Who Is Mexico’s New President?
After two electoral losses, the leftist politician, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, often referred to as AMLO, has emerged as the virtual winner of Mexico's most recent presidential election. According to results reported by the National Electoral Institute (INE), AMLO won 53.2% of the votes, the PAN's candidate, Ricardo Anaya, came in second place with 22.5%, and the PRI's candidate, Jose Antonio Meade, came in third place with 16.4%, finally the independent candidate, Jaime Rodriguez, received 5.23 %. As usual, the president-elect of Mexico is expected to take office on December 1st, 2018.
A Historical Election:
Lopez Obrador’s victory is an important historical moment for Mexico, a country that was ruled by a single party, the Party of the Institutional Revolution (PRI), for over 70 years. The fall of the PRI finally came in the year 2000 with the election of the Party of National Action’s (PAN) candidate, Vicente Fox. This election was widely celebrated in Mexico, as it symbolized the end of an obscure era and the advent of a real democracy. However, the expected change did not occur under Fox’s government nor under his successor’s, Felipe Calderon. After 12 years of being ruled by the PAN, Mexico went back to the PRI thanks in big part to a strong, Enrique Pena Nieto media campaign. Six years later, after a presidency plagued by corruption scandals, the majority of the Mexican population has chosen a new alternative. For the first time in Mexico's recent history, the presidency will go to a leftist candidate.
Lopez Obrador’s main proposal is to combat corruption. In order to achieve this, he will implement a series of measures, such as prohibiting people with antecedents of illicit enrichment from serving as public officers, cutting salaries of public officers in half, and selling the presidential airplane and other austerity measures. Lopez Obrador also proposes to reform the article 108 of the Constitution so the president can be judged for engaging in corrupted practices; to revise all contracts and concessions given by companies to state governments and to cancel pensions given to ex presidents.
Increasing the country’s security is also a major concern. AMLO plans to explore the possibility of an amnesty to combat crime; to create a plan along with intellectuals, religious figures, and organizations to achieve peace in Mexico; to change the current strategy of fighting organized crime and to gradually withdraw troops from the streets; to create a “truth commission” in charge of investigating cases like that of Ayotzinapa (about the 43 teacher interns who were disappeared in 2014).
In order to improve the country’s economy, Lopez Obrador proposes to increase production and consumption of national products; to reach a minimum salary of $171.8 per day, and to prioritize public transportation, among other things.
AMLO also plans to improve the lives of the youth. In order to reach this goal, he plans to encourage companies to hire young people as interns. Furthermore, he would like to cancel the educational reform implemented by the current government, to eliminate entrance exams to colleges, and to provide free public education at all levels.
Finally, AMLO plans to eliminate the current system of healthcare and to implement a program of universal healthcare instead.
Who is Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador?
Born in Villa de Tepetitan, Tabasco, Mexico, in November 13, 1953, Lopez Obrador was the second of seven children born to traders, Andres Lopez and Manuela Obrador. AMLO had a humble but happy childhood; one of his favorite pastimes was playing baseball in center field position. At one point, he even thought of becoming a professional baseball player. Until this day, he continues to practice this sport whenever his busy schedule allows him.
In 1973, Lopez Obrador enrolled in the National Autonomous University of Mexico where he studied Political Science and Public Administration. He graduated from college in 1976, and soon after he joined the long-ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), supporting the campaign of poet, Carlos Pellicer Camara, as representative of the state of Tabasco in the senate. In 1977, he became the director of the Indigenous Institute of Tabasco where he worked in favor of indigenous people. He went back to Mexico City in 1984, working as Social Promoter of the National Institute of the Consumer.
Eventually, he became disenchanted with the PRI, and followed Cuauhtémoc Cardenas’ lead, (the son of ex president Lazaro Cardenas) in the establishment of a new, leftist political party, the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD). AMLO also supported Cardenas in his campaign for the presidency in the controversial elections of 1988, protesting when “the system crashed” and many questioned the legitimacy of the election of Carlos Salinas de Gortari as president.
AMLO continued working with the PRD and became its party's president in the state of Tabasco in 1989. In the 1990’s, he organized protests against environmental damage in Tabasco and electoral fraud by the PRI. From 1996 to 1999, Lopez Obrador served as the PRD’s national president. A year later, he was elected Head of the Federal District Government.
As Head of Mexico City’s Government, he promoted several innovative social programs such as, old age pensions, financial support for single mothers and the unemployed, scholarships for low-income students, and investments in urban redevelopment and transportation infrastructure. In 2004, he was named the second best mayor in the world by the British Foundation, City Mayor. However, he did face some barriers when confronted with sensational corruption scandals involving some of his close subordinates. In July 2005, he left his post to seek the PRD’s presidential nomination.
