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Mexico Election Mounts Centre Stage As Two Women Vie For Presidency

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Campaigning officially began Friday for elections likely to produce Mexico’s first woman president – a watershed for a nation with a long tradition of macho culture.

Opposition candidate, Xochitl Galvez, launched her campaign after the stroke of midnight in one of Mexico’s most dangerous states, seeking to tap into voter concerns about the country’s rampant violence.

Public opinion polls suggest that she faces a tough battle against ruling party candidate, Claudia Sheinbaum, a former Mexico City mayor and close ally of outgoing President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, known by his initials AMLO.

With three months to go before the June 2 vote, Sheinbaum, a 61-year-old scientist by training, enjoys a significant lead with 63 per cent support, according to an average of polls compiled by the Oraculus research firm.

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Galvez, also 61, has 31 per cent support, while Jorge Alvarez, 38, of the Citizens’ Movement party is a distant third with just five per cent, polls show.

At stake is the future of Latin America’s second-largest economy, a country of 126 million people that is a key trading partner of the United States and a major tourist destination, but which faces huge challenges from illegal migration and drug-related violence.

Galvez, an outspoken businesswoman with Indigenous roots, sought to put the focus on the country’s insecurity with a night-time rally in the city of Fresnillo in the violence-wracked central state of Zacatecas.

She led a candle-lit march through the streets before sharing the stage with a relative of one of Mexico’s more than 100,000 missing persons, holding a minute’s silence for victims of violence.

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“Here in Fresnillo, as in all of Mexico, people are afraid,” Galvez said, hitting out at Lopez Obrador’s “hugs not bullets” strategy to tackle violent crime at its roots by combating poverty and inequality, rather than using military force.

“Hugs for criminals are over,” she said.

“To have a Mexico without fear, we’re going to restrain the most violent and aggressive criminal organizations in our country,” she added.

It was the first of several planned stops in cities considered by their residents to be among the most unsafe in Mexico, to highlight what Galvez says is the government’s failure to tackle spiraling violence.

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Nearly 450,000 people have been murdered across Mexico since 2006 when then-president Felipe Calderon launched a controversial anti-drug military campaign, according to official figures.

‘Formidable party machinery’
Sheinbaum is a staunch supporter and confidant of Lopez Obrador, a leftwing populist who enjoys an approval rating of nearly 70 per cent according to Oraculus, but who is required by the constitution to leave office after one term.

The granddaughter of Bulgarian and Lithuanian Jewish migrants, Sheinbaum has vowed to continue Lopez Obrador’s policy agenda.

“Sheinbaum is in a very strong position, with a significant lead in the polls over Galvez,” analyst Michael Shifter of the Inter-American Dialogue think tank in Washington told AFP.

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“Although nothing is impossible in politics, with just over three months to go before the election, it is highly unlikely that Galvez will be able to gain enough ground to make it a competitive race. AMLO is too popular, and the government and party machinery is too formidable,” he added.

Sheinbaum is due to address supporters on Friday afternoon in Mexico City’s main square, the heart of the city she governed from 2018 until last year when she stepped down to run for president.

On the eve of her campaign launch, Sheinbaum said that her opponents were “looking for a way to rise in the polls, but there is no way they can do it because we represent the future, and they represent the past.”

Galvez represents an opposition coalition made up of the Institutional Revolutionary Party – which ruled the country for more than 70 years until 2000 – the conservative National Action Party and the leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution.

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But her background sets her apart from the traditional conservative opposition – she wears Indigenous clothing, uses colloquial language peppered with swear words and is known for travelling around Mexico City by bicycle.

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Biden campaign kicks as Trump names J.D. Vance as his running mate

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Donald Trump, on Monday, announced Republican Senator J.D. Vance of Ohio as his running mate in the 2024 presidential election.

This is as the former president received enough convention delegate votes to become the Republican presidential nominee.

But the Joe Biden campaign promptly dismissed Vance as a “far-right MAGA extremist.”

In a post on Truth Social, Trump wrote that “after lengthy deliberation and thought, and considering the tremendous talents of many others, I have decided that the person best suited to assume the position of Vice President of the United States is Senator J.D. Vance of the Great State of Ohio.”

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Vance, a 39-year-old who grew up in Kentucky and Ohio, rose to prominence in 2016 with his bestselling memoir Hillbilly Elegy. He has served as Ohio’s junior U.S. senator since 2023.

Over recent weeks, Trump was reported to have narrowed his list of possible running mates to include Vance, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum.

The Republican National Convention, which got underway on Monday, is scheduled to run through Thursday.

Trump’s appearances at the Fiserv Forum arena will mark his first public events since he was rushed off the stage in Butler, Pa., after what authorities described as an attempt on his life.

