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Claudia Sheinbaum becomes Mexico’s first female president

In a historic election, Claudia Sheinbaum was elected as Mexico’s first woman president on Sunday, securing a landslide victory. Her win marks a significant milestone for a country beset by widespread criminal and gender-based violence.

Supporters celebrated Sheinbaum’s victory with songs and dances to mariachi music in Mexico City’s main square. “I want to thank millions of Mexican women and men who decided to vote for us on this historic day,” Sheinbaum expressed in her victory speech. “I won’t fail you,” vowed the 61-year-old former mayor of Mexico City. She also acknowledged her main rival, Xochitl Galvez, who conceded defeat gracefully.

Preliminary results from the National Electoral Institute indicate that Sheinbaum, a scientist by training, garnered approximately 58-60% of the vote. This placed her more than 30 percentage points ahead of Galvez and around 50 points ahead of the centrist candidate Jorge Alvarez Maynez.

Despite the threat of violence from ultra-violent drug cartels, voters turned out in large numbers across the nation. The election saw thousands of troops deployed to ensure the safety of voters following a particularly violent campaign season that claimed the lives of more than two dozen aspiring local politicians.

The prospect of electing a woman president was particularly meaningful for many voters. Clemencia Hernandez, a 55-year-old cleaner, expressed hope that a female president would transform the country and advocate more effectively for women. Daniela Perez, 30, highlighted the historic nature of the election, though she remained cautious about the candidates’ commitment to feminist issues.

Sheinbaum’s popularity owes much to outgoing President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, a leftist mentor whose approval rating exceeds 60%. Lopez Obrador congratulated Sheinbaum, noting that she might have garnered the most votes in Mexico’s history. Interestingly, Sheinbaum disclosed that she voted for 93-year-old veteran leftist Ifigenia Martinez to honor her longstanding struggle.

As the new president, Sheinbaum faces the challenge of addressing the intertwining issues of politics, crime, and corruption in Mexico. Drug cartels’ influence was starkly evident with at least 25 political candidates murdered this election season. In one incident, two people were killed in Puebla after an attack on polling stations, and voting was suspended in two Chiapas municipalities due to violence.

Sheinbaum has pledged to continue Lopez Obrador’s controversial “hugs not bullets” strategy, aiming to tackle crime at its roots. In contrast, Galvez advocated for a tougher stance against cartels, declaring that “hugs for criminals are over.”

The next president will also navigate complex relations with the United States, particularly regarding cross-border drug smuggling and migration. In addition to choosing a new president, Mexicans voted for congressional members, state governors, and numerous local officials, totaling over 20,000 positions.

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