Aventaja Montserrat Caballero
Aventaja Montserrat Caballero, the new mayor of Tijuana. Image from her Facebook page

Mexico is supposedly a 100% “macho” country, socially, economically and politically. 

At least it was until Sunday, when millions of Mexican voters showed up at thousands of polling places including a huge one at the entrance to my gated community, San Antonio del Mar, an enclave between Tijuana and Rosarito Beach.

When the votes were counted, a woman — Aventaja Montserrat Caballero — had won the mayor’s race in 2 million-population Tijuana with 47.5% of the vote. Another woman — Norma Bustamante — won the mayor’s race in 1 million-population Mexicali with 41% of the vote, and a third — Araceli Brown — won the mayor’s race in the spring break favorite of Rosarito Beach with 35% of the vote.

They defeated up to a dozen candidates in each of their races. And all three women were members of President Andres Lopez Obrador’s MORENA party.

So, too, was Marina del Pilar, MORENA’s candidate for Baja California governor. She won the governorship with 48.3% of the vote, defeating former Tijuana mayor Jorge Hank Rhon and six other candidates. He is the privileged son of deceased ultra-politician Carlos Hank Gonzales, who accumulated billions of dollars while Mayor of Mexico City and governor of the surrounding Mexico State.

Despite the allegations of corruption, Rhon won Tijuana’s mayor’s office under the PRI, the former Mexican ruling party that was perhaps the most corrupt political organization the world has ever seen. This time he ran under a different banner — the Social Encounter Party, or PES — and spent a fortune. A woman ended Hank’s political career, and Baja California is better off for it

Nationally, approximately 50% of Mexico’s 90 million voters turned out to elect 15 governors and the entire Chamber of Deputies, Mexico’s congress.

President Lopez Obrador, or AMLO and he is known, welcomed the good news of his MORENA candidates’ victories. On the other hand, his party appears to have lost seats in the Chamber of Deputies, and so he will not have a two-thirds super-majority which he could use to dump the Constitution of 1917.

That was greeted with relief by many, as AMLO had vowed to create a “modern” constitution that would allow him to wield dictatorial powers like his idol, the founder of the old PRI, Plutarco Elias Calles, and become president for life.

The second bad news for AMLO is that his party was practically banished from the capital, where MORENA triumphed in 2018 by winning 11 of 18 boroughs. But this time voters threw out the party in those same boroughs.

All in all, women made gigantic strides in the election, especially in  San Diego’s next door neighbor and commercial partner Tijuana and the state of Baja California. 

The new mayor of Tijuana and governor of Baja automatically join new Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum in the race to replace AMLO. He is prevented by a constitution he can no longer change from running for reelection. He is limited to his current six-year term that ends in 2024.

Will Mexico beat the United States to elect a woman President? The answer could be “yes.” So much for “macho” Mexico.

Raoul Lowery Contreras is a Marine Corps veteran, political consultant and author of the new book White Anglo-Saxon Protestants (WASPS) & Mexicans. His work has appeared in the New American News Service of the New York Times Syndicate.

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