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Claudia Sheinbaum: Mexico’s First Female President

MEXICO CITY, June 3, 2024 (AP) — Claudia Sheinbaum is set to make history as Mexico’s first woman leader in over 200 years of independence. The 61-year-old former mayor of Mexico City and lifelong leftist captured the presidency by promising continuity and capitalizing on her predecessor’s popularity. An official quick count confirmed her victory in Sunday’s vote.

Sheinbaum ran a disciplined campaign, leveraging the success of her mentor, current President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Now, as she prepares to take office, Mexicans are eager to see how Sheinbaum, with her distinct personality and scientific background, will navigate her presidency.

With a Ph.D. in energy engineering and a brother who is a physicist, Sheinbaum’s scientific approach has been a hallmark of her career. During the COVID-19 pandemic, her actions as mayor of Mexico City diverged from López Obrador’s national strategy. She expanded testing and implemented business hour limits and capacity restrictions, while the federal government downplayed the importance of testing. Sheinbaum also publicly wore protective masks and urged social distancing, contrasting with the president’s approach.

As Sheinbaum steps into her new role, violence remains a significant issue in Mexico. She has pledged to expand the quasi-military National Guard created by López Obrador and target social issues that contribute to cartel recruitment. “It doesn’t mean an iron fist, wars, or authoritarianism,” Sheinbaum emphasized during her final campaign event. “We will promote a strategy of addressing the causes and continue moving toward zero impunity.”

Sheinbaum shares many of López Obrador’s political views, including his critiques of neoliberal economic policies and support for a strong welfare state. She supports Pemex, Mexico’s state-owned oil company, while advocating for clean energy initiatives. “Being from the left means guaranteeing the minimum rights to all residents,” Sheinbaum told the AP last year.

Observers expect Sheinbaum to be less combative than López Obrador, choosing her battles more selectively. Ivonne Acuña Murillo, a political scientist at Iberoamerican University, noted, “It appears she’s going to go in a different direction.”

In addition to being Mexico’s first female president, Sheinbaum will also be the first person of Jewish background to lead the predominantly Catholic country. This historic milestone adds another layer to her groundbreaking presidency.


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