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Claudia Sheinbaum elected president of Mexico

Mexico has now officially accomplished what many people in the United States have only dreamed of, though we came close once. Yesterday, Mexican citizens went to the polls in record numbers and elected Claudia Sheinbaum, the country's first female president. The outcome was never really in question, at least in terms of gender because both major parties nominated a woman this year. This election is of greater interest to Americans than normal given Mexico's proximity to the United States and its deep involvement with our immigration situation as well as the flow of drugs and human trafficking into our country. Sheinbaum will have plenty of issues awaiting her on her plate, not least of which is the ongoing situation with the cartels in her country.

From the NY Post:

Claudia Sheinbaum won a landslide victory to become Mexico’s first female president, inheriting the project of her mentor and outgoing leader Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador whose popularity among the poor helped drive her triumph.

Sheinbaum, a climate scientist and former mayor of Mexico City, won the presidency with between 58.3% and 60.7% of the vote, according to a rapid sample count by Mexico’s electoral authority.

That is set to be the highest vote tally percentage in Mexico’s democratic history.

Mexico now joins more than sixty countries around the world that have elected female presidents or prime ministers as their leaders. The first was Vigdis Finbogadottir, who became Iceland's head of state in 1980. It's also notable that Sheinbaum is the first elected female leader in North America, as Canada has also never placed a woman in their government's highest office.

One of the obvious questions on our side of the border is whether or not Mexico's relationship with the United States will now change or if their official policies will shift. That seems unlikely, as Sheinbaum is a follower of outgoing President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and had his endorsement during the race. That may not necessarily be good news because relations between the U.S. and Mexico have soured during the Biden administration. The levels of cooperation we've seen in terms of immigration issues and trade have decreased as compared to how things operated during the Trump years.

Sheinbaum also faces a list of challenges at home if she intends to keep the promises she made during the campaign. She vowed to increase social welfare payments, but Mexico is already facing a steep budget deficit. She promised to improve security and law enforcement during the most violent election in her country's history. Across the country, there were 38 candidates murdered during this election season. She will face steep budget challenges in beefing up law enforcement and military staffing needed to deal with the cartels. That situation is already complicated by Lopez Obrador's known ties to some of the cartels.

Some analysts are already speculating that Sheinbaum would prefer to deal with Joe Biden than Donald Trump. That is perhaps understandable because Biden is easier to push around and hasn't made the same demands of Mexico that Trump did. Trump has already promised to lock down the situation on the border if he returns to office. The American president can exert a lot of pressure on Mexico in terms of trade deals and imports if he wishes to and Sheinbaum likely isn't looking forward to dealing with that sort of pressure if Trump returns to office.

The best way to impress her neighbors to the north would be for the new president to seriously crack down on the cartels, something Lopez Obrador almost entirely failed to do. The murder rate in Mexico reached record levels under his tenure, with more than 185,000 people being killed while he was in office. He frequently spoke of the importance of shutting down the cartels' fentanyl operations, yet the volume of drugs showing up in the United States never seemed to decrease. Any politician can talk a good game on the campaign trail, but Mexico desperately needs someone who can deliver. Here's to hoping that Claudia Sheinbaum will be that person.

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