Claudia Sheinbaum : former mayor of Mexico City, new and first woman president of Mexico

HomepoliticsClaudia Sheinbaum : former mayor of Mexico City, new and first woman...

Kenya Nicol

The former mayor of Mexico City, Claudia Sheinbaum, who was elected on Sunday as the first woman president in Mexico’s history, is an experienced politician who had to deal with two major disasters during her tenure at the helm of the capital.

“At home, we talked politics morning, noon and night”

In addition to her own merits, the energy engineering PhD has benefited from the popularity of outgoing president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who brought the left to power in 2018.

Claudia Sheinbaum Pardo was born on June 24, 1962 in Mexico City, to activist parents in the 1960s, when students and guerrillas were trying to overthrow the “perfect dictatorship” of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), hegemonic from 1930 to 2000.

“At home, we talked politics morning, noon and night”, she confided in a biography, “Claudia Sheinbaum, presidenta”. Her mother, Annie Pardo, a biologist, was expelled from university for her participation in the 1968 movement.

“The poor first”

In the highly unequal melting pot that is Mexico, Claudia Sheinbaum, the granddaughter of European Jews, adopts the outgoing president’s slogan, “the poor first”, addressing it in particular to indigenous communities suffering discrimination.

“I come from a Jewish family and I’m proud of my grandparents and my parents”, she wrote on January 12, 2009 in the newspaper La Jornada, expressing her “horror at the images of Israel’s bombardment of Gaza” during a previous military operation. She explains that her maternal grandmother and “communist” paternal grandfather had left Lithuania and Bulgaria to escape “Nazi persecution”.

A brilliant student, Claudia Sheinbaum simultaneously pursued a master’s degree in energy engineering at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) in the 1980s, and actively participated in the University Student Council (CEU) to oppose university reform.

Mayor of Mexico City 2000-2006

Claudia Sheinbaum got her start in politics with the current president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who was mayor of Mexico City from 2000 to 2006. He gave her the environment portfolio, a crucial sector in this megalopolis of nine million inhabitants (in 2023).

The young elected official initiated the construction of the second stage of the ring road to relieve congestion on one of the main urban highways running through Mexico City. Ms. Sheinbaum has also introduced bus lanes and bicycle paths.

Nobel Peace Prize in 2007

Returning to academia in 2006, the Mexican scientist contributed to the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007. Her area of expertise was climate change mitigation.

Returning to politics, she overcame two major disasters during her tenure. As mayor of the Tlalpan district in southern Mexico City (2015-2017), she had to deal with the collapse of Rebsamen College in the earthquake of September 19, 2017, which killed 26 people, including 19 children.

She asserted that City Hall was not responsible for the irregularities in the building’s construction. As Mayor of Mexico City (2018-2023), she also had to deal with the collapse of a sky bridge as the metro passed through the south of the city on May 3, 2021, which caused 26 deaths and 80 injuries.

Objective: to deal with the narco-violence that plagues Mexico

She defended her teams and negotiated compensation for victims with the line’s builders, a company owned by billionaire Carlos Slim, thus avoiding lawsuits. Claudia Sheinbaum tried to manage the pandemic in the capital scientifically and without resorting to coercive measures, even though Mexico City recorded the highest death rate in the country at 442.1 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants, one of the highest in the world.

As head of the capital, Ms. Sheinbaum boasted that she had reduced insecurity through an integral strategy addressing the underlying causes, strengthening and improving police, intelligence, investigation and coordination. As president, she will have to confront the narco-violence that plagues Mexico.

During the campaign, “Claudia” announced her marriage to Jesús Tarriba in November 2023, a childhood sweetheart she had reunited with on Facebook in 2016. In her first marriage, she had married Carlos Imaz, founder of the left-wing PRD party, with whom she had a daughter and whose son she also considers her own child.

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