MEXICO CITY, Mexico – Andrés Manuel López Obrador assumed the presidency on Saturday as Mexico’s first leftist leader in more than 70 years, marking a turnaround in one of the world’s most radical experiments in opening markets and privatization.
Published on: Dec 2, 2018 @ 20:29
In his speech, the new president promised “a peaceful and orderly but profound and radical transition because we will end the corruption and impunity that hinders the rebirth of Mexico.”
Mexico had long had a closed, relatively self-sufficient and autarkic economy dominated by the state and corporate sectors, that resisted domination from its neighbor to the north. Relations have been less than blossoming since the U.S annexed Texas from Mexico in 1845, ultimately souring relations and then provoking the Mexican-American war between 1846 and 1848, which Mexico lost. As a result, Mexico lost roughly 40% of its territory to the U.S, while under the terms of the peace treaty, Mexicans were to be allowed free passage between the two countries, provided those states had been formerly part of Mexico. However, since the U.S Civil War concluding in 1865, each U.S state no longer had sovereign control of its state borders. Over time, the U.S and Mexico arrived at its present complex ‘immigration’ situation.
Mexico underwent a period of revolutionary changes, counter-revolutionary activities, instability and upheavals, intrigues and betrayals from 1910 through 1932 finally settling under Cardenas – the first president to be able to act independently of revolutionary populist leader Calles since 1924, while within the ideology and framework of the final stage of the long revolutionary period that saw the rise of the PNR, Partido Nacional Revolucionario ( – later PRM – Partido de la Revolución Mexicana, and finally the PRI – Partido Revolucionario Institucional. This saw the rise of Cardenas and a subsequent period of stability, which began to erode under neoliberal pressure from the U.S in the mid 1980’s, when Reagan was president.
Since entering the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs in 1986, and then NAFTA in 1994, it would go on to sign more free trade agreements than any other country and privatized almost all sectors of the economy except oil and electricity. Even these industries have heavy portions privately owned and traded as stocks.
During that thirty-two year period since GATT, wealth distribution would shift upward, and also out of the country. Also witnessed was the rise of Narcotraffico gangs acting both with the CIA and embedded in the militarily armed Federal Police (‘Federales’ for short). Within
The 1994 signing of NAFTA meant certain doom for indigenous communities, mostly of Mayan heritage, in the southern states of Mexico, such as Chiapas. In immediate response, a quasi-Marxist, cultural-autonomist/nationalist leftoid guerrilla movement moved into an armed struggle phase of their organizing. In 1994, the Zapatistas seized the regional government offices in Chiapas, which forced Mexican authorities to respond.
The response was heavy-handed, and further galvanized support for all left-wing groups in Mexico.
Coming out of a broad network of left socialist and left nationalist movements, behind Obrador, we saw the rise of the PRD, founded in 1989 by the son of Cardenas, Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas, and Lopez Obrador. As such, people have seen Obrador as the continuation of the original PRI, before its right-ward move towards liberalism.
It is widely believed that Obrador actually won the July 2006 presidential election, only to have it stolen as a result of U.S interference and local corruption.
His New Mandate
Now, however, López Obrador talks about terms that have not been heard since the 1960s: he wants to build more state oil refineries and encourages Mexicans to “not buy overseas but produce in Mexico what we consume.”
“The Mexican crisis originated not only in the failure of neoliberal policies in the last 36 years,” he said in his inaugural address to Congress, “but also in the prevalence of the most filthy corruption.”
The most disorderly response from Congress came when Lopez Obrador promised “not to persecute officials of past administrations,” saying that “revenge is not my convention.”
Lawmakers responded by counting up to 43, referring to the landmark case of a group of students missing since September 2014. López Obrador promised to create a truth commission to investigate the case.
Prosecutors say they were kidnapped by corrupt police officers and handed over to drug dealers – who killed them and burned the bodies.
Combined with a deep sense of nationalism and its own place in history, the ownership of Lopez Obrador is the most popular transfer of power in decades.
Venezuelan President Maduro attended as a guest of honor at the inauguration, and was warmly embraced.
Jeremy Corbyn has been welcomed to Mexico as a guest of honour of the new populist Left-wing president, with Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador inviting him to his ranch to spend “Inauguration Eve” together, praising him as “my eternal friend”.
Mr. Corbyn flew from London to the southern Mexican state of Chiapas, where Mr Lopez Obrador, a veteran activist and Leftist agitator, has a sprawling tropical ranch.
A communiqué from the party said that López Obrador “faces huge challenges in his mission of transforming Mexico, but Jeremy hopes his election will offer Mexico’s poor and powerless a real voice and a break with the failures and injustices of the past.”
The Labour leader described it as “a privilege and an honour” to attend.
“At a time when the fake populists of the far Right are gaining ground internationally – including in Latin America – President Obrador has shown that a progressive agenda for change can win power and take on the status quo,” a Labour spokesman told The Telegraph.
López Obrador will hold another ceremony at the end of the day in the main square of Mexico City, where a leader of the indigenous communities of Mexico will give a traditional symbol of authority – a staff. A great celebration with traditional music will be performed.
The new leader of the country, 65, will work in the centennial National Palace and refused to live in the luxurious presidential residence. He will continue to live in his private home.
The National Palace will also be open to the public.
Gabriela Barrientos, 71, a retired secretary, and Jesus Basilio, a market seller, 55, were among the first to enlist at the gate to enter what Basilio called “the people’s house, an emblematic place where we can enter first time.”
Yaneth Fierro, 42, a housewife from Acapulco, expressed surprise at the luxury of the complex, but disappointment with completely empty rooms. “We wanted to see the furniture, but the ‘Gaviota’ (the nickname of former first lady Angelica Rivera) took them all.”
The transfer of power began at midnight when new cabinet secretaries were sworn in to key security posts – a tradition designed to ensure that there is always someone in charge of the Army, Navy and Home Office, the security of the country.
The new interior minister, Olga Sanchez Cordero, said at a ceremony after midnight that the new government “will listen to all, majority and minorities, because in a democracy all opinions can be expressed.”