Jun 3, 2024 - World

What to know about Claudia Sheinbaum, Mexico's first woman president

 Presidential candidate Claudia Sheinbaum

Claudia Sheinbaum on June 3, 2024, in Mexico City. Photo: Hector Vivas/Getty Images

Claudia Sheinbaum made history Sunday after becoming the first woman to be elected president of Mexico.

Why it matters: Her election marks a groundbreaking achievement in a country with a strong culture of machismo and high rates of violence against women.

  • She has also made history as the first Jewish person to be elected president of the predominantly Catholic country.
  • Sheinbaum, a climate scientist and former mayor of Mexico City, will have the chance to put her stamp on Mexico's climate and immigration policies once she takes office on Oct. 1.

What is Sheinbaum's background?

Sheinbaum was born in Mexico City in 1962 to parents who both worked in the sciences, per the New York Times.

  • Both sets of Sheinbaum's grandparents were Jews who immigrated to Mexico from Lithuania and Bulgaria, per the Times.

Sheinbaum first met her husband, Jesús María Tarriba, a financial risk specialist at the Bank of Mexico, while they were both in university.

  • The pair reconnected in recent years and married in 2023.
  • Sheinbaum has two children and one grandchild, per CNN.

Sheinbaum's career as a scientist

Sheinbaum got a degree in physics at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) before moving on to earn a PhD in energy engineering.

  • During her doctoral studies in the 1990s she spent four years doing energy engineering research at the University of California, Berkeley, Reuters reported.
  • In 2006, she joined the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) — becoming a member of the team that would win the Nobel Peace Prize the following year, CNN reported.

Her years in politics

Sheinbaum first entered politics in 2000, when outgoing Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) — then the newly-elected mayor of Mexico City — appointed her to be his environment secretary, per CNN.

  • In 2015, Sheinbaum became the head of Mexico City's largest borough, Tlalpan.
  • She remained in the role until 2017, and was elected Mexico City mayor the next year.

Divergence from her predecessor

While running for president, Sheinbaum promised to pursue similar policies to those of her mentor, AMLO.

  • Sheinbaum is also a member of AMLO's leftist Morena party.
  • Still, Sheinbaum told the New York Times that she and AMLO are "different people" with different priorities.

State of play: Upon taking office, Sheinbaum will have to contend with the surging violence in Mexico that AMLO's policies largely failed to stymie.

  • She also told the Times she's prepared to work with whichever candidate wins this year's consequential U.S. election.
  • She has vowed to continue Mexico and the U.S.' efforts to address migration by tackling its root causes as well, per the Times.
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