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Mexico elects first female president

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Claudia Sheinbaum, scientist-turned-politician, was elected Sunday as Mexico’s first female president, shattering gender barriers in a country known for a culture of machismo and high rates of violence against women.

“In 200 years of the Mexican republic, I have become the first woman president,” she told supporters in her acceptance speech, describing her victory as a win for all women. “I did not arrive alone,” she said. “We all arrived.”

The leftist former mayor of Mexico City, Sheinbaum, 62, will also become the first president of Jewish ancestry in this overwhelmingly Catholic country.

She obtained between 58.3% and 60.7% of the vote, according to a statistical sample used to conduct the quick count. It was announced early Monday morning by Guadalupe Taddei Zavala of Mexico’s National Electoral Institute. Taddei Zavala said the tally is 95% reliable.

Sheinbaum, a member of the governing Morena party, will have an important role in resolving issues that are a priority to the U.S. such as immigration and foreign affairs, as well as determining the future of the trade deal that has made Mexico the United States’ largest trade partner.

Mexico’s National Electoral Institute projected a voter turnout of about 60%, according to the quick count, said Taddei Zavala.

She is largely expected to follow in the footsteps of her mentor, outgoing President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

The leftist Morena party López Obrador founded has come to dominate Mexican politics since 2018, when he was elected by a landslide.

Sheinbaum has promised to keep in place welfare policies and social programs that have helped Morena retain a solid approval rating from voters.

When it comes to combating the country’s high levels of violence, Sheinbaum has said she plans on continuing her predecessor’s “hugs, not bullets” policy of not directly taking on criminal organizations that have gained control over large parts of Mexico as they fight for territory to traffic drugs into the U.S., make money from migrant smuggling and extort residents to fuel their illicit enterprise.

López Obrador’s policy has not significantly helped reduce killings over the past six years, as Mexican government data shows that at least 102,400 homicides have been reported in that period. But the data also shows that the strategy of López Obrador’s predecessors — pursuing drug lords in an all-out war — did not improve safety either.

In a slight departure from López Obrador’s stances, Sheinbaim has called throughout her presidential campaign for a greater use of renewable energy.

Though, despite the historic nature of Sheinbaum’s victory, many voters in Mexico see it less as a reflection of gender equality and more as a referendum on the last six years of Andrés Manuel López Obrador, colloquially known by his initials as AMLO.

 

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