With Mexico’s federal elections just seven weeks away, two leading presidential candidates made visits to border cities over the weekend greeted by crowds of supporters.

Frontrunner Claudia Sheinbaum appeared in Tijuana to speak to voters about policies on health, education, and Mexico’s place in its North American relationships, while Xóchitl Gálvez, polling in second place, attempted to persuade voters in Juárez with promises of funding for infrastructure and support for Chihuahua Gov. María Eugenia Campos.

More: 5 key issues at stake in the upcoming 2024 Mexico election

Mexicans seem on the cusp of making history by electing the first woman as president of the country famous for its culture, ancient ruins and food. It’s also a country challenged by immigration, drug cartels and poverty.

Claudia Sheinbaum, the Mexican presidential candidate for the MORENA ruling party, gives a campaign speech at The Tromp Interactive Museum in the border city of Tijuana, Mexico on April 12. Xóchitl Gálvez, polling in second place, attempted to persuade voters to support her during a campaign stop in Juárez this weekend.

Claudia Sheinbaum, the Mexican presidential candidate for the MORENA ruling party, gives a campaign speech at The Tromp Interactive Museum in the border city of Tijuana, Mexico on April 12. Xóchitl Gálvez, polling in second place, attempted to persuade voters to support her during a campaign stop in Juárez this weekend.

Mexican voters head to the polls on June 2. Eligible Mexican citizens can vote from abroad by using an online option, by mailing in a ballot, or by voting in person at consulates on election day. About 226,000 Mexicans living abroad are registered to vote in this year’s election – a small but growing percentage of the overall number of Mexicans who live in other countries.

A crowd of about 2,000 people waited to greet Sheinbaum, the ruling Morena party’s candidate, in the plaza in front of the Trompo Interactive Museum on Friday. As supporters waved white and maroon flags and chanted “Presidenta,” Sheinbaum signed hats, smiled for selfies, and kissed babies on her way to the stage.

More: How Mexican citizens in Texas can vote in Mexico’s 2024 elections

Just a few miles from the U.S. border, Sheinbaum and other speakers at the event focused on signaling support to Mexicans living outside of the country. About 97 percent of Mexicans who live abroad make their home in the United States, according to Migration Policy Institute. Other countries with significant Mexican communities include Canada, Spain, and Germany.

Supporters of Claudia Sheinbaum, the Mexican presidential candidate for the MORENA ruling party, attend a political rally at The Tromp Interactive Museum in the border city of Tijuana on Friday, April 12, 2024.Supporters of Claudia Sheinbaum, the Mexican presidential candidate for the MORENA ruling party, attend a political rally at The Tromp Interactive Museum in the border city of Tijuana on Friday, April 12, 2024.

Supporters of Claudia Sheinbaum, the Mexican presidential candidate for the MORENA ruling party, attend a political rally at The Tromp Interactive Museum in the border city of Tijuana on Friday, April 12, 2024.

“All Mexicans who live abroad, wherever they are, are part of the Mexican nation,” Marcelo Ebrard, former secretary of foreign affairs in the administration of Andrés Manuel López Obrador, said. “We want to tell them today that we love them, we respect them, we admire them, and they are a part of the future of Mexico.”

Ebrard had run against Sheinbaum last year, hoping to win the Morena nomination for president.

Sheinbaum emphasized the economic impact of Mexican emigrants, calling them “heroes and heroines of the homeland.”

“They live with hardships, with discrimination, and they always dedicate so much to their families and to our country,” Sheinbaum said. “They sustain our domestic economy but also, and this needs to be heard, the economy of the United States. Because what would become of that economy, the largest in the world, if it weren’t for the Mexicans who are working there every day?”

This picture of interdependence, rather than dependence, between Mexico and the United States is critical to voters. Mexico recently moved into the spot of top trading partner to the United States. Its national sovereignty on the international stage and especially in its relationship with the United States has historically been a sensitive issue for the country, which is loath to be seen as a junior partner in North American politics.

