Claudia Sheinbaum (Mexico City, 1962), scientist, academic at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (Unam), political activist and former head of government of Mexico City, is the candidate of the National Regeneration Movement (Morena) for President of the Mexico. She will be the one who will run in the general elections to be held in 2024.
The former head of government of the capital won the survey that her party proposed as a way of choosing its candidate for the next general elections and to succeed the current president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, in the Presidency of the Republic for the next six years if, As polls predict, it will triumph.
Claudia Sheinbaum faces a big challenge. There is no doubt about that. And, to face it, she has the appropriate academic training and political trajectory. Due to his academic background, it is important to mention that Sheinbaum studied a degree in physics, completed a master’s and doctorate in energy engineering at Unam and spent time at the University of California, in the United States. She has worked as a researcher at the Unam Engineering Institute since 1995.
Her first contacts with political practice took place in the student struggle at Unam, when, as a student at the Faculty of Sciences, she participated in the 1986-1987 movement in defense of public education and against the increase in student fees.
It was only in 2000 that she accepted a position as Secretary of the Environment in the city government, then governed by the current president of Mexico. It was at this stage that she established a working relationship and political commitment with López Obrador, who counted on her in his first presidential campaign in 2006.
After the elections were considered fraudulent, López Obrador established a civil resistance movement and asked Sheinbaum to take charge of organizing the popular structure in defense of national heritage (known as the Adelitas). In 2012, in her second campaign for the Presidency, she was proposed for the Environment portfolio, if she won the elections. But the election was won by the PRI candidate and the academic returned to her research work at Unam.
In 2014, she returned to the political arena after founding Morena; In 2015, she ran for and won the Mayor of Tlalpan, which she would hold until 2018, when she began to manage, after being elected, the head of Mexico City, of which she was in charge until 2023.
From her administration, we can extract some ideas about the profile of the former head of government. The academic, trained in physics and ecology, paid special attention to the environment and sought to expand the clean and sustainable public transport network (Metrobus, trolleybus, cycle paths); In line with the student demands of her youth, during her management, scholarships were granted to low-income students and a program was implemented to bring extracurricular training to marginalized areas: community training spaces known as Pillars.
A shadow must be added to the lights of this management: in 2021, there was an accident on metro line 12 in which 27 people lost their lives. Although this line was designed and built during the previous administration, Sheinbaum’s administration was accused of not providing sufficient maintenance due to austerity policies.
In short, the trajectory of the candidate for president of the Republic of the United Mexican States gives us an idea of who is the woman who can assume the greatest political responsibility in the country. A woman who, I don’t omit to mention, is also the mother of two children: Mariana, currently a postdoctoral student at the Institute for Philosophical Research at UNAM, and Rodrigo, who studied Visual Arts at UNAM and dedicates himself to documentary cinema.
Many national and foreign media reported her status as a woman. In fact, we must congratulate ourselves on the fact that, after centuries of struggle (let us not forget that in 1791 Olympia de Gouges wrote the Declaration of the Rights of Women and Citizens), women have been occupying spaces of representation and decision-making policies, and we should also congratulate ourselves on the fact that parity has been incorporated into the Mexican Constitution.
It is to be expected that his administration, if he wins the elections, will be sensitive to the sincere demands of women and feminized bodies, in continuity with his work at the Head of Government of Mexico City. Although, from my point of view, it is not her status as a woman that is relevant.
There were (and are) other women occupying positions of political representation that are insensitive to gender issues. Let’s think of Margaret Thatcher, for example.
What is really significant about the fact that she is a woman occupying the highest position in the Republic is, firstly, that her career can be an example for women, for young women in this country: yes, women can; Yes, women have the effective right (not just on paper) to exercise political representation. For all, and especially for those who suffer violence and conditions of labor, social and economic inequality, the young woman who was part of the student movement in the 1980s would, if she were president, have the possibility of implementing equality policies and plans, inclusion programs and, fundamentally, programs against gender-based violence.
These policies can be implemented by a president or a president without distinction; however, in Sheinbaum’s case, this is to be expected, as she herself suffered sexist attacks.
In fact, it is surprising that critics of the aspiring President sow doubts about her capacity for free, responsible and committed agency, pointing out, in a characteristically misogynistic gesture, that she is nothing more than a puppet in the hands of the current President of the Republic. There is no doubt that Andrés Manuel López Obrador is a charismatic leader. With his retirement from political life, he will leave a significant void in the left-wing movement that he founded and led from 2014 to today.
Today, after receiving the “stick of command”, Claudia Sheinbaum’s first challenge is to build, within the movement, a new leadership, a leadership with its own brand. Her biggest challenge, in the medium term, will be to lead the Republic based on the principles of this new leadership.