

Convocation Profile: Alex Garcia Fuentes, International Studies

October 03, 2018

From SFU News...

By Diane Luckow

For international studies graduand Alex Garcia Fuentes, a university highlight was a week spent in Mexico this summer as an international electoral observer for Mexico’s July 1st elections.

“I was very excited to see this election first-hand because of the implications for this country to have a leftist government in power, particularly in this era of Trump,” he says.

Garcia Fuentes travelled to Mexico on a fellowship from SFU's School for International Studies’ Latin American Studies Program. He received training in Mexico City before travelling to the small tourist town of Tepotzlán in the state of Morellos, where he observed the election process at nine polling stations throughout the day.

“We were there one-and-a-half hours before the polls opened at 9:00 a.m. and didn’t finish until about 2:00 a.m. after watching the final count,” says Fuentes.

“We ensured that voters were following procedures—that voting was done in secret, that ballot boxes were secured, that voters weren’t being impeded from voting and that no-one was coercing or paying people to vote. If we saw a problem, we had to write it down and bring it to the mission chief.”

Wearing the white vest of an international observer, he says, gave him “a very strange sense of authority. People were more nervous when we were around. Some were pleased to see us, some not. There was a palpable change in atmosphere once we showed up at a polling station.”

Fortunately, he didn’t experience any violence, although it did occur elsewhere.