Mexico's Presumed First Female President Is an 'Enigma'

Claudia Sheinbaum is a protégé of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted May 28, 2024 1:13 PM CDT
Mexico's Presumed First Female President Is an 'Enigma'
Mexico's President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, right, and then Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum, greet supporters at a rally in Mexico City's main square, the Zocalo, July 1, 2019.   (AP Photo/Fernando Llano, File)

If polls are to be believed, Claudia Sheinbaum is about to make history. The leading candidate ahead of Mexico's June 2 presidential election, the 61-year-old leftist politician is poised to become Mexico's first female president as well as the country's first Jewish head of state, reports the Washington Post. An introduction:

  • Background: A protégé of outgoing president Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), Sheinbaum holds a PhD in environmental engineering. She served as AMLO's environment secretary after he was elected mayor of Mexico City in 2000 and replaced him as mayor, becoming the first female elected to the position, in 2018 when AMLO was elected president.
  • 'An enigma': Despite 25 years in the public eye, "she remains an enigma," long overshadowed by her mentor, whose "slow, pause-filled style of speaking" she sometimes adopts, per the Post. Though she's scoffed at the idea that she'll be AMLO's puppet, she's seen as a continuation of him and is backed by the Morena party he founded and dominates.

  • Breaking out: There are hints she has a "different vision for the presidency," with a focus on science-based solutions, renewable power, more police work, and efforts to combat violence against women, per the AP. But Sheinbaum, known for her trademark ponytail, must "avoid appearing to contradict" her mentor, "on whose supporters she totally depends."
  • Jewish heritage: Sheinbaum's grandparents fled Nazi persecution in eastern Europe. But "she's not religious" and "rarely discusses her Jewish heritage," per the Post.
  • US connection: "Her presidency could lead to a more positive relationship with the US than López Obrador's at times standoffish tenure," per the Hill. A fluent English speaker, Sheinbaum did postdoctoral research at the University of California at Berkeley and her daughter and sister live in the US.
  • Support: Sheinbaum maintains a double-digit lead over Xóchitl Gálvez, a former senator and tech entrepreneur from the conservative National Action Party, per the AP and Hill. Jorge Álvarez Máynez of the small Citizen Movement party trails both with less than 10% support in polls.
  • Final debate: Gálvez accused AMLO's administration of handing the country over "to organized crime" during a final debate on Sunday night, per the AP. But Sheinbaum defended AMLO's security record and, without any major stumbles, appeared likely to continue her lead into election day.
(More Mexico stories.)

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