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Elvia Díaz: Mexico elected its 1st female president. What it could mean for AZ

Mexican voters went to the polls Sunday in their presidential election, and Claudia Sheinbaum will become the first female president of that country. Turnout was high, both in Mexico and in the U.S; long lines of voters were reported at consulates throughout this country, including in Phoenix.

With The Show to talk about the results, and what they could mean both for Mexico and Arizona is Elvia Díaz, editorial page editor of The Arizona Republic.

Full Conversation

MARK BRODIE: Elvia, when you look at these results, what goes through your mind?

ELVIA DÍAZ: Well, the first thing that we need to look at is how relatively peaceful transfer of power will be, and I say relatively, because I'm talking about peaceful just from the point of view of the election itself of the presidential election itself. So, we're talking about the first female president of Mexico, the competition has already accepted defeat, and not that difficult to see that because Claudia Sheinbaum, who's the winner, I mean, she won by a huge margin, and so, it is it is a new point for for Mexico because, again, you know, now Mexico will join 11 other Latin American nations that have or have had president, female, a female president. So a huge moment for Mexico. But in terms of practicalities, we'll see.

BRODIE: What is the significance specifically of Mexico, the first North American country to have a female president, do you think?

DÍAZWell, I mean, look at us look at the United States, I mean, we have not been able to elect one, and we have tried — right? —  as a country. So, I will say it is hugely important. I mean, it shows that, you know, women can get elected. In Mexico, it is still considered a sort of a machismo culture, and again, I mean, she got so many votes. I mean, as of last night, you know, the unofficial results show that Claudia had nearly 60% of the vote now, now now that competitor, or the closest competitor was also female.

So, either one of them would have made history. So for women, it shows that yes, it is possible to get elected. And yes, it is possible for men to vote for women, you know, which is one of the issues that keep surfacing in here in the United States, and also in Mexico. So I will say hugely, hugely important. But now the hard work begins, right? What is she going to be doing for Mexico? And we have to pay close attention to that, because we are absolutely intertwined with our neighbor to the south.

BRODIE: Well, so, Elvia you mentioned peaceful transfer of power, but the campaigning was not always so peaceful, a lot of political violence leading up to election day yesterday, right?

DÍAZAnd that's why I was mentioning relatively speaking, because the peaceful transfer of power when I was talking about is that all the candidates have already said, you know, she won, we recognize that the results, Claudia will be the next president of Mexico. But then the second part is that, yes, Mexico remains an incredibly violent country in this election itself, and I even wrote about it, I mean, at least 36 local candidates were killed just this election season. So that's very violent, so peaceful transfer of here, only, when it comes to just handing over the power of the presidency. That's it, everything else is still very, very much unsafe, you know, and, you know, again, 36 candidates being killed. Just this election season is incredibly alarming.

BRODIE: When you talk about some of the issues that you'll be watching from Arizona, because as you say, Arizona and Mexico are in many ways intertwined. In addition to the the violence issue, what are some of the other ones that you'll be looking for to see how this new president handles them relative to what they mean for us here in Arizona?

DÍAZI will say right now the top of mine is immigration, you know, border security, at least that's what American candidates are talking about. Claudia Sheinbaum, who is the current president's protégé, she has vowed to keep his legacy so she she kept saying that she will work with whomever wins here in the United States to curtail immigration to the north. So that will be top of mind. Also the economy. That's going to be hugely important for the United States, especially the opportunity of nearshoring.

Mexico has has not been able to capitalize on that right now. But that's going to be something that Americans will be looking at that I will be looking at. I mean, Mexico, it is the United States leading trade partner. So the the North American Free Trade Agreement, as they used to known, essentially the deal between Mexico, Canada and the United States, will be top of mind whenever the new president here in the United States, is is a elected. We already know that President Trump is able and has promised that he will undo it if he feels like it. So that's that's that's going to be top of mind for U.S. investors and Mexico and for foreign investment as well.

BRODIE: What does it say to you that Mexican voters basically said we'd like to stay the course we want to keep many of the same policies as the current administration?

DÍAZI have been writing for quite a while, you know, sort of in alarming way that López Obrador, the current president, he's a socialist. He brags about the economy while still nationalizing a lot of the private companies or re reverting that, yet, he remains incredibly popular. And that is because he was able to focus on the poor. So he spent a lot of the funds, distributing the money to the very, very, very poor. So he, yes, he lifted, millions of people out of extreme poverty.

So of course, that's going to be popular with Mexicans who for years and decades, possibly throughout the history has have been ignored. So, this is a huge, huge victory for him, because it essentially says that Mexicans do like his policies. But you know, he is a he's a socialist. He nationalized companies. He prefers national investment or foreign investment and and so that is that is concerning to a lot of foreign investment. But we'll see. Right? I mean, ultimately, it's up to Mexicans to decide what to do with with their president and how they want the country to be run.

BRODIE: Sure. All right. That is Elvia Díaz, editorial page editor for the Arizona Republic. Elvia, always nice to talk to you. Thank you.

DÍAZThank you so much.

KJZZ's The Show transcripts are created on deadline. This text may not be in its final form. The authoritative record of KJZZ's programming is the audio record.

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Mark Brodie is a co-host of The Show, KJZZ’s locally produced news magazine. Since starting at KJZZ in 2002, Brodie has been a host, reporter and producer, including several years covering the Arizona Legislature, based at the Capitol.