From scientist to mayor to president: Claudia Sheinbaum becomes Mexico's first female president in 200 years

Claudia Sheinbaum
Photo credit: Les Echos

Claudia Sheinbaum, 61-year-old politician, won about 60% of the vote in the presidential elections in Mexico, while opposition representative Xochitl Galvez, received only 30% of the vote. Sheinbaum was nominated by the coalition made up of three left-wing parties, including the ruling Morena party. She will officially assume the presidency on October 1, becoming the first female president in Mexico's 200-year history of independence.

Sheinbaum was born and raised in Mexico City in a Jewish family. Trained in physics, she rose to prominence as a scientist and won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 as a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Sheinbaum's political career began in 2000 as the capital's environmental secretary appointed by Obrador, then the mayor of Mexico City. In 2018, after Obrador won the presidential election, Sheinbaum was elected mayor of Mexico City, also becoming the first woman to hold this position.

Sheinbaum's victory is not only a historic event for Mexico but also an important step forward in the fight for equality and social justice in the country. Kazinform News Agency correspondent reached out to the voters in Mexico to find out their opinion.

Diego Chavelas from Saltillo in the State of Coahuila, shared in an interview: “I voted for Claudia Sheinbaum, the same political party as our current president, but I hope she’ll do better. Well, it was surprising to have not only one but two female candidates for president of Mexico, each one of them with different views and ideas for the country, and both leading all the surveys. I personally voted for one of them because I liked her [Claudia Sheinbaum’s] proposals and ideas to improve our country, and she also seems prepared enough to run a country. I think that is a really good change to have a female president, keeping in mind that the culture here is primarily based on a patriarchy. I expect that whoever wins the elections will do the best for us by fighting the corruption in the government and focusing on helping people.”

The second respondent, Julio Carillo, explained his opinion and addressed the issues, saying, “We had three candidates, but the real contenders were two women: Xóchitl Gálvez and the newly elected president, Claudia Sheinbaum. Personally, I supported and voted for “blockchain and smart buildings". The candidate had a proposal to implement a blockchain system in the health sector, which seemed quite feasible, considering that we are a country that still fears technological changes.”

The fight against crime remains one of the main tasks for the new president. Between 2018 and 2022, the number of intentional homicides in Mexico exceeded 30,000 annually, peaking in 2020 with 36,773 murders. Despite a slight decline in the homicide rate in recent years, the problem remains acute in the country of 130 million. Sheinbaum has already promised to repeat her success in reducing crime throughout the country, where the influence of drug cartels is unusually strong.

As mayor, Sheinbaum made significant progress in the fight against crime, reducing the rate of intentional homicides in the capital to its lowest level in more than three decades. She plans to expand this experience across the country, emphasizing coordination between the National Guard, state police and prosecutors, as well as the work of intelligence and investigative services.

She also plans to continue the policy of expanding social programs made possible by increasing taxes on the wealthiest taxpayers. With the support of the ruling Morena party, which could gain a constitutional majority in the lower house of the Mexican Congress, Sheinbaum will be able to carry out the necessary reforms without significant obstacles.

Despite the plans on paper, Julio shares his thoughts: “What can be expected from a political party that has created a labor problem since it is convenient for the lower class segment of the population not to study or work since the government gives them financial support for not studying or working, of course, paid for by the taxes of those who do? It is a mystery what could happen. She will have both the Congress and the deputies in the majority, so the proposal that she makes in fact will proceed and be carried out. Another thing is the uncertainty of those of us whose work depends on inputs from the U.S., because just hours after the election, the dollar was at 16.20, and now it is at 17.89, and it looks like the value of MXN will continue to drop. It will be 6 years of maximum uncertainty, where it worked for them to go to the lowest segment of the population, which, unfortunately, is the majority of people who live in Mexico.”

As a vital labor force for its northern neighbor, Claudia Sheinbaum works to preserve the interests of Mexicans and foster equal ties with the United States. The primary issue still stands to be illegal immigration. Sheinbaum suggests investing in Central and South American nations as a solution.

Additionally, Mexico hosted regional, municipal, and parliamentary elections, during which over candidates escaped murder attempts, approximately 30 candidates lost their lives, and over 4,000 people declined to run because of threats from criminal gangs. Just hours after Claudia Sheinbaum was elected as the first female president Yolanda Sánchez, the mayor of Cotija, was assassinated. Sanchez was ambushed downtown, shot 19 times and died in hospital shortly after the attack. Her bodyguard was also killed in the shootout, locals suspect an organized crime gang was behind the attack.

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