Mexico's First Female President Faces Complex Challenges with U.S.

Mexico's First Female President Faces Complex Challenges with U.S.

The upcoming presidential election in Mexico is drawing significant media attention, with Claudia Sheinbaum and Xóchitl Gálvez as the frontrunners, making it likely that Mexico will elect its first female president. Both candidates hold a significant lead over their male counterparts in the polls.

The new president will face the challenge of managing the sensitive relationship with the United States, which is not only Mexico’s northern neighbor but also its primary trading partner. The Mexican drug cartels, blamed by U.S. authorities for the fentanyl overdose crisis, and the record numbers of U.S.-bound migrants passing through Mexico, are key issues.

These topics are also significant in the U.S. 2024 electoral race, with the potential return of Donald Trump to the U.S. presidency, who has promised the "largest deportation operation" in U.S. history if re-elected.

Trump’s past and possible future policies towards migrants and drugs are a concern for Mexico’s presidential hopefuls, with some Mexican commentators dubbing a second Trump presidency as "the elephant in the room."

Both Sheinbaum, running for the governing Morena party, and Gálvez, the opposition candidate, have emphasized the importance of a strong relationship with the U.S. Sheinbaum has pledged to continue the foreign policy of her mentor, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, whose tenure has seen tensions with the U.S. over counter-narcotics operations and border control measures.

Gálvez has criticized the current government's foreign policy as a "disaster" but also supports a pro-migrant stance, particularly towards Mexican migrants in the U.S.

In a recent debate, both candidates stressed they would not be intimidated by the U.S., particularly on migration issues. Sheinbaum has vowed "no more submission in foreign policy," criticizing previous administrations for being "humiliated" by the U.S. Gálvez has also promised a “frank, direct and clear” relationship with the U.S., recognizing its importance as a market. She criticized the current government for "caving in" to Trump’s demands to keep migrants in Mexico under the threat of tariffs on Mexican goods.

On security and immigration policies, both candidates have pledged cooperation with the U.S. in combating drug trafficking. Sheinbaum has called for increased U.S. investment in Mexico and Central America to address migration pressures, while Gálvez has prioritized protecting migrants and regularizing the status of Mexican compatriots in the U.S.

Despite criticisms that President López Obrador limited U.S. DEA operations in Mexico, Gálvez has said she would not restrict information exchange with the U.S.

Regarding a potential Trump victory, both Sheinbaum and Gálvez have expressed confidence in maintaining good relations. Sheinbaum noted that López Obrador ultimately had a good relationship with Trump, and Gálvez stated she was "not afraid of Trump nor of Biden" and would work with either.

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