Martí Batres on the Capital Stage
By ALEJANDRO ENVILA FISHER
It’s official: Martí Batres Guadarrama, the current head of government for Mexico City, will not take the place of Mexico City (CDMX) Governor Claudia Sheinbaum as head of the capital government. Well, sort of, because when Sheinbaum announced late Wednesday, June 14, that he would now have the position, she also added a caveat. While Batres will hold the title of Mexico City governor, Sheinbaum said, we will be “assisted in technical areas” by the likes of Luz Elena González and Omar García Harfuch, both Sheinbaum faithful supporters.
The official resignation of Sheinbaum has a significant effect on the political aspirations Batres Guadarrama, a member of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s (AMLO) leftist National Regeneration Movement (Morena) and, up until he takes his new office, the current head of government for Mexico City. Batres Guadarrama had been eying the party’s candidacy to take over the CDMX headquarters for himself.
Batres has always worked — first within the left-leaning Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) and later in Morena — alongside López Obrador, with his sights clearly set on the main political position in the country’s capital. In 1997, against all odds then, he won the coordination of the PRD parliamentary group, and with it the presidency of the first legislative assembly dominated by the left in what was at the time the Federal District. A year later, he joined AMLO, who was then an ascendant leader in the PRD, to support his goal to lead Mexico City in 2000, against other PRD and leftist leaders such as Rosario Robles and Carlos Imaz.
As a federal deputy for the capital, Batres coordinated the PRD parliamentary group when AMLO was mayor (a post now elevated to governor) of Mexico City, to later join the capital’s administration under the orders of Alejandro Encinas. In the years of now-Foreign Relations Secretary and presidential hopeful Marcelo Ebrard’s stint as mayor, with whom he never did have chemistry, Batres was Secretary of Economic Development supported by López Obrador, until the then head of Government decided to get him out of the way to prevent him from becoming an obstacle in the construction of his own succession to favor, first of Mario Delgado and finally of Miguel Ángel Mancera.
While Mancera was mayor and associated with now-disgraced former Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, Batres plotted to betray Ebrard, who had to go into exile in France. Batres continued to work alongside López Obrador through his election as president in 2018. Batres participated in those elections as a candidate for senator.
In the Senate, when it seemed that his loyalty would finally begin to be recognized, Batres was once again ignored by by the Morena party, which pushed him aside to elevate Ricardo Monreal as majority leader in Mexico’s upper house. Isolated by AMLO, Batres had to endure alone until the movement of an old friend of his, Rosa Icela Rodríguez, opened the space for him as the head of government on Sheinbaum’s team.
Now, with the departure of Sheinbaum to formalize her presidential candidacy, political chess resulted in Batres being sacrificed, once again, for the benefit of Ricardo Monreal. The still-senator has already decided to stop playing the conciliator because he seems to have tied for a sufficiently attractive consolation prize so as not to break with the president.
If that’s the way things are. Batres now finds himself in a natural position to be eliminated from the competition with a new consolation prize, the CDMX governorship. The victim of a political castling that made him a substitute for Sheinbaum, to hold the position for 18 months, instead of the six years that correspond to a full constitutional term.
Given the departure of Sheinbaum, Batres has to take over the CDMX government and got the votes of Morena to go from office manager to substitute governor to secure the position, but simultaneously, he was disqualified from fighting for a post at the polls in 2024 due to the principle still-in-force law of non-reelection.