Their rivalry has long been the subject of speculation by pundits, and on Tuesday two of Mexico’s brightest political stars were in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons.
After the fatal metro crash in Mexico City, public anger turned on Tuesday to the city’s mayor, Claudia Sheinbaum, and a former mayor who is now Mexico’s foreign minister, Marcelo Ebrard.
The two are widely seen as possible successors to President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.
“Absolutely nothing will be hidden,” López Obrador said at a press conference on Tuesday morning. “The Mexican people must know the whole truth.”
But even as the president spoke, the political fallout was evident during his press conference. Ms Sheinbaum and Mr Ebrard were harshly questioned by reporters: her for the possible failure to detect the flaws that led to the fatal accident, and him for overseeing the construction of a subway line plagued by accusations of mismanagement and corruption.
Publicly, at least, the two political heavyweights have presented a united front.
“We agree to get to the bottom of this and work together to find the truth and find out what caused this incident,” said Sheinbaum, who has avoided blaming government figures for the crash.
Mr Ebrard, asked if he feared being held ultimately responsible for the tragic accident, denied any wrongdoing and said he would cooperate with the investigation.
“If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear,” he said. “Like everyone else, I am subject to whatever the authorities determine, but even more so as a senior official, as a promoter of the construction of the line.”
Mr. Ebrard was mayor of Mexico City from 2006 to 2012, and the metro line, known as the Golden Line, was one of his administration’s flagship projects.
The crash came a month before the parliamentary elections which the ruling party, known as Morena, is expected to dominate. Mr. López Obrador has a high approval rating across the country, but he is less popular in Mexico City.
Ms Sheinbaum and Mr Ebrard are both members of Morena, and both are vying to succeed Mr López Obrador as president when his term ends in 2024.
Mr. López Obrador, who campaigned to improve Mexico’s infrastructure, has spearheaded ambitious transit projects since taking office in 2018, including nearly 1,000 miles of railroad crossing Mexico. He sought to create a legacy through several flagship projects and, shortly after taking office, halted construction of a half-built airport that a rival party had started building for Mexico City.
Even though construction was advanced and the government had spent billions of dollars on the airport, Mr López Obrador scrapped it to build another airport at a different location, redesigning the project on his behalf.
Yet the president’s flashy plans have come at the expense of more urgent needs, including water infrastructure problems in a country increasingly plagued by droughts and Mexico City’s metro, a key mode of transportation for the population. the sprawling capital, which has nearly 22 million inhabitants.