In May 2004, the federal attorney general began impeachment proceedings against Lopez Obrador for having ignored a court order by authorizing the construction of a hospital access road across private property. National as well as international observers argued that Vicente Fox’s intent (who was president at the time) was to disqualify AMLO as presidential candidate. As a result, one million protesters marched through Mexico City in April 2005. In response, Fox dropped impeachment charges.
During the 2006 presidential campaign, early polls placed AMLO far ahead of the other candidates including Fox's protégé, Felipe Calderon, but by the date of the election in July, those numbers diminished by a strong Calderon media campaign. Closing polls revealed Calderon as the winner by a mere 0.56%. Immediately, AMLO supporters demanded a recount, but only a partial recount was granted and it did not change results. In response, AMLO and his supporters held a ceremony in the Zocalo, Mexico City’s main square, proclaiming him as “the legitimate president.”
Lopez Obrador ran for president again in 2012. This time he finished in second place with Enrique Pena Nieto leading by about 5 points. AMLO and his supporters accused the PRI of violating several electoral laws by engaging in vote buying, and overspending in the presidential campaign, among other illegal activities. In fact, Lopez Obrador filed a legal complaint to the Electoral Tribunal of the Federal Judiciary (TEPJF). Nonetheless, Pena Nieto was upheld as the new president of Mexico.
Due to his disagreement with the PRD’s support for Pena Nieto’s economic reforms, AMLO left the party, and in 2014 he founded the National Regeneration Movement (MORENA). During Pena Nieto's presidency, Lopez Obrador was vocal in his opposition for Pena Nieto’s reforms especially his decision to open up Mexico’s energy industry to private investment.
Lopez Obrador celebrating his triumph.
Why did he win?
On Sunday, July 1st, 2018, Lopez Obrador emerged as the virtual winner of Mexico’s presidency. Some Mexican journalists and intellectuals such as Denise Dresser categorize his victory as a sign of discontent with Pena Nieto’s presidency. According to them, the electorate is upset by Pena Nieto’s corruption scandals and his inability to deal with the increasing crime, the extreme inequality, and the escalating violence that the country is confronting; their vote for AMLO can be seen as a hope for change. Other journalists such as Jenaro Villamil and Alvaro Delgado, also attribute AMLO's victory to other factors such as, the new generation of voters, and their desire to break away from failed, old ways, as well as the use of social media as an alternative source of information.
On the night of his victory, AMLO gave a speech on Mexico City’s main square, the Zocalo, in front of an enthusiastic multitude. He called the electoral process, “a historic night” and said that an important majority of Mexican voters had decided to initiate "the country’s fourth transformation (the first one being its independence from the Spain, the second one, the separation between church and state, and the third one, the revolution of 1910).” Most notably, he called for reconciliation and encouraged Mexicans “to prioritize the common good over personal interest.” He also emphasized that his priority will be to combat impunity and government corruption. With regards to Mexico's relationship with the United States, he said he would seek "a friendly and cooperative relationship based on mutual respect and the defense of Mexican immigrants" in the United States.
Watch Lopez Obrador giving a speech on the night of his victory by clicking on the video below:
What do you think of this election's results?
AMLO- Sito Oficial de Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. 2011, https://lopezobrador.org.mx/. Accessed 2 July 2018.
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The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. " Andrés Manuel López Obrador: MEXICAN POLITICIAN." The Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1 July, 2018, https://www.britannica.com/biography/Andres-Manuel-Lopez-Obrador. Accessed 1 July 2018.
"Los retos de Amlo, la guerra por los despojos en el PRI y la autodestrucción de Anaya: Comentan Alvaro Delgado, Jose Gil Olmos, Arturo Rodríguez García y Jenaro Villamil." Proceso. 2 July 2018, https://www.facebook.com/revistaproceso/videos/10156890934797923/. Accessed 2 July 2018.
"Mensaje #AndrésManuelPresidente desde la sala de prensa." YouTube, uploaded by Andrés Manuel López Obrador, 1 July 2018, www.youtube.com/watch?v=R77Sa2srGUg
Staff Writers. "¿Cuáles son las propuestas de AMLO para la Presidencia?" Nacion 321, 2 July 2018, http://www.nacion321.com/elecciones/cuales-son-las-propuestas-de-amlo-para-ganar-la-presidencia-este-2018. Accessed 1 July 2018.
Staff Writers. "INE: López Obrador gana con 30 millones de votos y el 53.17 por ciento," 5 July 2018, https://www.proceso.com.mx/541748/ine-lopez-obrador-gana-con-30-millones-de-votos-y-el-53-17-por-ciento. Accessed 5 July 2018.
Staff Writers. " 'Triunfo de AMLO, resultado de una rebelión:' Meyer; 'es el destripamiento del dinosaurio priista:' Dresser." Aristegui Noticias, 2 July 2018, https://aristeguinoticias.com/0207/mexico/triunfo-de-amlo-resultado-de-una-rebelion-meyer-es-el-destripamiento-del-dinosaurio-priista-dresser/. Accessed 2 July 2018.