Random notes about the Mexican election


While it may appear to be desirable that former Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum win the presidential election to avoid the threat to international solidarity that a return of the right (this time under Xóchitl Gálvez, who was a member of Vicente Fox’s cabinet) forebodes, Sheinbaum offers little for women, for the left, for the environment, or for the poor and working-class people who are the overwhelming majority in Mexico.

Claudia Sheinbaum

Sheinbaum has, since initiating her presidential campaign, made constant reference to herself as a symbol for women leaders. But, as the feminist website lacaderadeeva.com (Eve’s hip) reports, her relationship with women’s protests has been cynical at best. There are demonstrations, each one bigger than the previous year’s, every March 8, International Women’s Day, in Mexican cities. In Mexico and other parts of Latin America, the marches have recently focused on violence against women, including police violence. And in the fall of 2019, after an under-aged woman in the Mexico City district of Azcapotzalco was raped by several police officers, the tone of women’s marches became progressively less pacifist, with an especially militant march featuring vandalism, controlled burnings, the partial burning of a police station in the Zona Rosa, and the chant “La policía no nos cuida; nosotras nos cuidamos” (“the police don’t take care of us; women take care of each other”). Sheinbaum on this occasion sent female police officers to be cannon fodder and to protect the sacred police station from the feminist hordes. When a few of the women cops got pushed, the then-mayor debuted what would become her disingenuous refrain in these situations: “I can’t believe women are attacking other women!”
On the eve of the 2022 International Women’s Day march, Sheinbaum and her mentor, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, along with their functionaries, whipped out sensationalist warnings that they must have learned from the police who trained other police in “Seattle tactics” in the late ‘90s in the U.S.: The president called for the protest to be peaceful and said he had reports that women were bringing Molotov cocktails to the march. Martí Batres, then the top cabinet official in Sheinbaum’s government, now substitute mayor, displayed “rockets” confiscated by the police which turned out to be benign fireworks that merely shoot colors. Sheinbaum then announced that “the police will not repress; they will merely encapsule” (kettle or contain) groups within the march that seem intent on violence. As La Cadera de Eva put it: “Though Sheinbaum has tried to play the gender card as a political strategy, people have not forgotten that during all her term, she had a complicated relationship with the feminist movement. In every march, organized women were repressed with pepper gas, encapsulated, and stigmatized.”
As environment secretary to then-mayor López Obrador, she promoted and carried out the construction of an upper level of the biggest highway in the city with no environmental mitigation efforts: no mass transit lanes, no carpool lanes, no bike lanes.
In Sheinbaum’s five years as mayor, air pollution increased and, though 70% of this is caused by cars while only 20% of the people own cars, she and her group have refused to implement effective restrictions on driving.
As her police chief, Sheinbaum chose Omar García Harfuch, a former federal police head in Guerrero, the state where the 43 students from the teacher’s college in Tixtla (Ayotzinapa) disappeared. Sheinbaum’s appointee Harfuch has tried to avoid responsibility by saying that just days before the students’ disappearance, he had been transferred to another state. However, he was still the person designated to receive reports and new evidence indicates that he was present at a meeting shortly after the atrocity at which state, local and federal officials planned a cover-up. Sheinbaum promoted his improvised candidacy for mayor. When that failed she supported him for senator, and also says she plans to name him to a federal law enforcement post and have him serve a day in the senate (in order to have immunity from prosecution?) and then take a leave of absence.
When Hugo López-Gatell, the federal coordinator of anti-Covid efforts, asked that Mexico City return to more restrictions tending toward a new closure of businesses in the city in December 2020, when cases were rising steeply, and this only after procrastinating for several crucial weeks to avoid hurting Christmas season sales, Sheinbaum took a more Trumpish position, claiming that the city was being “punished” because better reporting made it look like the city had more cases. She also arranged, very early on, for bar owners to pretend to be restaurateurs. Just like in New York, except that more bars in Mexico City are mob-owned and fewer have something called a kitchen.
So much for the “left” candidate. Three center and right parties have been in coalition since shortly after López Obrador’s victory. Their candidate, Xóchitl Gálvez, started out strong when her humorous way of responding to attacks from López Obrador propelled her in the polls. This allowed her to project herself as nonpartisan, different from the corrupt or conservative politicians who dominate in the parties that comprise her coalition. She has since made more obvious her links to two of Mexico’s worst former presidents, Vicente Fox and Felipe Calderón. Like them, she is a proponent of iron-fist anti-crime policies which led to tens of thousands of deaths during Calderón’s presidency.
While Gálvez “rested,” waiting for the official campaign season to start, she took a tour of Europe—Spain and Italy, anyway—to visit with Calderón, the pope, the king of Spain, and leaders of the neo-fascist, pro-Franco right-wing of Spain.
Given this pessimistic panorama for electoral politics, it was inevitable that something like the U.S. campaigns in favor of writing in “ceasefire” or “uncommitted” would take hold in Mexico. On Sunday, April 14, parents of the 43 missing education students and organizations in the Asamblea Nacional Popular who share the opinion that López Obrador and his team (including, of course, Sheinbaum and Harfuch) have done nothing in the way of bringing justice and have insulted the families of the students and the human rights groups that work with them, made an announcement: They are calling for a boycott of the election. Their statement reads in part:
“Our struggle continues; we will expand the protests incorporating other sectors, including teachers, campesinos, and indigenous people … We cannot allow the system of political parties to carry out its electoral feast with vacuous discourses when the parents of the 43 suffer the pain of not knowing where their sons are … It is inconceivable that among the 100 campaign points of the candidate of the Morena Party (Claudia Sheinbaum) there is not a single mention of the case of Ayotzinapa. We are not members of nor obedient to any political party.”

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