Claudia Sheinbaum, the former mayor of Mexico City, gestures during the announcement of the results of an internal national polling as she becomes the next president on September 6, 2023.
Claudia Sheinbaum, the favored candidate for Mexico’s next president, poses in black and white 1991 photographs holding up a banner that reads ‘Fair Trade and Democracy Now!!’ as if protesting the current Mexican government.
It was not until years later that Sheinbaum and her coach, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who had been a vocal opponent of the establishment since before he assumed power, finally got together.
The photo she shared on social media in June highlights their mutual commitment to reducing persistent inequality in Mexico and the belief that influential individuals maintain it.
Sheinbaum, aged 61, intends to become a guardian of the state, consolidate public authority over natural resources, and enhance his welfare initiatives and significant infrastructure projects. Additionally, she is prepared to push Mexico towards greater adoption of renewable energy sources.
During her campaign for the presidential nomination of the governing leftist National Regeneration Movement (MORENA), Sheinbaum addressed a crowd of supporters in central Mexico City, stating that “the transformation initiated by President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador” is still ongoing.
MORENA announced on Wednesday that Sheinbaum, who resigned from her position as Mexico City mayor in June to run for the nomination, would be the candidate taking over from Lopez Obrador.
Her victory was met with controversy as her main competitor, former foreign minister Marcelo Ebrard, criticized the selection process for being plagued by irregularities.
The Mexican constitution limits presidents to a six-year term.
Should Sheinbaum or her opposition candidate, businesswoman-turned-politician Xochitl Galvez, win the June 2, 2024 election, one of them will become the country’s first female president.
Sheinbaum has remained unyielding in his support for Lopez Obrador, despite his struggles to control the unprecedented levels of violence, clashes with energy investors, attacks on critical news outlets, and alienates many wealthy Mexicans.
She has outperformed him in security matters, resulting in nearly 50% reductions in murders across Mexico City during her time as mayor. Additionally, Sheinbaum worked on expanding public transportation and pushing for greener energy policies.
Sheinbaum, a Jewish former ballet student who turned student activism into renowned career as physicist and environmentalist, is described by aides as being just as analytical as Lopez Obrador, aged 69.
Lopez Obrador frequently denounces opponents in daily newspapers, while Sheinbaum has adopted a more moderate approach to government governance, emphasizing teamwork.
“As a physicist, it’s not easy to create chaos, and it can be challenging to establish order, particularly when you have broader social goals,” she told Reuters last year.
The president has maintained an approval rating of roughly 60%, making him a key figure in MORENA’s victory campaign.
Sheinbaum must balance his support for Lopez Obrador and innovative proposals as the presidential campaign gains momentum, according to Antonio Ocaranza, a political consultant and former spokesperson for President Ernesto Zedillo.
The importance of social justice cannot be overstated.
The photo on X, previously known as Twitter, depicted Sheinbaum as the center of a protest against subsequently-elected President Carlos Salinas’ 1991 visit to Stanford University.
“Despite the passage of time, I remain haunted by a sense of longing for social justice,” she wrote.
Salinas was responsible for major privatizations after a controversial 1988 election, and Lopez Obrador has consistently identified the policies as the root of modern Mexican inequality.
Following Sheinbaum’s photo, Lopez Obrador initiated a protest march called the “Exodus for Democracy” weeks later, alleging that elections in his native Tabasco state were rigged by Salinas’ Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI).
Lopez Obrador’s journey to Mexico City played a significant role in his rise to national prominence and his first meeting with Sheinbaum after becoming mayor of the city in 2000.
Sheinbaum was appointed as the city’s environment minister by Lopez Obrador, and she became a close confidante. She was elected mayor in 2018 as part of the campaign that secured his victory.
After assuming presidency, her associates and political figures began to recognize her as his political nominee, perceiving her commendable for supporting Lopez Obrador’s endeavor to turn the state into the catalyst for social progress and safeguard the economy.
According to Rene Cervera, a former employee of Ebrard and aide to Sheinbaum, she would be as focused on the economy as Lopez Obrador if she were elected.
Sheinbaum, who was a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and received the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, is keen to exploit Mexico’s renewable energy sources, while Lopez Obrador has invested billions in state oil company Pemex.
“Public investment is a viable option,” Cervera declared.
Diego Ore provided additional reporting, while Aurora Ellis edited.
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