Will the subway accident impact the next Mexican elections?

In election year, the tragedy has transformed the landscape for the Mexican left .

Accident on Line 12 in the Mexico City metro

The deterioration and abandonment of the system has been more notable during the left governments in the capital, that is, since 2000, all of them emanating from people close to López Obrador. Photo: Javier Ríos

LatinAmerican Post | Luis Angel Hernández Liborio

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Leer en español: ¿Impactará el accidente del metro en las próximas elecciones mexicanas?

On May 3, Mexico City was the scene of an unprecedented rail accident in the capital, a part of an elevated viaduct of metro line 12 collapsed along with two train cars. So far the death toll stands at 26 dead and more than 80 injured, as reported via Twitter by the mayor of Mexico City, Claudia Sheinbaum. The tragedy could mark a before and after for the party and the López Obrador government in a crucial electoral year for the North American country.

López Obrador and the Mexico City metro

The current president of Mexico was mayor of Mexico City from 2000 to 2006. In terms of transportation, his management is remembered for the purchase of 45 new trains for line 2 , according to information from El Universal, and for the introduction in the city of the Metrobús system (Bus Rapid Transit) that currently has 7 lines. If he was not the one who built the sinister line 12, why has he affected the president so politically? The reason is that it did not perform major maintenance on a transportation system that is already over 50 years old and that in the last 5 years has had serious failures and fatal accidents. Until before the tragedy of 2021, the biggest accident had occurred in 1975.

#UnDíaComoHoy pero de 2000, Andrés López Obrador asume el Gobierno D. F. es el primer gobernante para un periodo de 6 años. pic.twitter.com/d0GwpNUE51

— Revista Zócalo (@RevistaZocalo) December 5, 2016

The deterioration and abandonment of the system has been more notable during the governments of the left in the capital, that is, since 2000, all of them emanated from people close to López Obrador. To get a better perspective, the metro in the Mexican capital is one of the largest in the world. It was inaugurated in 1969 and only in 2020 it transported 4.6 million daily passengers , according to data from El Economista, this figure being higher than the population of Uruguay.

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Referendum to the government of López Obrador

AMLO won the 2018 elections with an overwhelming majority, 53% of the vote, 31 points above second place. As if that were not enough, he won a majority in both houses of Congress, which gave him a power not seen in decades. The next elections on June 6, 2021 will undoubtedly be a referendum on his government: the chamber of deputies will be renewed and 15 of the 32 state governments will be at stake, as well as 30 of the 32 local congresses.

In polls such as that of El Financiero, the National Regeneration Movement, the ruling party, leads the voting intentions for the federal congress with 40%, this was announced in April, however the effects of the accident in the subway are still to be seen. The transparency in the investigation and the punishment of the possible perpetrators will play in their favor or against them, since in their closest circle there are characters directly related to the damaged subway line , as well as companies that took part in the construction. of line 12 today they build part of the emblematic works of their government.

The dark panorama of the "presidentials"

Although the ruling party thinks about the 2021 elections, it also has in its sights those of 2024, the year in which López Obrador will leave office. Because of this, there is already talk of the "presidential candidates" in their closest circle, where two names stand out: Marcelo Ebrard, current Mexican chancellor, and Claudia Sheinbaum, current mayor of Mexico City.

Ebrard has been unconditional to the president for years, Ebrard was secretary of public security during López Obrador's government as mayor. At least until he was dismissed by the then president, Vicente Fox, for the questioned handling of a crisis in which police officers under his charge died. However, the mayor reinstated him in his cabinet, even becoming his successor in 2006. It was during his time as mayor that Ebrard built line 12 of the metro. From the beginning, their cost overruns, their engineering problems, the type of trains used, among other irregularities, were questioned. Faced with the accusations, at the end of his term, Ebrard went into exile in France until he was "repatriated" by López Obrador to join his cabinet as chancellor.

For her part, Claudia Sheinbaum was also part of López Obrador's cabinet during his time as mayor , also serving the subsequent governments of the capital. It was thanks to the support of AMLO that she became a candidate and mayor of Mexico City, the "López Obrador effect" allowed many candidates of the National Regeneration Movement to win even without being known by the citizens or regardless of their proposals or background. Sheinbaum was singled out for her probable responsibility in the tragedy of the Enrique Rébsamen School that collapsed in the 2017 earthquake , because as an authority in the demarcation it did not make the corresponding administrative verifications, since the school had irregularities in its infrastructure, although in the end it was stated that it had no responsibility , according to Forbes. In 2021, in the current crisis derived from the tragedy of line 12, it is also signaled by the possible lack of maintenance to the entire metro network, which adds to the crisis that occurred on January 9 when half of the network remained no service for days, among other serious incidents.