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In the wake of the attack over the weekend, security at the RNC has been scrutinized. The director of the Secret Service said on Monday that security plans have been “reviewed and strengthened in the wake of Saturday’s shooting.”

What happens to J.D. Vance’s Senate seat if Trump wins?

If J.D. Vance is elected vice president, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican, would get to select a replacement in the U.S. Senate.

That replacement would hold the seat until a special election in November 2026 to fill the Senate seat until the end of the term, which is 2028.

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Vance was elected to the Senate in 2022 and took office in 2023.

After Vance was announced as Trump’s VP pick on Monday, DeWine told CNN: “It’s a great day for Ohio.”

Who is Usha Vance, wife of Trump’s vice presidential nominee J.D. Vance?

Hours after being named as Trump’s running mate on Monday, Sen. J.D. Vance of Ohio took the floor at the Republican National Convention, hand in hand with his wife, Usha Chilukuri Vance.

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Usha Vance is the daughter of Indian immigrants and grew up in a suburb of San Diego, according to the New York Times. She earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Yale and also has a master’s degree in philosophy from the University of Cambridge.

Usha reportedly met J.D. in 2013, when they were both students at Yale Law School. There the couple organized a discussion group about social decline in rural white America, a topic that would become the focus of Vance’s memoir “Hillbilly Elegy,” which was adapted into a film of the same title in 2020.

The couple has been married since 2014 and have three children. Until 2014, Usha was a registered Democrat, according to the Times.

From 2015 to 2017, Usha worked at California law firm Munger, Tolles & Olson, then left to complete a number of clerkships, including for Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.

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In 2019, she returned to Munger, Tolles & Olson, where she worked up until Monday’s announcement. A spokesperson for the firm told Bloomberg Law that Vance will step down from her position there.

Biden camp slams Trump’s running mate as extremist

Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden’s campaign on Monday dismissed Donald Trump’s newly-unveiled running mate J.D. Vance as a “far-right MAGA extremist.”

“Vance is a 2020 election denier, supports a national abortion ban, and voted against IVF access,” Biden’s team said.

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The president said Vance “talks a big game about working people. But now, he and Trump want to raise taxes on middle-class families while pushing more tax cuts for the rich.”

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Jay Slater: Body found in search for missing British teen

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By Francesca Hangeior.

 

A body has been found in the search for 19-year-old Jay Slater. He went missing in Tenerife while on his first holiday abroad with friends.

Jay Slater had attended the NRG music festival in Playa de Las Americas. He later returned to a £40-a-night Airbnb with two older British men he had met during his time there.

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A spokesman for the Civil Guard said today: “After 29 constant days of searching, the body of the young man has been found in the Masca area.

“The discovery has been possible thanks to the tireless and discreet search carried out by the Civil Guard over these 29 days.

“Everything is pointing to the body being that of the young British man who disappeared on June 17, pending full identification.

“Initial inquiries are pointing to him having suffered an accident/fall in the area where he was found.”

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I’m supposed to be dead’ Trump tells NYP after assassination bid

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By Francesca Hangeior.

 

Former US president Donald Trump on Sunday told the New York Post he was “supposed to be dead” after surviving an assassination attempt which he described as a “very surreal experience.”

“I’m not supposed to be here, I’m supposed to be dead,” Trump told the Post in an interview aboard his plane en route to Milwaukee for the Republican National Convention where he is set to be confirmed as the party’s presidential candidate.

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It was a “very surreal experience” he recounted with a white bandage covering his right ear, the paper said.

The 78-year-old Trump was hit in the ear by a gunman at a campaign rally on Saturday.
He was left with a bloodied face while a bystander was killed and two other people were wounded.

Trump told the Post he would have been dead had he not tilted his head slightly to the right to read a chart on illegal immigrants while addressing the rally.

“By luck or by God, many people are saying it’s by God I’m still here,” he said.

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He praised the Secret Service agents for killing the shooter.
“They took him out with one shot right between the eyes,” he said.

“They did a fantastic job,” he added. “It’s surreal for all of us.”
The image of Trump raising a defiant fist as Secret Service agents bundled him away made front pages around the world and spread virally on social media.

“A lot of people say it’s the most iconic photo they’ve ever seen,” the former president told the Post, adding “They’re right and I didn’t die. Usually you have to die to have an iconic picture.”

Trump said after the attempt on his life he was rewriting the speech he had prepared for the Republican convention.

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He said he had “prepared an extremely tough speech” about Biden’s “horrible administration. But I threw it away” for one he hopes will “unite our country.”
“But I don’t know if that’s possible. People are very divided.”

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