Mexican women won the right to vote in 1953. Now, more than 70 years later, and for the first time in Mexico’s history, two women are frontrunners in the presidential election. Claudia Sheinbaum, from the incumbent party, Morena, is the predicted winner. Her opponent, Xóchitl Gálvez, is from an unlikely three-party coalition including the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which dominated the country’s politics until 2000. Trailing far behind is Jorge Álvarez Máynez, who comes from a small and relatively new party called Movimiento Ciudadano. 

Read the episode transcript here.

In this episode, Peniley Ramírez, co-executive producer of Latino USA, joins Maria Hinojosa to document this historic moment, against the backdrop of a country where women experience gender-based violence in their daily lives. Their reporting starts in New York City, where Maria and Peniley talk to Xóchitl Gálvez, the main opposition candidate, about her journey from street vendor, to senator, to now the candidate for the highest position in office. She reveals how her rise in business and politics made her an irresistible candidate for a declining coalition. Her campaign, however, has yet to tip the scale: she’s been trailing far behind her opponent, Claudia Sheinbaum, who has maintained a double-digit lead on Gálvez throughout the campaign. 

From there, Maria and Peniley travel to Mexico to find out what everyday citizens think about these two candidates. They head to the Zócalo —the main square in Mexico City— to get a sense of the political climate. They talk to people who are in support of the current government, and vying for Claudia Sheinbaum, a prominent scientist turned seasoned politician.

Sheinbaum has left no doubt as to what her political platform is: the continuation of current President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s policies. To many critics and to Gálvez herself, Sheinbaum’s campaign has benefitted from López Obrador’s massive popularity. Maria and Peniley speak to Sheinbaum at one of her rallies on the outskirts of Mexico City. It is there that they learn about her immigration plans and her message to Mexican voters in the United States.

As these candidates present opposing ideas about Mexico’s present and future in the media and online, Mexican women confront violence, discrimination, harassment, and abuse on a daily basis. It’s no surprise, then, that on March 8, 2024, which marks International Women’s Day, over 180 thousand people, mostly women, flooded the streets of Mexico City to demand justice against gender-based violence. 

Photo credit: Peniley Ramírez.

Maria and Peniley document these women as they march past the presidential palace and national monuments, which were cordoned off by steel barricades due to fears of unrest. The women carry signs of protest, chanting against femicide and for women who have disappeared. They scream, “they took them away alive, we want them back alive.”

Photo credit: Fernando Hernández Becerra

But a paradox prevails. In a country where Mexican women hold the highest positions of power in the Supreme Court and half of the Congress, machismo still runs rampant and violence towards women is on the rise: on average, 10 femicides occur every day in Mexico. Mexican women still struggle to survive. But there is hope. The fact that the women’s march increases in attendance every year is a sign that women will take action regardless of who sits in the presidential chair. 

Featured image by Peniley Ramírez.

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