Mexico City's Jewish mayor sworn in

Claudia Sheinbaum, the first woman elected mayor of Mexico City, sworn in for six-year term.

Ben Ariel ,

Claudia Sheinbaum
Claudia Sheinbaum

The first woman elected mayor of Mexico City was sworn in on Wednesday for a six-year term, AFP reports.

Claudia Sheinbaum, a 56-year-old Jewish scientist and environmentalist, rode to victory in the July elections on the same leftist anti-establishment wave that brought her ally and mentor to power, Mexico's new President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

Lopez Obrador, who himself served in the past as Mexico City mayor, raised Sheinbaum's hand in a sign of victory after she took the oath of office before the city legislature.

Sheinbaum echoed Lopez Obrador's fervent anti-corruption message in her inaugural address.

"We are beginning a new era of honesty and eradicating the privileges long enjoyed by top officials," she was quoted as having said.

"The first thing we will do is put an end to abuses. As of now, we are reestablishing democracy and political freedom," added Sheinbaum, who vowed to end "the privatization of public spaces" in the sprawling capital of more than eight million inhabitants, whose greater urban area is home to some 20 million people.

Sheinbaum, who hails from a family of Jewish scientists, studied physics at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, earning a doctorate in energy engineering and going on to work as a consultant for the United Nations.

She was active in the university's student movement, which rose up against an unpopular series of reforms at the institution in 1986.

She was one of many veterans of the movement to go into politics.

When Lopez Obrador was elected Mexico City mayor in 2000, he named Sheinbaum his environment minister.

She followed him when he split with Mexico's established left-wing party, the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), to launch Morena in 2014.

The following year, she won an election for district mayor of Mexico City's Tlalpan neighborhood, Lopez Obrador's own district and one of the 16 "delegations" that make up the city. That victory served as her launch pad for her mayoral campaign.

Her rapid rise has not been without controversy, noted AFP. When a private elementary school in her district collapsed in the earthquake that rocked Mexico on September 19, 2017 -- killing 19 children and seven adults inside -- it emerged that the local government had granted dodgy construction permits to the school's owner, who is today on the run from the law.

A group of victims' families has brought criminal charges over the case, and wants Sheinbaum to face investigation.

Sheinbaum vehemently denies responsibility for the school's collapse, and accuses her opponents of exploiting the tragedy for political gain.

Between 40,000 and 50,000 Jews currently reside in Mexico, about 75% of them in Mexico City. The current Jewish population in Mexico mostly consists of those who have descended from immigrants from the 19th and early 20th centuries.