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Claudia Sheinbaum becomes first woman, Jew to lead Mexico as country struggles with rising cartel violence

Sheinbaum is from a secular Jewish family and has not publicly commented on Israel

Claudia Sheinbaum, elected president of Mexico for the MORENA party, is going to the Zocalo in Mexico City, Mexico, on June 3, 2024. (Photo: Gerardo Vieyra/NurPhoto

The former mayor of Mexico City, Claudia Sheinbaum, won the recent election and will become Mexico’s next president. Sheinbaum will be the first woman and the first Jew to become president of the predominantly Catholic nation. 

Sheinbaum, who is expected to continue the leftist legacy of outgoing President Andres Manuel López Obrador, won about 58-60% of the votes, according to the National Electoral Institute. 

While Sheinbaum beat out her opponent by around 30 percentage points, the fact that both candidates are women is seen by many as a sign of change. 

Thousands of troops were deployed to protect polling stations across the country as drug cartel violence led to more than two dozen local political candidates being murdered. The drug cartels have a history of using violence to ensure that their preferred candidates win in elections, particularly in local elections. 

Official government figures reported the deaths of at least 25 political candidates during this election cycle, while the Spanish newspaper El País claimed that 37 candidates were murdered.

Sheinbaum pledged, “I won’t fail you,” and thanked the “millions of Mexican women and men who decided to vote for us on this historic day.” 

The winning candidate also promised to honor the women who supported her election.

“I do not arrive alone, all of us women have arrived here,” Sheinbaum stated. “Mexico has shown that it is a democratic country with peaceful elections.”

Obrador congratulated his political partner with “all my affection and respect,” and noted that Sheinbaum will be “the president with possibly the most votes obtained in the history of our country.” 

Sheinbaum has vowed to use a soft approach to tackling crime at the root, while her political opponent, Xóchitl Gálvez, promised she would end the soft approach, declaring “hugs for criminals are over.” 

The National Regeneration Movement (Morena) party, led by Sheinbaum, along with its allies from the Labor Party and the Greens, won a qualified majority of the Congress and possibly the Senate. 

The win represents a significant victory for the young political party, which Sheinbaum helped to found. 

Sheinbaum is from a secular Jewish family with both Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jewish roots. Her maternal, Sephardic grandparents fled Bulgaria in the early 1940s, at the beginning of the Holocaust. 

She has reportedly not publicly commented on the war in Gaza and the impact her presidency could have on relations between Mexico and Israel remains to be seen.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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