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Mexico’s upcoming election: Don’t underestimate Mexico

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In a February press conference, Speaker of the House, Mike Johnson, responded to questions about U.S.-Mexico relations and the increase in migration. “We’re the United States, Mexico will do what we say,” Johnson said, implying Mexico to be inferior. This arrogant comment perpetuates the well established narrative that Mexico is a  lesser country and should be looked down on. 

A quick look at Mexico’s elections this year will convince you that Mexico is not a country to be overlooked, but rather admired for its progressive path toward change. Mexico will make history this June with the election of their first female president.

June 2, 2024 will be a historic day in Mexico, with voters electing the president, senators and local officials. The two presidential candidates in a close race for presidency are Xóchitl Gálvez — a left-leaning candidate from the PAN party — and Claudia Sheinbaum — a Morena party member. Both candidates have STEM backgrounds; Gálvez holds a degree in computer science and Sheinbaum has a doctorate in engineering, and has even spent time at a UC Berkeley lab learning about energy use in Mexico. According to recent polls, Sheinbaum is the leading candidate for this election, her progressive goals reflect Mexico’s potential and serve as a beacon of hope for the future. 

Sheinbaum, a 61-year-old Jewish woman and former mayor of Mexico City, is well qualified for the presidency with her extensive political career and education. Sheinbaum maintains a platform of science and reinvesting in the Mexican people through the fight against administrative corruption. Sheinbaum’s campaign also prioritizes the expansion and investment in public transportation, as well as the promotion of sustainability.

Sheinbaum’s ambitious agenda may appear to be a list of empty promises politicians typically make to attract voters, yet her record as mayor of Mexico City backs up her platform claims. As mayor, she supported science during the COVID-19 pandemic by shutting down public establishments as well as increasing testing and vaccination rates for the city. Sheinbaum is also recognized for launching electric “Metrobus” lines in the city which contributes to a reduction of carbon emissions and increases transportation options. 

The fact that Mexico will be electing its first female president with a strong background in science and technology speaks multitudes. When compared to the election situation in the U.S., it is difficult not to note how much Mexico is outperforming. The U.S. is at a dead end. In November, we will witness an exact repeat of the 2020 election — both presidential candidates, Biden and Trump have received extensive criticism and are considered to be unfavorable candidates among voters. The victory of Trump will set the U.S. back with the threat of Project 2025, but the election of Biden will leave us in the same position we are now, with the same set of concerns and issues. 

It is time to stop overlooking Mexico’s potential and disregarding the country as inferior. Sheinbaum’s past work and plans for Mexico highlight the country’s potential and why it is crucial we pay close attention to these elections.  

Sheinbaum is not the only symbol of Mexico’s potential and upcoming growth. The amount of Americans choosing to relocate to Mexico contradicts the narrative of Mexico that is told. Mexico is frequently painted in the media as a lawless, corrupt and crime-heavy country. However, the surge of Americans relocating to Mexico for a better life challenges this stereotypical image of Mexico. Despite this narrative of Mexico being home to criminals, many international visitors have reported feeling safe in Mexico. The truth is that not all portions of Mexico are dangerous, and the danger varies by location, similar to the U.S. 

While Mexico has a long way to go in terms of reducing overall poverty, crime and corruption, these upcoming elections represent the country’s journey to progress. Claudia Sheinbaum represents change by being on her way to becoming Mexico’s first woman president and running on a progressive platform, which is something to celebrate. The media frequently concentrates on the negative aspects of Mexico, contributing to the idea that the country is too far gone for change. However, these elections will have Mexico demonstrating to the world that it is a force to be reckoned with.

Zahira Vasquez is a Spring 2024 Opinion Apprentice. She can be reached at zivasque@uci.edu

Edited by Trista Lara and Annabelle Aguirre.