Fri Jul 12, 2024
July 12, 2024

Mexican Elections: What to Expect from the First Woman President?

 By Socialist Workers’ Current (Corriente Socialista de los Trabajadores, Mexico)

The international press has emphasized that it is a major accomplishment that a woman has been elected president for the first time in Mexico, a country which, among other problems, suffers from a high rate of femicides, disappeared women and sexist violence. Every day, between 9 and 10 women are murdered and an average of 18 women disappear in Mexico. The majority of these crimes go unpunished because sexism permeates all of the state’s institutions, from the police and security forces to the judges presiding in courts.

Local press, as well as some international outlets (particularly in Latin America) have hailed Claudia Sheinbaum as a feminist and a “leftist.”

The newly-elected president was an activist as a university student, and started her political career early alongside outgoing-president Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), whom she has always accompanied throughout her career, taking up important roles during AMLO’s tenure as the governor of Mexico City and supporting him in his electoral campaigns. Later she would be the head of Tlalpan, a municipality in Mexico City, before becoming the Head of Government of the capital city, and now the president of the entire nation.

Across these various offices that she has held, has Sheinbaum left behind a track record of action in favor of women’s rights?

Claudia Sheinbaum calls herself a feminist. Her slogan at the beginning of her presidential campaign was “I didn’t get here alone, we [women] all got here together” (“No llego sola, llegamos todas”), and her speeches have always included statements to win women’s support of her campaigns. But in the end this is just empty rhetoric, because “we [women] didn’t all get here.”

In the five years that Sheinbaum governed Mexico City, the rate of women’s disappearances jumped twelve-fold. It is the region of the country that records the highest number of disappeared women in the entire country. Per the National Registry of Disappeared and Missing People (Registro Nacional de Personas Desaparecidas y No Localizadas, RNPDNO), 2060 women disappeared in Mexico City between 2019 and 2023, an increase of 1,567% over the prior six-year period.

However, facing such horrific statistics and the “needs” of the election season, AMLO ordered that the Registry be “revised and updated.” By an administrative writ, the 110,000 missing people tracked by the Registry dropped to 12,000. Which is to say, the administration whose legacy Sheinbaum upholds and is predicted to continue decided to make the disappeared, among them thousands of women, disappear again.

Across the six years of AMLO’s presidential term, the number of disappeared women was 161.6% larger than in the prior six years.

Omar Garcia Harfuch, the Secretary of Civilian Security (the police) of Mexico City under Sheinbaum, and who has now been elected senator (although Sheinbaum even considered him as a running partner at one point), presented doctored data in order to brag about a 41.5% decrease in femicides and to strengthen his boss’s campaign. This “data” is a grotesque distortion of reality when we recall that only 25% of women who died violently are officially categorized and investigated as femicides. Further, the total number of women killed in the city has increased over the past five years, as well as the total number of violent deaths due to unknown causes. It is clear that the decrease in the number of femicides is just statistical whitewashing.

Sheinbaum has already announced that she intends to implement similar policies relating to the protection of women at the federal level. Which is to say, to continue scrubbing the data and neglecting to classify cases as femicides in order to protect the reputation of the dominant ideology of sexism in Mexican society, upheld by her government, by her party, and by AMLO who promoted her candidacy.

Throughout her campaign and after her victory, there has been no shortage of denunciations criticizing her misleading reputation as a defender of women’s rights. The magazine Proceso wrote: “Feminist collectives, journalists, writers and activists have criticized Claudia Sheinbaum Pardo, president elect of Mexico, identifying her with militarization and criticizing her record as Governor of Mexico City, which has seen femicides, disappearances, and the repression of feminist protests.”

Activists criticize Sheinbaum’s policies for not addressing femicides or disappearances, nor other forms of violence against women, especially those that occur at workplaces or in schools. She was identified as the person responsible for repression against feminist marches during her term as governor. As a wave of femicides crossed the city, she chose to repress the youth who marched against the government’s indifference. She chose to protect monuments and the order of law to benefit the capitalists rather than to protect the lives and safety of women. Riot police were called to put down the righteous fury of the youth protests who marched for their friends, daughters, and mothers who have been murdered or disappeared.

