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The two “Mexicans” who will vote for a new president

The two “Mexicans” who will vote for a new president

Blanca López runs a company that manufactures parts for the aerospace industry in the north of Mexico. Sandra Sánchez hopes that the restaurant where she works will benefit from a gigantic refinery that the government built in the south.

Both will vote in next Sunday’s presidential election, although they appear to come from two different countries.

The first, exporter and industrial Mexico linked to the neighboring United States by the T-MEC free trade agreement; the second, historically backward Mexico with high poverty, on which the outgoing president Andrés Manuel López Obrador opted.

At Mimsa, the 41-year-old López’s factory, machines precisely mold steel parts for Boeing in the Monterrey metropolitan area, the same area where tycoon Elon Musk plans to build a Tesla megaplant.

“The pieces can go in the seats or even inside a turbine or an airplane engine,” explains López. “We have several clients (…) and all their pieces are different.”

In this complex, which López’s father started in a small workshop, parts are also manufactured for the chemical and food industries, among others.

“It gives a lot of pride to know that you are doing things well, that your people are well trained,” says the businesswoman, who invested two years to obtain certification as a Boeing supplier.

Grouped in an aerospace cluster, other companies in the area manufacture components for General Electric aircraft turbines.

Due to its industrial strength, the state of Nuevo León, whose capital is Monterrey, generates 8% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), behind Mexico City and the neighboring State of Mexico (center), which are also home to various industries.

A street vendor with a figure of Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador is seen in the municipality of Pesquería, Nuevo León state, Mexico. © ALFREDO ESTRELLA / AFP

“Lift up the country”

About 1,400 km from there, Sandra Sánchez waits for customers at the El Malecón restaurant in Chiltepec, a picturesque coastal town near Paraíso (Tabasco state), where the leftist government built the Dos Bocas refinery with an investment of 16.8 billion dollars.

“People are going to come and we hope they will contribute to us here in the town,” csays the 34-year-old woman among the empty chairs of the establishment, located on the edge of a river and with tropical decoration.

Sánchez places his hope in “the cotton head“, as he calls López Obrador because of his gray hair, also originally from Tabasco and who has 66% approval.

Sandra Sánchez gestures while speaking during an interview in an empty tourist restaurant on the boardwalk of the city of Chiltepec in Paraíso, Tabasco state.  © Yuri CORTEZ / AFP
Sandra Sánchez gestures while speaking during an interview in an empty tourist restaurant on the boardwalk of the city of Chiltepec in Paraíso, Tabasco state. © Yuri CORTEZ / AFP

“You could see the potential he had (…) to lift Tabasco, to lift the country. Yes, the economy has changed a lot since ‘grandfather’s’ six-year term began.”says.

When the refinery was under construction, the restaurant received hundreds of construction company employees who came to Chiltepec.

In one weekend the business raised up to 120,000 pesos, about US$7,000. Now that construction is finished, income has dropped to about US$1,200 in the same period.

The figures show the impact of the construction of the refinery and the tourist Mayan Train, another emblematic project of López Obrador that runs through the Yucatán Peninsula (southeast) and which required an investment of about US$30,000 million, according to private sector calculations.

Tabasco is the state that grew the most economically in 2023, a 6.8%which analysts from the Spanish bank BBVA explain by “the good performance of the construction sectors, associated with the main works” of the government.

Is it sustainable?

Nuevo León and Tabasco could not be more different. The first occupies fourth place in the state competitiveness index of the Mexican Institute of Competitiveness (IMCO, private) that measures innovation, infrastructure, labor market and environment. Tabasco ranks 20th out of 32 states.

Aerial view of the Olmeca oil refinery belonging to the company Petróleos Mexicanos (PEMEX), which along with six others is part of the National Refining System (SNR) located in Paraíso, state of Tabasco, Mexico.  © Yuri CORTEZ / AFP
Aerial view of the Olmeca oil refinery belonging to the company Petróleos Mexicanos (PEMEX), which along with six others is part of the National Refining System (SNR) located in Paraíso, state of Tabasco, Mexico. © Yuri CORTEZ / AFP

And in terms of poverty, Nuevo León registers 16% compared to 46.5% in Tabasco, according to official data from 2022, which shows a drop of eight points in both regions since 2020.

Southeast “will never be forgotten again”assures López Obrador, whose succession is being disputed by his candidate Claudia Sheinbaum – a wide favorite – and the center-right Xóchitl Gálvez.

But there are doubts about the sustainability of this policy and whether it will finally reduce the gap between the “two Mexicos”, not only in Tabasco but in other historically lagging states such as Chiapas and Oaxaca (southern).

“We have seen that the formal employment indicators have no longer been as dynamic as in the years when the work was stronger” of the refinery, says Jesús Carrillo, director of Sustainable Economy at IMCO.

Residents of Paraíso like Juan Gabriel Córdova, a 49-year-old fisherman, say that during the construction of the refinery “Everyone was happy, they earned their ticket.”

“Right now they cut all those people, there are only a few left and the complaining that there is no work is going to start,” warns.

It may interest you

  • Electoral campaign in Mexico comes to an end overshadowed by violence
  • Political uncertainty and insecurity afflict Mexican businessmen to grow this year
  • Sheinbaum, the tenacious scientist who seeks to lead a sexist Mexico

Source: Gestion

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