Thursday, April 18, 2024

¡Presidenta! Claudia versus Xóchitl in 2024

It’s finally official!

Mexico’s leading presidential candidates for 2024 have been announced, and with that news, an amazing prospect: Mexico’s next president will be a woman!

Wow! Before we get to all the “but…but…but…”s, can we just take a minute to talk about how amazing this is? 

There we go. Thank you.

Though many will claim that feminism and various women’s movements have more than done their duty in the world, the actual numbers of women who gain any positions of  power on a societal level tell a different story. 

So say what you will about Morena (the party of the current president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador), but since coming to power in such a major way in 2018, political gender parity has taken great leaps and bounds in Mexico, from a woman Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, to my local friend who travels all over the state assisting in emergencies while her partner stays home as the primary caregiver. 

And by the way, Mexico’s Supreme Court also just decriminalized abortion, meaning the states that have yet to do so will need to change their criminal codes. For now, it’s in the kind of legal limbo that marijuana possession is…not exactly legal (in most states), but also not punishable with jail time since a landmark 2021 Supreme Court ruling. It’s an important start.

I know that having a woman president probably won’t be earth-shattering. After all, we can’t expect it to solve Mexico’s problem with sexism any more than having a black president solved the United States’ problem with racism.

It also won’t prevent people from trotting out, as they did during the 2016 U.S. presidential election, their own disclaimers to prove they’re both non-sexist and Smart Discerning People: “Look, I’m all for a woman president, but these particular women are very flawed.” 

Sigh.

Still though, representation matters, and for millions of girls and women in Mexico – indeed, all over the world – seeing another woman head of state, especially in a country as important on a global scale as Mexico, is going to be a Very Big Deal.

So, what about these candidates?  

Claudia, we mostly know. And Claudia will almost certainly be the winner of the presidency, as the Morena party has shown no signs of losing enough popularity to not win in a landslide. The people (mostly) love AMLO (as the current president is known), and Claudia is his protégé. 

What kind of leader would she be? She’s been a wisely careful Morena politician, always careful not to contradict the current much-loved president. Unlike many women in power, she’s mostly avoided the usual labels of “hysterical” and “incompetent.” She’s smart. She knows not to place herself as an alternative to AMLO, but rather as a prettier, younger, emotionally steadier extension of his most popular policies and programs who will continue la cuarta transformación (“the fourth transformation”, often written shorthand as “4T”) of Mexico.

Even so, my hopes for her saying “Anyway, let’s set ourselves to the business of making things right,” especially in terms of the environment, are high. I also have high hopes for a more on-the-ground approach to women’s rights. I certainly wouldn’t expect her to accuse women protesting for their rights as “conservative feminists,” which is an oxymoron if I ever heard one.

Xóchitl Gálvez, from what little I know of her, seems like an admirable person. Her joke a while back that the current president, who couldn’t seem to stop talking (negatively) about her, was her campaign manager gave me a good chuckle. But how would she govern? We’ve got a bit of information, and I’ll be very curious to get to know her better as a candidate as the campaigns gear up.

So far, the main argument of the “Broad Front for Mexico” (the FAM) coalition is that they’re not Morena. But standing against something is hardly a platform. As Kate Bohné, our editor asked recently in her excellent Substack The Mexpatriate, what exactly do they stand for? Ideologically, this is a coalition made up of radically clashing beliefs, so it’s hard to say what direction actual policies would take in the country. The PAN (the party she belongs to) and the PRI, too, have fairly tarnished reputations.

I’m a little wary of Gálvez too because of her party’s association with the conservative movement in Mexico. (“March for the Family” anyone?) Her biggest job during the campaign will be to show us who she is, what she stands for, and what kinds of policies she would fight for as president. Will she take a page from the U.S. Republican party and fan the culture wars at the expense of “the real issues”? What does she think of the textbooks? What does she think of abortion rights? What are her views on poverty? Is she one of those, “if I could do it, anyone can” type of people? 

AMLO’s big selling point, much like Obama’s, was hope. Will she be able to make people hopeful about their future?

Much remains to be seen. But right now, Mexico is continuing to show the world what human female leadership looks like. 

For now, let’s just celebrate.

Sarah DeVries is a writer and translator based in Xalapa, Veracruz. She can be reached through her website, sarahedevries.substack.com.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Mexico News Daily, its owner or its employees.

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