Throughout her political terms, she has always privileged attracting investments, and always tried to present the place as a safe and orderly locale for capitalist exploitation. To this end, she did not shy away from seeking private investments to fund public services, to suppress salaries, to negotiate with famously corrupt yellow unions against the interests of the workers. She named Garcia Harfuch as head of the city police, despite the fact that he is complicit in covering up what happened regarding the disappearance of 43 students in Ayotzinapa. Gender has never been an important issue for Sheinbaum, her policies have always prioritized the capitalist class first and foremost.

Sheinbaum and Working women

The same day that Sheinbaum became governor of Mexico City, she named her friend, businesswoman Florencia Serrania as director of the popular STC-Metro, the most important transit network in the city, funded by the government. Florencia Serrania was a partner of a private transport company that provides various transport system services. Serrania’s first consequential “investment” in the Metro was to install machines for the sale and refilling of tickets for transit services, which meant closing the box offices where these had been sold. 2200 workers, 99% of them women, worked at these box offices, and many of them were the primary breadwinners of their households. By this measure, these women are now at risk of being fired or abruptly reassigned. Data concerning their employment and salaries was promised but never published. Throughout Sheinbaum’s entire term, these workers have seen their rights violated, and have found themselves consigned to a position of permanent instability. They have been the victims of discrimination and abuse. We can also note the question of cleaning the metro, which is carried out by thousands of workers facing precarious conditions, the majority of them women who lacking social security. Sheinbaum ignored working women and protected her friend, the businesswoman. She was not chosen for her gender, she was chosen for her class.

The case of schoolteachers and professors in Mexico City is another example of Sheinbaum’s habit of repressing the salaries of a majority-female workforce. The capital city teachers’ anger reached a boiling point last December, with a strike and mobilizations throughout the city. They were organized as the National Coordinator of Education Workers (Coordinadora Nacional de Trabajadores de Educacion, CNTE), facing down the yellow union (SNTE) with whom Sheinbaum had negotiated pitiful salaries.

The mobilization of Mexico City teachers combined with the general indignation of teachers across the country, who have been made the fools and victims of the six years of AMLO’s administration. The CNTE organized a strike at the national level, and has maintained a presence in the city center of Mexico City (el Zocalo), showing the lie of Sheinbaum’s campaign’s closing ceremonies and her post-victory celebrations. Many teachers and professors participated in the actions for days upon days, and continue to shout “On the campaign you said everything would change/That’s a lie that’s a lie, everything’s the same” (“Dijeron en campaña que todo cambiaría. Mentira, mentira, es la misma porquería”). Among them was the Secretary of the General Section 22 of the CNTE (Oaxaca), which faced tear gas and police batons together with other comrades exiting the National palace following an interview with AMLO.

The first woman president in Mexico is the result of decades of struggle by Mexican women, as well as the struggles of women around the world, which have forced the bourgeoisie to pragmatically hand power to women candidates. The right-wing opposition campaign did the same thing, also running a woman for president. Both parties understand the usefulness of running women candidates to win votes.

Sheinbaum also benefited from AMLO’s endorsement, choosing her as his successor for her loyalty, discipline, obedience, and for being “quiet.” This is all according to the interests of the big bourgeoisie that pull the strings. Sheinbaum has promised that she will play her part. Her government will continue the work of its predecessor, whose mandate in 2018 was to “keep the tiger [of the mass movements] pinned down,” a mandate they have followed through on. Sheinbaum promises now to “continue the work” whereby the rich were made richer than under any prior government. An effort in which Sheinbaum has already participated as the Head of Government of the capital.

Thus, from the perspective of Washington, from the perspective of the institutions of global imperialism, from the perspective of the financial conglomerates and corporations international and Mexican alike–and among them, the drug cartels–AMLO has satisfied his promises and they thus will continue to support his faithful successor. They have already seen that when push comes to shove, she chooses the side of the powerful, of the business owners, of the bosses with money. She will not focus her efforts on fighting against the violence against women, against indigenous peoples, against queer people, against the displaced, against the immigrants or against the environment. She will not fight sexism, xenophobia, misogyny, racism, discrimination, or abuse, not within her party and not as the government. She has already proven this.

We cannot simply cross our arms and wait. The fight for women’s liberation and that of other oppressed groups must continue. To win victories in this struggle, we need to organize ourselves politically to fight independently from the parties of Mexican semicolonial capital. To do this, we need to unite the working class in the fight against sexism in the trade unions and to build workers’ power. As the CST, the Socialist Workers’ Tendency, as part of the International Workers’ League, we call on everyone to support us in this important task.

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