Who is Claudia Sheinbaum, the first female president in Mexico. The challenges that await you


By John

Claudia Sheinbaum she made history by becoming the first woman to win the presidential elections in Mexico and, starting from October 1, when she takes office, she will begin her contribution to the “fourth transformation”, the reform agenda launched by the outgoing president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

An engineer, with a Nobel Peace Prize 'on her CV', Sheinbaum is a former mayor of the capital and protégé of Lopez Obrador. Sheinbaum had won the primaries of the National Regeneration Movement (Morena), the party of the president, unable to run again due to term limits. He promised to govern in continuity with Lopez Obrador, riding the strong popularity of the outgoing president. However, her training as a scientist and her environmentalist positions may distance her from her mentor.

Graduated in physics, then specialized in energy engineering, until 2013 she was a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the main international body for the assessment of climate change, who obtained the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007. Already during the Covid-19 pandemic, while the president downplayed the risks, she wore a mask, closed bars and nightclubs and pushed for vaccines and swabs. Her commitment to increasing renewable energy clashes with the policies of Lopez Obrador, who has focused on fossil fuels and supported the relaunch of the state oil company Pemex.

Sixty-one years old, Sheinbaum entered politics in 2000 as an environmental councilor, when the mayor of Mexico City was Lopez Obrador, the man who by her own admission taught her how to govern. He is firmly on the left: he has often echoed the current president's invectives against the neoliberal economic policies of previous governments, blaming them for the country's deep inequality and high levels of violence.

She does not have the same charisma as the current head of state, but she was able to exploit her position as mayor of the capital, from 2018 to 2023, to draw attention to herself with free concerts by popular bands, good security management, which has brought down the homicide rate, and full sharing of the social agenda promoted by the president. She managed to politically survive the public transport crisis in Mexico City, where a series of accidents between 2021 and 2023 killed dozens of people.

From Lopez Obrador's less confrontational posture, analysts believe that Sheinbaum will prefer dialogue to confrontation with the business world. He will have to immediately address the problem of violence and crime: around 450,000 have been killed and 100,000 missing since former president Felipe Calderon launched the army against the cartels in 2006. Other challenges awaiting Mexico's first female president include continuing social programs, mitigating the effects of global warming and managing the intense and complex relationship with the United States.