Analysis_ Mexico Metropolis metro exposes _Achilles heel_ of mayor’s presidential desires

[1/5] Mexico Metropolis’s Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum speaks close to Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (not pictured) throughout a information convention on the Previous Metropolis Corridor (Antiguo Palacio del Ayuntamiento), in Mexico Metropolis, Mexico January 20, 2023. REUTERS/Henry Romero

MEXICO CITY, Jan 23 (Reuters) – The second main accident within the Mexico Metropolis metro in as a few years and a sequence of current mishaps within the transport system have piled stress on Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum, one of many favorites to grow to be the nation’s subsequent president.

The Jan. 7 practice collision that killed one particular person and injured 57 and different glitches have shone a harsh mild on Sheinbaum’s administration simply as she bids for the candidacy of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s Nationwide Regeneration Motion (MORENA) for the 2024 presidential elections.

Stories of lower cables, objects thrown onto tracks and different harm prompted MORENA’s secretary normal to name out “sabotage”, and Sheinbaum known as in 6,000 Nationwide Guard members to police metro stations, saying they are going to assure safety after “intentional incidents” which are underneath investigation.

Critics, nevertheless, have questioned that transfer as a bid to distract from a scarcity of funding and upkeep within the community that carries thousands and thousands of individuals day by day.

“The metro is probably the Achilles heel of Claudia Sheinbaum’s presidential aspirations,” stated Jorge Bravo, a political scientist on the Nationwide Autonomous College of Mexico (UNAM), explaining that the community is considered a significant take a look at of her means to manipulate.

There are indicators it could already be hurting her.

A January ballot by newspaper El Financiero, performed partly on the day of the deadly accident, confirmed help for Sheinbaum falling from December by 5 share factors to 41%.

Behind her, backing for her closest rival, Overseas Minister Marcelo Ebrard, rose to 38% from 36%.

Sheinbaum’s workplace didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark.

In the meantime, a confrontation has damaged out between MORENA and the metro employees’ union, which operates the community and whose management has been in place for the reason that Nineteen Seventies.

Some MORENA lawmakers blame the union for the metro’s woes, accusing it of making an attempt to harm Sheinbaum. The union has dismissed the accusations, arguing issues arose as a result of her authorities – and its predecessors – didn’t make investments sufficient within the metro.

Sheinbaum has publicly vowed to spend extra on the metro, however authorities information analyzed by assume tank Mexico Evalua exhibits upkeep dipped in the course of the pandemic. The metro’s finances did enhance by greater than 3 billion pesos in 2022, an almost 25% increase. Funds, nevertheless, have been probably prioritized for downside areas, Mexico Evalua stated, together with Line 12 which suffered a deadly accident in Might 2021 that killed 26 individuals.

Calling within the Nationwide Guard dangers backfiring if the town prioritizes its deployment over upkeep or substitute of previous components, stated Eduardo Miranda, a structural engineering professor at Stanford College.

“If accidents proceed, like a cable or the sign system breaks, the Nationwide Guard isn’t going to detect that or make a distinction,” Miranda stated.

Governments have been hesitant to take a position extra within the metro’s upkeep as a result of repairs are much less seen than different tasks, and in addition to lift its 5 peso ($0.26) fare to keep away from upsetting the general public, argued Mariana Campos at Mexico Evalua.

“They have not given it the significance it deserves they usually’ve taken too many dangers,” Campos stated.

The metro issues come as Sheinbaum continues to be underneath scrutiny for her response to the 2021 deadly overpass collapse, stated a Mexican authorities official, who nonetheless argued the union was making an attempt to undermine her.

The town commissioned Norwegian agency DNV to analyze the incident, which recognized upkeep as one of many causes. However Sheinbaum rejected the findings earlier than they have been public, and threatened to sue DNV. Her try and suppress the report undermined her credibility, the official stated.

To make sure, Sheinbaum has navigated pitfalls prior to now. A faculty collapse that killed 19 kids in a 2017 earthquake occurred on her watch as a district mayor of Mexico Metropolis.

She filed a felony grievance accusing two prior attorneys for the district of failing to implement the regulation after discovering unlawful development, and have become Mexico Metropolis Mayor in 2018.

Now, Lopez Obrador has backed her choice to make use of the Nationwide Guard, in a transparent signal of help for her.

But that would result in extra criticism from opponents that she struggles to handle crises, stated Bravo at UNAM.

“Claudia is exhibiting that she can not do it alone,” he stated.

($1 = 18.9849 Mexican pesos)

Reporting by Cassandra Garrison, Dave Graham and Daina Beth Solomon Enhancing by Alistair Bell

Our Requirements: The Thomson Reuters Belief Ideas.