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Mexican Border Crossings Remain Closed With PM-Mexico Elections

July 15, 1985

DOUGLAS, Ariz. (AP) _ Members of Mexico’s main opposition party kept the border crossing closed here early today after being told they had lost all political races in Sonora state.

″Most of the crowd has gone home, but there still is a handful blocking the border,″ said Nick Sudekum of the U.S. Border Patrol. ″Pedestrians are allowed to cross, but no vehicles can cross.″

Supporters of the National Action Party, or PAN, sat up lawn chairs across the lanes at the port of entry in Agua Prieta, across the border from Douglas, on Friday in anticipation that Sunday’s formal announcement of the July 7 election results would show they had lost. PAN leaders charged fraud and irregularities in the elections.

PAN protesters also closed the crossing at Naco, west of Douglas. They took over the Sonoita-Lukeville crossing, gateway to the resort city of Puerto Penasco, for about 21/2 hours Sunday morning, but it reopened later.

Adalberto Rosas, PAN’s candidate for governor of Sonora, said 20 or so protesters at the Lukeville crossing were chased away by a Mexican army unit.

″When they saw the Army coming, everybody just decided to leave,″ Rosas said. ″We are very respectful of authority especially when it’s well-armed.″

Border Patrol officials at two major crossings, Nogales and San Luis, reported no problems.

PAN members at Agua Prieta and Naco said they would man their barricades indefinitely, and Sudekum said he was not aware of any discussions about removing the protesters.

Alejandro Cass, a member of the ruling Institutional Revolutary Party, or PRI, which reclaimed the Agua Prieta mayor’s seat from PAN, said the border closing would hurt local economies.

″The authorities may have to take severe action to open the border,″ said Cass.

Meanwhile, in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, across the border from El Paso, Texas, PAN members fasting to protest alleged voter fraud said they were prepared to continue their hunger strike until the government gives them seats they contend they won. Results of the election were to be announced today.

More than 2,500 supporters of the party gathered Sunday at a downtown plaza to support the fasting candidates.

The PAN is claiming victory in all the Ciudad Juarez races, in which voters were to decide three federal representative and one state representative seats. But Mexico’s ruling Institutional Revoluntionary Party, or PRI, also contends it triumphed in those districts.

To protest the PRI’s alleged victory, which PAN members say only could come from fraudulent voting, several PAN members, including the mayor of Ciudad Juarez and his wife, began a hunger strike last Thursday.

Francisco Barrio Terrazas, whose July 1983 mayoral victory made Ciudad Juarez the largest Mexican city without a PRI-controlled government, originally said the fast would continue until 200,000 people signed petitions supporting the opposition party.

He said Sunday, however, that ″if PRI announces they’ve won, we’ll continue the hunger strike.″ He said PAN members hoped to be able to fast until they are given the seats they claim they won.

Update hourly