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Between the Pandemic and the President: Mexico City Mayor’s Balancing Act

作者:admin 2020-09-06

Between the Pandemic and the President: Mexico City Mayor’s Balancing Act  第1张

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  • Sept. 5, 2020Updated 10:57 a.m. ET

MEXICO CITY — It was a perfect portrait of the delicate relationship between the Mexican president and his protégée.

With the pandemic raging, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador drew his allies in for a photo op. Mask-free and eager to please, they all squeezed in tight — except one: Claudia Sheinbaum, one of his most trusted confidantes.

Ms. Sheinbaum, the mayor of Mexico City, was leery of getting too close. So she stood at the edge of the stage that day in April, a literal outlier, the only person in the room social distancing.

How much space — physical and political — to put between herself and the most powerful man in Mexico is a question that will define Ms. Sheinbaum’s legacy, her political future and the fates of millions of people living in the world’s fifth largest city.

Mr. López Obrador minimized the pandemic early on, questioning the science behind face masks and doing little testing. Seeking to avert economic pain, he has barely restricted travel. Under his watch, Mexico has the fourth highest coronavirus death toll worldwide.

For Ms. Sheinbaum, a scientist with a Ph.D. in energy engineering, staying too close to the president would mean ignoring the practices she knows are in the best interest of public health. Stray too far, and she risks losing the support of a political kingmaker who is said to be considering her — the first woman and first Jewish person elected to lead the nation’s capital — as the party’s next presidential candidate.

So far, her strategy has been to follow the science, while refusing to criticize the president.

“I will not allow this to become a political conflict,” said Ms. Sheinbaum, 58, sitting rigidly at her desk, her voice muffled by a cloth mask. “But I also believe I have a role here in the city, and I’m going to abide by what I believe in.”

ImageBetween the Pandemic and the President: Mexico City Mayor’s Balancing Act  第2张

When Mr. López Obrador was still kissing babies at rallies and comparing the virus to the flu, Ms. Sheinbaum was planning for a long pandemic. She pushed an aggressive testing and contact tracing campaign. She set up testing kiosks where people get swabbed for free.

And she required that everyone in Mexico City use face coverings on public transportation, donning a mask every time she addressed the press.

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