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10 Things To Know About The First Indigenous Woman To Run For President Of Mexico

Maria de Jesús Patricio Martínez aims to be the sixth female candidate and the first indigenous woman to run for president of Mexico.

Posted on May 31, 2017, at 5:27 p.m. ET

1. This is Maria de Jesús Patricio Martínez, also known as "Marichuy." An indigenous Nahua, a traditional doctor, and a human rights defender, she wants to be Mexico's first female president.

Stringer / Reuters

2. The 53-year-old from Tuxpan, Jalisco, is planning to run in Mexico's presidential election in 2018.

Stringer / Reuters

The National Indigenous Congress (CNI) and the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) chose her to represent them, and she was elected by the agreement of all the indigenous towns. The CNI first announced in 2016 that it intended to run a woman candidate.

3. According to government statistics, around 25 million Mexicans — 21.5% of the country's population — identify as indigenous. But there are only a handful of indigenous representatives in Mexico's Congress.

Stringer / Reuters

(The masks, by the way, are a symbol of the Zapatista indigenous rights movement, and are meant both to keep its members anonymous and evoke indigenous Mexicans' status as invisible and faceless.)

4. But she's not on the ballot yet: Marichuy still needs 850,000 signatures by August 31 to qualify as an independent candidate.

Edgard Garrido / Reuters

According to the electoral rules, an candidate not running in one of Mexico's major political parties must get the signatures of 1% of the country's nominal elector list, representing at least 17 of Mexico's 32 states, to be an official candidate.

5. She'll be the sixth woman in Mexico to seek the presidency.

Daniel Aguilar / Reuters

Activist Rosario Ibarra de Piedra was the first woman to run in 1982. Josefina Vázquez Mota became the woman to win the most votes in Mexican history in 2012, with almost 13 million ballots cast for her — but she still lost.

6. She doesn't belong to the Zapatista Army of National Liberation, but she supports the group, which has fought for indigenous people's rights since 1994.

Stringer / Reuters

When the EZLN took up arms against the Mexican government in 1994, Marichuy supported the movement from Jalisco, and she's an ever-present figure in the National Indigenous Congress. Since then, the Zapatistas and the Mexican government have had a steady, if sometimes tense, truce in place.

7. Women have long been at the forefront of the Zapatista movement, though their contributions have not always been recognized.

Daniel Aguilar / Reuters

"It looks like indigenous women do nothing, but we have always been part of this process of continuous struggle, it's just that the outside has not acknowledged it much," Marichuy has said.

8. For example, women bore the brunt of the casualties in the 1997 Acteal massacre in Chiapas, when government-linked paramilitary groups killed 45 Zapatista sympathizers. Of the victims, 21 were women and 15 were children.

Str Old

9. Marichuy has been making history since 2001, when she spoke to the Mexican Congress along with EZLN Comandanta Esther representing the concerns of indigenous people.

La Jornada

10. And in 2018, she's looking to make history again.

Stringer / Reuters

If she is able to get the independent nomination, María de Jesús Patricio Martínez will be the first indigenous woman to ever run for president in Mexico.

This post was translated from Spanish.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.