By Lluis Lozano
Mexico City, Jun 23 (EFE).- Luisa Maria Alcalde made her first public appearance Friday since President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador named the attorney and former lawmaker to the No. 2 post in the Mexican government.
Alcalde, 35, becomes the youngest person ever to serve as interior secretary, who is second only to the head of state in a political system that dispenses with the office of vice president.
The daughter of a union official and a woman who worked in the Mexico City municipal government when Lopez Obrador was mayor, Luisa Maria joined the future president’s leftist Morena party in 2011, the year of its founding, and was elected to Congress the following year.
When Lopez Obrador, known as AMLO, was elected president – on his third attempt – in 2018, he appointed Alcalde as labor secretary.
In that job, she has won plaudits by raising the minimum wage and increasing workers’ entitlement to paid vacation days.
But despite her experience in the legislative and executive branches, as well as degrees from Mexico’s foremost public university and the University of California, Berkeley, Alcalde’s fitness to be interior secretary has been questioned on the basis of her gender and relative youth.
People have posted on social media a photograph of an OnlyFans model who resembles Alcalde with the name of the new interior secretary attached.
Much has also been made of Alcalde’s appearance 12 years ago in a Morena promotional video.
“The good news is that there are fewer and fewer (sexist attacks), we have advanced very much in the struggle for equality,” Alcalde said Friday during AMLO’s morning news conference, though adding that the ascension of a woman to a high-level post always evokes some negative reactions.
If the president is incapacitated, the interior secretary becomes acting head of state, as occurred in April when AMLO suffered a second Covid-19 infection and then-Secretary Adan Augusto Lopez Hernandez – who stepped down earlier this month to seek Morena’s 2024 presidential nomination – took charge for several days.
While critics have questioned whether Alcalde will be able to command the respect of a Cabinet where the median age is 55, AMLO said that her appointment is part of a strategy.
“It is very important to think of the generational change, to give young people opportunities,” he said. “Besides, Luisa Maria is an attorney, she was a legislator, (she did) very good work in the Labor Secretariat.”
Alcalde is the second woman to serve as interior secretary in the AMLO administration. Olga Sanchez Cordero, a septuagenarian former Supreme Court judge, held the office for the first half of the six-year presidential term.
“I think that there are more women than men in the Cabinet, but they are women with convictions, with principles, with ideals, and that helps a lot,” AMLO said regarding the gender balance of his government.
Though AMLO will leave office in less than 18 months, as Mexican presidents are limited to a single term, Alcalde could conceivably remain part of the government beyond the end of his administration if Morena’s candidate wins the June 2024 election. EFE