Supporters of Claudia Sheinbaum, the Mexican presidential candidate for the MORENA ruling party, attend a political rally at The Tromp Interactive Museum in the border city of Tijuana, Mexico on April 12, 2024. Sheinbaum visited the border cities of Mexicali and Tijuana and spoke of the need to protect Mexican migrants in the U.S. from discrimination.Supporters of Claudia Sheinbaum, the Mexican presidential candidate for the MORENA ruling party, attend a political rally at The Tromp Interactive Museum in the border city of Tijuana, Mexico on April 12, 2024. Sheinbaum visited the border cities of Mexicali and Tijuana and spoke of the need to protect Mexican migrants in the U.S. from discrimination.

“We will never bow our heads before any nation,” Sheinbaum promised the crowd. “We will always demand a relationship of equals.”

Sheinbaum painted herself and her potential administration as the “second floor of the Fourth Transformation,” referring to current president López Obrador’s term for his political movement. Her statements before the crowd in Tijuana signaled that her presidency would build on the same foundation laid by López Obrador.

Social programs that have been popular under the current administration, such as the universal pension for older adults, would continue, she promised. She proposed expanding the number of preparatory schools and universities throughout the country and making access to education at all levels free. Sheinbaum also proposed a constitutional amendment to mandate that minimum wage increases match inflation each year.

As Sheinbaum explained each idea, she asked the crowd, “All those in favor, raise your hand!” After the cheers and waving of hands, she declared each proposal “Approved!” as if it were already a fait accompli.

Mexican presidential candidate Xochitl Galvez for Fuerza y Corazón por México coalition parties speaks at a rally in Juárez on Saturday on April 13.Mexican presidential candidate Xochitl Galvez for Fuerza y Corazón por México coalition parties speaks at a rally in Juárez on Saturday on April 13.

Mexican presidential candidate Xochitl Galvez for Fuerza y Corazón por México coalition parties speaks at a rally in Juárez on Saturday on April 13.

At Juárez’s Gimnasio Universitario on Saturday, around 5,000 voters waved the flags of the three main parties that make up the coalition Fuerza y Corazón por México as opposition candidate Xóchitl Gálvez addressed the crowd. The alliance of the tri-colored PRI, the blue PAN, and the yellow PRD might have been unthinkable 20 years ago. Rivalry between the conservative PAN and the chameleon PRI goes back to the 1930s; the PRD got its start in the 1980s as a leftist off-shoot of the PRI.

Mexico election 2024: Mexico likely to get its first woman president after top parties choose candidates

Gálvez opened her a litany of social program proposals with a promise that the federal government would devote funding and attention to border states.

“The northern part of the country will once again be part of Mexico,” Gálvez announced to applause.

Historically, Mexico’s federal government has shown a strong tendency toward centralization, with policies that often favored regions around the country’s capital over faraway states like Chihuahua. To combat this “abandonment,” Gálvez said, she would dedicate an infrastructure budget of 10 billion pesos (about 600 million dollars) to Juárez alone.

Supporters of Mexican presidential candidate Xochitl Galvez attend a rally in Juárez on Saturday, April 13.Supporters of Mexican presidential candidate Xochitl Galvez attend a rally in Juárez on Saturday, April 13.

Supporters of Mexican presidential candidate Xochitl Galvez attend a rally in Juárez on Saturday, April 13.

Gálvez proposed expanding the universal pension program to adults 60 years of age or older. The program currently offers a monthly payment to adults beginning at age 68. To combat insecurity, she proposed higher wages and benefits for municipal police officers.

Gálvez promised respect for the rights of LGBT+ students, using the example of allowing students to choose between uniform pants or skirts regardless of gender. She also proposed “universal scholarships” for students from pre-school to preparatory school, critiquing the current administration’s “Young People Building the Future” program that serves primarily as work training.

Many of Gálvez’s proposals were changes and additions to the social programs that exist under the López Obrador administration, but, notably, she did not propose ending any of those programs.

“Morena is leaving, but the social programs are staying,” she said.

As of April 3, Bloomberg’s polling tracker shows that 58% of decided voters favor Sheinbaum, while 35% intend to vote for Xochitl Gálvez, who represents a coalition of the PRI, PAN, and PRD parties, and 7% for Jorge Álvarez Máynez, of the Citizen Movement party.

This article originally appeared on El Paso Times: Juárez, Tijuana focus of tour of Mexico’s leading presidential candidates

Share.
2024 © Network Today. All Rights Reserved.