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Mexico’s Next President Must Get Three Key Relationships Right

Mexico’s Next President Must Get Three Key Relationships Right
Presidential candidate Claudia Sheinbaum speaks during a campaign rally in Tlaxcala, Mexico, May 11, 2024 (Sipa photo by Carlos Santiago via AP Images).

Foreign policy is not high on the list of Mexican voters’ immediate concerns as they head to the polls on June 2. As with most voters around the world, they care more about basic economic issues including jobs and inflation. They want better security in response to the over 30,000 homicides per year and the growing influence of transnational criminals and drug trafficking organizations in Mexico. Finally, there is a concern among opponents of current President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, or AMLO, that democracy is under threat and corruption is on the rise, even as his supporters view their side as the democratic majority that has turned the page on the corruption of the political movements of the past.

Yet, all three issues—the economy, security and democracy—overlap heavily with foreign policy. Whether the winner is Claudia Sheinbaum of the ruling Morena Party or opposition candidate Xochitl Galvez, the next president must get Mexico’s relationships with the United States, China and Latin America right to succeed domestically.

Most important is the United States. Mexico is both blessed and cursed by its proximity to its northern neighbor. The two countries are each other’s largest trading partners, with well over $1 billion in merchandise crossing the border every day. That is vital to Mexico’s economic growth and for building the country’s middle class. And yet, every shift in U.S. politics and every bump in its economy is a potentially existential event for Mexico, but one that remains outside of its control.

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