Claudia Sheinbaum, AMLO’s protégé, elected president of Mexico

The Morena party of Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, known as AMLO, won a resounding victory in Sunday’s general elections, with its results described as a “landslide” or “tsunami” in the corporate media.

Claudia Sheinbaum, Zocalo Plaza, Mexico City [Photo by EneasMX / CC BY 4.0]

Claudia Sheinbaum, a climate scientist who until recently governed Mexico City, was elected president with 58.8 percent of the vote. Once all votes are tallied, she is expected to surpass the 30.1 million votes received in 2018 by her mentor, López Obrador, who was limited to a single term in office by Mexico’s constitution.

According to the preliminary results, the ruling coalition led by Morena is also expected to increase its seats in Congress, reaching a two-thirds supermajority in the House of Deputies and close to one in the Senate. The ruling party is also expected to prevail in four additional state governments, extending its control to 25 out of Mexico’s 32 states, including the capital, Mexico City.

Despite receiving a distant 28.2 percent, Xóchitl Gálvez, the right-wing candidate supported by a coalition of the traditional oligarchic parties (PRI-PAN-PRD), initially declared herself the victor, raising the specter of an attempted coup and a social eruption in response. However, after the Business Coordinating Committee (CCE), the top employers’ association, congratulated Sheinbaum and called on the opposition to strive for “unity” nationally, Gálvez backpedaled and acknowledged her defeat. 

Jorge Álvarez Máynez of the Citizens’ Movement, which dubiously styles itself as “center-left,” reached 10.5 percent of the presidential vote. 

Predictably, the corporate media in Mexico and internationally has focused its commentary on Mexico’s election of its first female president, suggesting fraudulently that this milestone will somehow open the door to a more democratic and socially conscientious form of capitalist rule.

While Sheinbaum, an accomplished scientist, made a more appealing candidate than the at times shrill and cartoonish “tech entrepreneur” Gálvez, the vote mostly reflected the ongoing popularity of AMLO.

The results expressed a persistent popular hatred for the right-wing record of austerity, corruption, repression and subservience to US imperialism associated with AMLO’s predecessors. Masses of workers and youth seek a radical expansion of the limited social programs initiated under Morena, which consisted of cash transfers for pensioners, students and small farmers, and more than doubling of the minimum wage.  

López Obrador saw a major spike in his popularity in recent weeks, with a positive rating of up to 80 percent, according to pollster Gallup. This reflects in large measure short-term economic expectations, nationalist sentiments after the police invasion of the Mexican embassy in Ecuador, and support for a shift by the government toward open denunciations of the Israeli genocide in Gaza. 

The election campaign was dominated by empty populist bluster. Gálvez even stood in front of a crowd and signed in blood her promise to maintain AMLO’s social assistance programs.

Sheinbaum’s acceptance speech Monday morning summed up her campaign. She stressed her gender, declaring: “I do not arrive alone, all women arrive with me.” She vowed to secure resources for establishing a “welfare state” and prevent increases in fuel and electricity costs. 

On the other hand, she promised to promote “national and foreign private investment,” to “consolidate the National Guard, intelligence and investigation for security,” and “a relationship of friendship, mutual respect and equality” with the US government. 

Throughout the election cycle, there was no significant or honest discussion in the debates or rallies about the explosive crisis of the entire global capitalist order, and how the next Mexican government will attempt to balance the growing demands and threats from US imperialism that Mexico align its policies with the drive to World War III. 

The US corporate media largely focused on demanding that Sheinbaum “turn her back on López Obrador once elected,” as expressed by the right-wing CNN and Miami Herald commentator Andrés Oppenheimer. 

In a sign that sections of the ruling class are concerned above all by the unprecedented political crisis and brinksmanship of their imperialist overlord north of the border, the major Mexican daily La Jornada dedicated its editorial on election day to denouncing the US war drive against China. It states:

The truth is that Washington’s determination to prolong its imperial control has a negative impact on its own society and on those of the entire planet. To mention just one example, one wonders what percentage of the inflation that has destabilized the world economy and impoverished millions of people can be explained by the illegal sanctions and tariffs imposed by the United States on Russia, China and other countries. The United States would do well to fix its own problems, such as the very deficient democratic institutionality that we have reported here. 

Morena’s own record and the numerous assurances made by Sheinbaum to Wall Street make clear that, amid the emerging escalation to global war and growing economic shocks, the next administration will put the defense of the massive fortunes of Mexican billionaires and the profits of global corporate and finance capital above the social programs, democratic rights and even the lives of the Mexican working class and poor. 

The main transformation of Mexico under AMLO has been its total integration into the North American economic platform that US and Canadian imperialism rely on to wage economic and military warfare against their rivals, above all Russia and China, both nuclear powers. 

During the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, as major companies in defense and other key US industries warned that they couldn’t operate without Mexican suppliers, López Obrador joined Trump in opening the factories and sacrificing hundreds of thousands of lives. Sheinbaum also dropped all major protections in 2020 and deliberately covered up the death toll in Mexico City—a clear exposure of the claim that, as a scientist, she will rule “following the data.”

In her government plan, titled “100 steps toward transformation,” Sheinbaum explicitly calls for Mexico to “to take advantage of the economic situation to replace imports mainly from Asia with regional production, with a high domestic content. The idea is to produce in North America what is consumed in North America.” This closely jibes with the “nearshoring” drive of US imperialism.

On security, she calls for the “establishment of bi-national working groups to deal with determined criminal phenomena” with the US government. She told The New York Times that she is “prepared to work with whichever candidate wins the next U.S. election,” at a time when one contender, Joe Biden, is moving headlong toward a war with Russia and the other is planning on establishing a fascistic dictatorship and conducting the mass deportation of migrants. 

While the US and Mexican ruling classes would have preferred Gálvez to win and carry out a swifter shift to the right, they have taken the measure of Sheinbaum. Bloomberg, for instance, writes: “Businesspeople see her as potentially more market-friendly than AMLO and open to change in policy areas such as energy and private investment.”

Sheinbaum has promised not to increase any taxes, including maintaining the major corporate incentives across the free trade zone on the US-Mexico border, and to maintain a strict “no deficit” policy for the government under the slogan of “Republican austerity.” This can only mean that social spending will be the first casualty of the imminent economic shocks and, above all, demands for even greater spending on the military. 

In fact, the shameless efforts by AMLO and Sheinbaum to give the military a facelift are the clearest demonstration of the real character of Morena, which has effectively allowed the traditional oligarchic parties represented by Gálvez to pose as defenders of democratic institutions. 

The AMLO administration retrieved Mexico’s former defense minister retired Gen. Salvador Cienfuegos after his arrest in the US on drug charges, has enshrined the domestic deployment of troops in the Constitution, increased the combined military budget by 150 percent, handed to the armed forces management of ports, customs and infrastructure projects, and has allowed them to continue to cover up their role in the 2014 disappearance of the 43 Ayotzinapa teaching students. 

Tens of thousands of troops are currently deployed in “migrant containment” operations and have detained record numbers of migrants at the behest of Washington. 

López Obrador has called the military “the pillar of the Mexican state,” which means that the ruling class is prepared to enforce its interests via the use of military force against opposition at home under conditions of an unprecedented level of social inequality and an explosive descent into war and barbarism globally. Absent the revolutionary intervention of the working class, the Tlatelolco massacre of hundreds of student protesters in 1968 and other deadly repressive experiences throughout Mexican history will pale in comparison to the state violence that is to come.