Mexicans elect pro-worker progressive Sheinbaum as president in landslide
A child watches as an electoral official dyes her father's thumb with election ink during general elections in Mexico City, Sunday, June 2, 2024. | Matias Delacroix/AP

MEXICO CITY—In an historic election, Mexican voters elected pro-worker progressive candidate Claudia Sheinbaum, the first ever woman and first-ever Jewish person as president for a six-year term.

“We women have landed in the presidency,” Sheinbaum declared in her victory speech. “But we are going to govern for everyone.

“For the first time in 200 years of the republic, I will become the first female president of Mexico. And as I have said on other occasions, I do not arrive alone. We all arrived, with our heroines who gave us our homeland, with our ancestors, our mothers, our daughters and our granddaughters.”

Sheinbaum is an ally of outgoing President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, called AMLO, and nominee of his Morena Party. She will be Mexico’s first woman president and first Jewish president, in a largely Roman Catholic nation. She takes office on October 1. Mexican presidents may serve only one term.

First Nobel Prize winner

She’ll also be Mexico’s first past Nobel Prize-winning president, sharing the award with colleagues on a United Nations climate science panel that investigated and publicized the accelerating threat of global warming. Sheinbaum holds a PhD in energy engineering from Mexico’s leading university.

While Sheinbaum’s top tasks will be battling criminal cartels and yawning income inequality—including a huge gender gap there, the former Mexico City Mayor, who was also a member of AMLO’s Cabinet, may have to solve another problem: What to do about Donald Trump.

Not only is the presumed Republican U.S. presidential nominee anti-Mexican, anti-immigrant and anti-people of color, but he’s also now a convicted felon. And even if he wins in the U.S. in November, Mexican law bars felons from entering without a presidential waiver, regardless of where their appeals are in the courts. Other nations with felon bans include Canada and the United Kingdom.

Unofficial tallies from Mexico’s national elections commission show Sheinbaum not only won by a two-to-one margin over her closest competitor, female Sen. Xochitl Galvez, in a two-woman-two-man race, but brought in a Morena majority in the Mexican House of Representatives and came close to a majority in the Senate.

In her victory speech, Sheinbaum praised AMLO and promised to continue many of his policies, while concentrating on reducing Mexico’s yawning income inequality. Mexico’s corporate class, many of them linked to the cartels, reacted to the landslide for Sheinbaum and Morena with a slight decline in stock market averages.

Sheinbaum promised to combat the cartels by “building a strategy of addressing the causes and continue moving toward zero impunity” for cartel felons.

And Mexican income inequality also reflects gender and class inequality. in its workforce. Domestic workers face harsh conditions and mounting violence on the job. Feminist groups in Mexican states—which are still dominated by male politicians—must keep fighting for abortion access and sexual and reproductive rights. And the murder rate targeting women has risen.

One of AMLO’s first actions on taking office was to double Mexico’s minimum wage. Others included instituting better old-age pensions and providing college scholarships and other incentives to keep young people out of the criminal cartels. And he dissolved the notoriously corrupt National Police, handing law enforcement over to the armed forces.

Sheinbaum will also have to deal with the impact and after-effects of the U.S. crackdown in migration at their common border. Biden has already been implementing many of the anti-immigrant policies pushed by Trump when he was president. Biden produced a new border protection plan on June 4. It features almost automatic rejection of all asylum seekers and forces other migrants to remain in camps south of the border, in northern Mexico.

Trump says he would deport all 10 to 11 million undocumented people in the U.S., after first rounding them up and throwing them into prison camps. He calls foreign migrants criminals and rapists, and promises to shut the border and ban Muslims and people from what he calls “shithole countries” from entering. Migrants from countries Trump lambasts, including Mexicans, are most often people of color.

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Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Award-winning journalist Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of the union news service Press Associates Inc. (PAI). Known for his reporting skills, sharp wit, and voluminous knowledge of history, Mark is a compassionate interviewer but tough when going after big corporations and their billionaire owners.